In Spring 2016, I published an article on Family Fun Canada, titled Newfoundland Place Names That Will Make You Blush. Whereas many of the articles on this site are shared via social media anywhere from 30 to 300 times, this one broke the internet, with 3.3 thousand Facebook shares (plus more on Twitter), and so many fun comments from people all over Canada.
So, what made this post so popular?
Well, first of all, let’s talk about the comments. They weren’t from families wishing to visit Newfoundland (my target audience), but from Newfoundlanders themselves, many who now live outside of Newfoundland. They were eager to pitch in and talk about names I hadn’t mentioned, or how they couldn’t wait to get back home for a visit. Perhaps the stereotype is true.. Newfoundlanders just LOVE to talk!
The second thing about the Newfoundland article is that it had a mildly salacious element. The place names I mentioned weren’t actually funny, but kind of dirty: Virgin Cove, Tickle Cove, Conception Bay, Muddy Hole… and of course, Dildo. We all know that sex sells – even on a family travel site!
And the format? The text was brief (Buzzfeed-style) and the photos, provided by Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism were stunning. For me, the feature photo, showing a woman cradling a cup of tea outside a colourful house, was key. Yes, the colours said “Newfoundland”, but the woman’s Mona Lisa smile screamed “cheeky”, which is exactly what I wanted to convey.
Google Analytics can’t tell you that Goldie Parsons, who comments from Toronto, is originally from Glovertown, Newfoundland, or that Lynn Rowsell used to know a fishing spot called Old Ma’ams Crack.
And somehow it worked. This post not only received thousands of clicks, but several heartfelt comments. Comments, especially heartfelt ones, are internet gold…and the hallmark of true audience engagement.
It’s easy to analyze traffic using analytics and numbers, but Google Analytics can’t tell you that Goldie Parsons, who comments from Toronto, is originally from Glovertown, Newfoundland, or that Lynn Rowsell used to know a fishing spot called Old Ma’ams Crack. This is why, when they rank pages, Google really values comments…and if you’re writing on the internet, so should you.
For me, the most important thing is not the number of shares, but the quality of the comments. Did I get people talking? Did I make someone feel a little homesick? Did I inspire a bit of wanderlust? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then as a travel writer, I have done my job!