Almost all the clients we work for mainly focus on publishing the news every day, which isn’t particularly happy-making. We all know the expression that ‘bad news sells’ but - while still holding the happy stone - I wondered if that is actually true.
Over the past year, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about user needs and it was through this project that we saw that ‘inspire me’ stories (those that often have a positive touch to them) have a definite place in the publishing calendar, and do well with their audiences. It’s kind of obvious when you think about it: I know I tend to remember (or share) happy news more often than the negative, and I’m guessing you probably do too. Maybe it’s the same feeling of unexpected joy and happiness you want to share - like with these happy stones. No one’s keeping hold of mouldy sticks, after all, even if your dog lovingly brings them to you.
You’ll likely be familiar with the notifications we calculate on single stories, helping newsrooms to get more from their editorial efforts. One of these notifications is related to social media sentiments - you know, the little reaction buttons where you can smile or laugh or cry about a story. These notifications can alert newsrooms when it’s timely and good to add more great stuff. It’s actually one of my favourite notifications because it helps to show newsrooms that good news actually sells as well.
And to prove my case here, as soon as I got back from my walk with Vos, I got in touch with our Labs team and asked them to pick a newsbrand and analyse the last 25 stories they published that were high on ‘positive sentiment’. I wanted to find out how they compared to the stories that had high negative sentiment.
I hoped that we’d find some proof that publishing a ‘happy stone’ story every day makes readers feel good and share more, and confirm my suspicions that ultimately it’s a great strategy - for every newsbrand, everywhere.
I’m pretty sure that doing this will make this world a better place … just a little bit at least.
I even decided that we’ll invent a new notification that we will call the ‘Happy Stone Story!’. With this we’ll notify our clients on positive news coverage. It will say: You’ve created a happy stone story, it’s cheering your audience up. Publish it on all your channels and enjoy the ripple of positivity this news brings!
So, the Labs team picked the stories from four brands (*) during November 2021 and January 2022 and these are the super interesting results.
- These 4 brands are:
NOS from the Netherlands
VRTNWS from Belgium
La Silla Rota from Mexico
Regional Heute from Germany
Let me start with the best news: it does actually pay to publish positive news. From the little survey we did we concluded that - on average - the social engagement and the overall reach show positive results for positive news in comparison with negative news.
Before we dive into the numbers and results, here’s how we did it.
We defined positive news as articles that got a HAHA or LOVE on Facebook and we considered negative news to be when the Facebook reactions were more SAD and ANGRY.
This isn’t of course a watertight analysis, but for a first quick ‘feeling’ to understand how various audiences in different countries react to positive and negative news, it’s something reasonably solid to look at.