At Digital Third Coast, we practice the friendly art of football trash talking within our office. Sure, we all live in Chicago, but with a couple of Wisconsin and Michigan natives, we have enough rivalries to keep football season interesting.So of course, we all understand the depth of the Packers-Bears rivalry; in fact, we live that rivalry every day during football season, crossing paths with enemy fans in bars and making sure to sit on the opposite side of the El from the dude in the rival's jersey. There seemed to be no safe territory- shouldn't Chicago be a city safe from Green Bay fans? If not, where was the dividing territory line between Packers fans and Bears fans? To find out, we created our own interactive. Using a Google survey, we asked users to identify their state (with a choice of Illinois, Wisconsin, or Indiana) and county, and then choose their favorite team among our local teams -  Da Bears, the Packers, the Lions, the Vikings, the Rams, the Colts, and "other." The results? Over 7,000 unique votes and a clearer picture of the dividing lines between Bears and Packers territory. More importantly, the interactive was a huge hit as a content marketing piece- earning shares from USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, and RedEye, among others- and there are three main reasons behind this success.

(Click to see how our map changed each day)  

Interactives Are Different

At this point in the game, infographics aren't the beautiful unique unicorns they once were. Don't get us wrong, they're still valuable pieces of content that have a specific purpose- but interactives are highly engaging and thus, more popular. Plus, because interactives stand out, they're easy to pitch to publishers. Infographics are a little more commonplace, whereas interactives are different enough to catch a reader's eye (and will then appeal to publishers). In our interactive, we used polling for instant gratification and engagement. Respondents could vote and then immediately see results populate the real-time map. Polls such as ours actually allow us to share two pieces of content within one- the polls itself, and the interactive map the poll results populated. For a simple way to carry on a conversation with your audience, polling is the way to go.

The News Value of Conflict

Montagues versus Capulets. Republicans versus Democrats. The Bears versus the Packers. Conflict always has a place in the news; in fact, the news is often covered in terms of black-and-white, two-sided conflict. Us versus them, right? By using conflict as the driving news value of our NFC interactive, we gave people and publishers a built-in reason for sharing and publishing the interactive. For example, when people shared the interactive on social media sites, their posts often identified themselves as members of one particular tribe (not surprising, considering how passionate we know Packers fans to be). Publishers, similarly, were attracted to the infographic because they knew it would appeal to their audience, whether they wrote for a Chicago daily news magazine or a Green Bay fan site. Conflict has news value because it gives the news an emotional hook, engaging readers by allowing them to judge right versus wrong. By focusing our content on the most-played rivalry in the NFL, we had an obvious angle that publishers and readers would be interested in- even passionate about.

Test Outreach

Truth be told, our test outreach had a hard time at first. After all, our interactive idea (while awesome) was a little hard to explain with mere words. Once we had a mockup of the interactive, our outreach gained a lot more traction. One of our biggest links came from a fan website called Packers News; this and several of our other links from Wisconsin sites came from our test outreach. Once the Wisconsin publications picked the interactive up early on, the Pack came out in full force. Even once Chicago sites shared the link (in fact, RedEye Chicago was the first to share it), the Packers News site and others like it held on to the momentum of sharing it around the internet and encouraging fans to vote.   So there you have it- a unique content form, conflict, and test outreach all added up to an incredibly successful interactive. We talked more about what qualities of content appeal to top publishers in our recent webinar with BuzzSumo's Steve Rayson. For a free download of the webinar in its entirety, click the button below. Bear down.