Every so often a story surprises with how it takes off, goes viral or creates a spike in web traffic. Sometimes there is a good reason – it’s a great tale, a good human interest story or carries an amazing image. But a perfect storm is something else altogether.
by Mark Allen
Sometimes in comms we just hit what I call a perfect storm.
But like the Clooney film of the same name, it takes a variety of conditions to be present and unlike freaks of weather, some of these can be created.
Halton Borough Council's Adult Services Team runs a café and brewery (launched by local lad John Bishop) and ice cream making business at Norton Priory, as well as chickens and goats providing eggs and cheese.
It runs work placement schemes which have led to more than 200 people working in the 'real world' in the last five years. The workers are about to branch out into making goat’s cheese – I’m not ‘kid’ding!
Officers recently opened a new café in the centre of Widnes, called The Route, in an empty shop, in the style on an American diner.
I put the story live on our website, and shared links across social media, just after the ISIS Paris attacks, not sure of the likely interest. It seemed like people were after something positive in their community to celebrate.
For a small council 3.8k Facebook likes that on a post that week is more than a hundred times the number of likes, comments and shares on Facebook a post will usually get while we have never had a tweet get more than 7.4k clicks – That is usually the total reach of a usual tweet!
This is the social media success story for the year, a ‘perfect storm’ of factors which will translate into people actually visiting the café, coupled with the web and social media coverage, this is all good. A good example to share if you need an example of how social media can help.
I think the combination of a positive news story just after Paris, residents with special needs, and coffee, is win, win, win… And it is a good project, so no ‘spin’ needed to pretend it is anything better than it is.
The picture was simple, the Council’s Executive Board Member who covered the area, being served a cuppa! It took less than a minute to set up and take. And the staff enjoyed being centre of attention (and I got a nice cup of coffee)
The community café story attracted 2,162 web sessions of longer than 30 minutes - the next highest in November was 479 for a road closure.
It was interaction that is the success, rather than the 80,000 reach achieved on social media. We had stories shared by celebrities with huge reaches, but a lot of this is vanity as most people won’t live in the area or perhaps won’t even know where Widnes and Runcorn is.
The people interacting said they would meet there, take their children there, pop in for a cuppa and tell their friends (which was the idea of the news story) – This was combined with useful local newspaper and radio coverage, which always helps.
Since the article the number of people visiting the café has risen. Many use it as their eatery of choice.
Word got to an Asian motorcycle club which is even making a detour to visit the café, when they are in the area.
It is a real example of the digital world, traditional media and the real world combining to tell the community about a jewel in the centre of town.
For more info here is the link to the release.
Mark Allen is Press and PR Officer at Halton Borough Council
image via Flickr creative commons https://flic.kr/p/dp5SZE