Dispatches from the living amongst journalism's walking dead

Holy engagement, Batman! How HuffPost blew up the State of the Union on Facebook

How did The Huffington Post get 32,694 Likes, 2,525 comments and 4,268 shares on Facebook for Obama’s State of the Union address? I mean, every news outlet in the U.S. and beyond has posted something about it, so how did one outlet get so much engagement?

How about a sort of Facebook take on live-tweeting? It was an experiment, to be sure, but it seemed to work out well.

Disclosure: Although I work on HuffPost’s social team, I had nothing to do with this. I’m just passing it on as an example.

Here’s a look at the posts and how much engagement each post received (as of today at about noon).


What does this show (besides a lot of reaction)? It shows experimentation can be worth it. I’m not suggesting this would work for every big live event or for every brand, but it was well worth the adventure.

On what other occasions do you think this could work? What other experiments have you seen to increase engagement on Facebook?


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  1. I’m a mommy blog and I actually wrote a synopsis of the state of the union and I got more engagement that way from other moms who didn’t have time to listen to the state of the union

  2. ChicagoV

    Great MEDIA, however O plan still short on DELIVERY…

  3. Steve Warren

    Mandy, we’ve tried livestreaming the mayor’s state of the city and the gov’s state of the state on our Facebook page. Got viewers but little engagement. I don’t know why we didn’t think of posting passages for people to react to. Glad you guys did. Just looking at it I know it would have worked. Thanks.

  4. My gut feeling about a lot of high engagement is that consumers of media “hide” their wants and their desires. The system interface, and the “curation” style of picking out things for people to consume so that they can feel nourished by it, helps consumers feed their hidden wants and needs. I think in research of media consumption, we should be focused on what readers aer not telling us and what they read into the media they consume. I think they are looking for life fulfillment in the presence of media content. 

  5. Nice. I think it has a lot to do with the changes Facebook made — the ticker and seeing latest stories first make Facebook a better platform for “live-tweeting” and they can get immediate engagement. Very smart move. 

  6. DaynawithaY

    This would have been really easy to do because the White House sent out the text of the SOTU address the day of the event. The person in charge of the “live-blogging” page could have planned what quotations to use and then just cut and paste when POTUS had uttered them.

    How would this have gone if someone was “reporting live” on FB and had to take down the quotations as they were spoken?

    • I’m sure it would be a bit different without the prepared text – likely just not as long of posts. I think it’s very doable, though. I live-tweet the debates, SOTU and primary nights and can usually get good quotes out fast. Probably similar for live events on Facebook.

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