Facebook Geofocusing Experiment

Lots of Buzz Around NPR's Local Partnerships

Mar 23, 2012

A piece by Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab highlights how NPR Digital Services and NPR.org are experimenting through partnerships with member stations. The story references two recent projects -- our experiment with KPLU to geotarget content on NPR's Facebook page and a new test that displays local headlines of 13 member stations on the NPR.org home page.

Following the success of an experiment in which we geotargeted local KPLU content on the NPR Facebook page, we have submitted a Knight Foundation News Challenge proposal for a tool that will enable us to expand the test.

NPR’s Facebook page and its 2.3 million-like audience is made up of users from thousands of cities across the world. We wondered: what if we focused on just one city?

The question arose after identifying a somewhat obscure Facebook feature that allows anyone with a Facebook page to customize posts by location. This means, for example, that you can post a story about Boston and modify it so that only users in Boston will see it in their Facebook feed.

Last October NPR Digital Services and Digital Media used this tool to launch an experiment with member station KPLU, in which we shared selected KPLU.org content on NPR's Facebook page, but only for the eyes of the Seattle region (KPLU's market). Four months into this experiment, we’ve made some unexpected discoveries around Facebook communities and the power of localization on a national platform.