Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
With new columns and newsletters, ProPublica is trying to attract new readers and have more fun
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 17, 2013, 11:37 a.m.
LINK: sonya2song.blogspot.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   July 17, 2013

Sonya Song, the current Knight-Mozilla Fellow at The Boston Globe, has done a regression analysis of the paper’s Facebook presence. (“Through my analysis, I hoped to answer two questions. What types of stories are shared by the Boston Globe staff on the social media platform? In turn, how do different types of shared stories differently affect Facebook users’ reading and sharing?”)

So what characteristics of Facebook postings correlates with attention? Song identifies five:

Image size (none, thumbnail, single-column, and double-column)
Without or without a “breaking” label in the caption
Time of sharing (hour and weekday)
News topic defined by editors (business, metro, sports, etc.)
Related to the Boston Marathon bombing or not

A “breaking” label meant 57 percent more engagement on average; larger images also meant more engagement, but small thumbnails didn’t help much; and engagement around stories peaked around 8 a.m. and late at night:

I talked with Joel Abrams at the Boston Globe about why peaks appeared in the early morning and late night. We’ve conjured up two theories for the phenomenon. First, people check Facebook more frequently before and after work, for instance, on commute or in bed. Second, quite uncooperatively, newsrooms share fewer stories during those “idling” hours because social media editors are also not at work. As such, those hours may see a shortage of new posts and therefore there is less competition for attention seekers. In the future, we could experiment with sharing stories in the early morning and late night to see if we could possibly boost traffic.

What’s a posting that sparked a lot of conversation?

Romeo and Juliet, the swans who reside at the Boston Public Garden during the summer (and at Franklin Park Zoo during the winter), returned there today in a sign that the spring season is truly here. See photos: http://b.globe.com/ZOid4O

What’s one that didn’t?

#Recipe for paella-stuffed peppers http://goo.gl/PwlBT

My favorite finding is Song’s identification of a particular kind of story that leads to lots of conversation: the “there’s a problem but there have been (or would be) a solution” story. Examples:

Tie but broken by miracle win in sports
Failed to finish marathon but were invited back to do it
Marathon bombing victims but were given medical care
Natural disaster but children were saved
Chance of cancer but intervention minimized it

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
With new columns and newsletters, ProPublica is trying to attract new readers and have more fun
“There’s a huge benefit to coming up with features that are more fun and more interesting. It appeals to a different audience and can create closer connections with readers — they can see a different side of us.”
In Latin America, a digital community of media startups hopes to make entrepreneurship easier
“Our mission is to support people who are creating new projects. One of the best ways to do that is to empower as many people as possible.”
A new growth area for foreign reporting: podcasts? With reporters in-country, GroundTruth hopes so
“There’s pretty much nothing, as far as I can tell, in terms of real, international, on-the-ground reporting in the world of podcasting.”
What to read next
0
tweets
How Atlas Obscura helps its web audience discover the real world
Events like its upcoming Obscura Day are meant to help the site’s digital readers discover places they previously only read about.
0Inspired by “independent YouTubers,” wary of cable, Vox.com takes its explainer mission to video
“I made one rule starting out: No desks.”
0You can now get personalized Breaking News alerts on Slack
The NBC-owned company’s new Slack bot lets you follow more than 90,000 topics.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The Huffington Post
Tribune Publishing
DocumentCloud
The Bay Citizen
Foursquare
Placeblogger
I-News
Drudge Report
GateHouse Media
CNN
Las Vegas Sun
Zonie Report