NPR Eyes Expansion Of Local Facebook Content Trial

By David Cohen Comment

NPR plans to build on its experiment in using the ability to customize Facebook posts by location with its Seattle affiliate, KPLU. The public broadcaster detailed its plans in its entry to media innovation contest the Knight News Challenge.

The first of three parts of the Knight News Challenge focused on “projects that use the best of existing software and platforms — those already integrated into people’s lives — to find new ways to convey news and information,” with winners, to be announced in June, receiving funding for their projects from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

NPR said in its entry that it is seeking $340,000 from the Knight Foundation of its total project cost of $450,000 to expand its initial Seattle experiment across the country, and expects to complete the project in seven months. The project is called GeoGraph.

Below are highlights from NPR’s application to the Knight News Challenge:

Our GeoGraph approach addresses unique editorial and localization needs of news organizations where publishing directly through Facebook or other tools fail. GeoGraph permits scale and efficiency across broad localization efforts.

We will enable publishing through specific pages on Facebook, starting with NPR’s 2.3 million likers, in partnership with our 268 member stations. We will build our GeoGraph tool using Facebook’s Graph API. We worked with Facebook during a proof of concept; they committed to assisting us with it moving forward.

Geotargeting tests we conducted with member station KPLU proved successful on a variety of fronts. Stories geotargeted through NPR’s Facebook presence sparked unique community-oriented conversations and resulted in share, comment, and like rates on Facebook six times higher than globally shared links.

But the manual effort of editorial review, geotargeting, and measuring make moving beyond basic tests prohibitive. GeoGraph will allow NPR and other media organizations to expand to their wider ecosystem and sustain such an effort long-term. This tool will enable the success of our initial experiment to be seen on a much larger scale.

Readers: Do you think more national and international media organizations should focus on local, geo-targeted content on Facebook and other social networks?