vitruvian social man
the perfect social post vitruvian man
Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

The perfect social media post. Does it exist?

For that matter, what is perfection?

Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man has come to symbolize — among other things — perfection, or at least nature’s perceived perfection, intriguing patterns and impeccable symmetry.

“In this one sketch, Leonardo was able to combine the mathematics, religion, philosophy, architecture and artistic skill of his age,” said James Earle in his Ted-Ed talk.

But is it perfect? As it turns out, no. Let me be clear. Perfection is unattainable. There’s no such things as the “perfect post” or “perfect tweet.” That’s right.

As the great Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is unattainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

So, each week, Share Rocket will chase down the “perfect social media post” for you. We’re monitoring the content and scoring the social performance of all of the local news stations in the top markets in the United States. We’ll find examples of social excellence and share insights to help you improve your own “chase.” But first, what makes for great social content?

What is social excellence?

Ultimately, your audience will tell you what success looks like. They vote every day, all day. There’s no better feedback or metric than engagement — likes, shares, comments, retweets, replies, favorites.

Perhaps we can look to da Vinci for guidance. Some suggest that da Vinci’s Man “is the very symbol of what Leonardo da Vinci stood for – an interest in all things. It brings together his love of both science and art, being in part both and not wholly either.”

So too is great social content — part science, part art. The real magic is in finding the perfect symmetry. Much of da Vinci’s inspiration was guided by the writings of Roman architect Vitruvius. In De Architectura, Vitruvius describes three central themes that guide architecture: firmitas (strength), utilitas (functionality), and venustas (beauty). We’ll apply these themes to help you architect great social content.

Firmitas (strength)

Tell compelling stories.
Play to your own strengths. If you are a journalist, tell compelling stories that appeal to people’s emotions and interests. It’s important to not focus solely on breaking news. Posts that leverage humor or inspiration generate high engagement.

Venustas (beauty)

Be visual.
Compelling photography to help tell your story and catch your audience’s attention. Of the content we track, Facebook posts that include a photograph represent only 25% of posts, but generate more than 70% of all the engagement we collect.

Utilitas (functionality)

Make it actionable, ask for likes or shares.
Humans are social creatures. Sharing is in our DNA. Post content that your audience can use to increase their social status among their friends. We all want to be the first of our friends to share breaking news, a funny joke, or an inspirational story. But don’t forget to ask for engagement, subtly by asking a topical question, or blatantly by reminding your audience to “like or share this post.” Posts that use these techniques generate 40% more engagement.

Share Rocket’s engagement checklist

We use this checklist to test social content for excellence and likelihood of generating engagement:
Tells an urgent, compelling, inspirational or funny story?
Appeal to emotion?
Use a photo?
Ask for engagement?

Each week, we’ll hand out an award for the “perfect social media post.” We’ll call it the “Leo.” :) This week’s example of social excellence checks all the boxes and then some.

This week’s Leo for “perfect social media post” goes to:

WABC, New York
It’s difficult to compare stations across markets and geographies. To say unequivocally which station is No. 1 in social in the nation isn’t necessarily fair. That’s why our scoring algorithm determines a winner relative to the competition in in each market. But, If I had to proclaim a winner, it would be WABC in New York. They are the best performing station, in the nation’s largest market.

This week’s post about the New England Patriots tribute to Cincinatti Bengals player Devon Still’s four-year-old daughter Leah, who is battling cancer, is a perfect example of why.

The Facebook post, right, has generated more than 137,000 likes, 2,000 comments and 13,000 shares since it was posted Oct. 6. The storyline is powerful, and difficult to flub in social. But WABC’s execution was near-flawless.

Let’s go to the Share Rocket checklist:

Tells an urgent, compelling, inspirational or funny story?
A professional football team’s cheerleaders wear an opposing team’s uniform in honor of an opponent’s four-year-old daughter who is fighting cancer. Check.

Appeal to emotion?
Um, yeah. Pass the tissues. WABC even warns readers with a KICKER, “YOU’LL NEED THE TISSUES FOR THIS ONE.” Check.

Use a photo?
Rather than use a photo of the cheerleaders, as many outlets chose to do, WABC used a tear-streaked photo of Still reacting to the gesture. Check.

Ask for engagement?
WABC includes a link to the story on their site, but also encourages fans to “‘LIKE’ if you’re touched by this sweet gesture.” Worked on us. Check.

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