Shane Michael Haley was born October 9, 2014 at 2:25 a.m.

He died 3 hours and 50 minutes later.

His life was short, but “won hearts across the internet,” as WPVI in Philadelphia so eloquently described.

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Packing a lifetime’s worth of bucket list items into nine months might sound intimidating to most, but that didn’t stop Jenna and Dan Haley. Their unborn son Shane has been diagnosed with a complex neural defect that kills most infants soon after birth. … The Haleys came up with a list of places and activities they love and want to share with their son and vowed to do as many as possible during Jenna’s pregnancy.

It’s a story that touched and inspired people from coast to coast.

Shane’s parents Dan and Jenna learned early that Shane had a rare birth defect known as Anencephaly, which causes babies to be born without parts of the brain and skull. Many newborns with the condition die soon after birth. In an effort to “make the most of the time that we had with him,” the Haleys created a bucket list of places and activities they wanted to share with their son and spent the remainder of Jenna’s pregnancy checking off as many as they could.

It was the top post in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago on Oct. 9. In New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia the story helped ABC’s O&O stations sweep the Social Ratings in each market last week.

In Philadelphia, the story generated more than 180,000 engagements across WPVI’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. In Chicago, WLS saw more than 190,000 engagements, and in New York, WABC‘s coverage generated more than 80,000 engagements.

“The story itself hit home emotionally, especially on Facebook where most of our audience is women.” said Maria Ioannides, WPVI’s social media manager. “Normally, we try not to post things multiple times in a row to avoid overwhelming people. But with this story, we didn’t hold back and it worked really well, even for referrals. This turned out to be our biggest story ever.”

But no one can fuel engagement like KABC in Los Angeles. With a combined Facebook and Twitter audience of more than 2 million fans/followers, KABC has amassed one of the largest local news audience in the country. Three posts generated more than 700,000 engagements on Facebook. And one post, updating followers that Shane had died, reached more than 15 million people and generated more than 459,000 likes, 20,000 comments and 12,000 shares.

The important lesson for social managers is to extend the social story arc and be fastidious about reigniting the post’s virality with updates. Some of the stations we track simply posted the story once, and might have updated the post once. All four ABC stations posted several variations and updates over a couple of days. Don’t be afraid to repost a story that has traction with your audience.

Just give them more of what they want. In this case, more about a set of incredible, resilient young parents, and their son who was lucky enough to have them, if only for a little while.

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