They’re calling it an experiment–an NPR partnership with Facebook that will allow users to listen to NPR audio clips from their Facebook feed. The investigative question that experiment will answer, as described in the headline of an NPR post announcing the partnership, is, “Can Audio Go Viral?”
The idea of a sound clip spreading as feverishly and quickly as (insert viral video stereotype here) has been viewed by many as an industry white whale. For Patrick Cooper and Mathilde Piard, this chance to prove it can be otherwise, banking off previous NPR experiments in audio virality, is important to audio’s future.
“Leaders in public radio and the audio industry at large see social success as critical for the future of spoken-word audio,” they write.
This experiment will involve NPR adding audio clips to its Facebook feed on a daily basis throughout January, or for 30 days from the point in January it first begins to post clips.
The successes and failures of each of those posts will be tracked by NPR’s Editorial Training Team, a small NPR team whose mission is to provide training, professional development and critical analysis for NPR and NPR member-station staff. At the end of 30 days, the team will crunch the numbers, figure out the trends and meaning that can be gleaned from the effort and share what it has learned.
Cleverly, the first sneak peek posted on NPR’s Facebook feed, posted yesterday, is from its new Politics Podcast, covering the politics of Star Wars just as the newest film in the franchise debuted.
The partnership coincides with an effort by Facebook, called Music Stories, to offer music clips in posts, from partners like Spotify, Apple Music and Rhapsody.