April Fools on Love Shrewsbury

Each year our April Fools story is one of the most read posts on the Love Shrewsbury site, this year was no different with traffic spiking by 2,700%. It was our third April Fools story so how did it stack up to the previous years?

Year Post Traffic Facebook Likes Tweets
2015 Loch Ness Monster of Shrewsbury Spotted in River Severn

8,900 1800 48
2014 Brad Pitt to Star in Charles Darwin Film set in Shrewsbury

7,500 1900 25
2013 Shrewsbury to get Airport 1,300 170 34

The biggest trend is the link between the story going viral on Facebook and increased traffic, this was helped largely in 2014 and 2015 by our investment in growing the reach of our Facebook page. This gave us a good size platform to initially share the post to enough people to help it go viral. We’ve always struggled to get posts to go viral on Twitter even with a large following, I’m not sure if this is due to the nature of the content or that our core audience is more active on Facebook.

The way we approached April Fools had changed since last year, the bar had been raised considerably since the success in 2014 and we knew if we were going to increase/match traffic again we would have to write an appealing and entertaining post. We discussed a lot of ideas in the office before settling on the chosen topic, many were dismissed for being not funny enough or simply too believable.

Love Shrewsbury Online Submission

Over the past year we’ve been repositioning our Love Shrewsbury website to become a content platform rather than just a classic blog. We’ve had a lot of success in this area forming partnerships with other local blogs and news site.

Our platform is powering mobile phone apps such as InfoBeetle providing offers & events data to their iPhone/Android applications and the Original Shrewsbury website.

This month we’ve taken the next step forward by opening up our article submission process to anyone. The result is that users can submit content directly into our article queue through their computers.

Content is moderated then set live just like any other article, it can then by distributed through our social media channels and content networks.

There are two main reasons behind the move:

  1. We want to encourage more individuals and organisations to contribute to the site by making the process as easy as possible.
  2. We are trying to keep up with the ways that we are sent content. Previously it would be common to be sent a Word document attached in an email. Sometimes this would include a picture, sometimes it wouldn’t, (Love Shrewsbury requires an image for all article). Content is then copy & pasted, images manually resized and the article is scheduled to go live. This worked well in some scenarios however as we are being sent more media heavy releases and content optimised for search engine ranking it was clear that a Word document wasn’t cutting it anymore. People needed the tools to be able to contribute online as they would on their own blog. Given we have a very good online work flow for this it made sense to open up the process.

Contributing to Love Shrewsbury is available now, to submit an article use this form.

Love Shrewsbury Website Partners with New Local App

The team behind the popular Love Shrewsbury website are pleased to announce today, that they have formed an exciting partnership with Shrewsbury’s latest and unique app – infoBeetle.

Launched this summer, infoBeetle’s aim is to provide a definitive guide to Shrewsbury and the surrounding area. The special app lists local events, pubs, restaurants, tourist attractions, businesses and of most interest to users – exclusive offers which can be redeemed by displaying the app to retailers.

Love Shrewsbury is a successful website which offers dedicated and varied news content on Shrewsbury – and as such, developing a link with the infoBeetle app couldn’t be more appropriate.

Speaking of the partnership, Pete White of Love Shrewsbury says “Through our new collaboration with infoBeetle, we will be displaying their offers and news items, on the Love Shrewsbury website. It’s a great way of delivering even more fresh and interesting content to our site visitors – people that really do, love Shrewsbury!” He added “We are always keen to ensure that we are at the forefront of what’s happening in the town – and the infoBeetle app is a positive addition to Shrewsbury’s technology scene.”

The infoBeetle app is available from the App store – as well as the Android App store too. For further information visit www.infobeetle.co.uk – for local news and events in Shrewsbury, visit www.loveshrewsbury.com 

Love Shrewsbury Wins Silver at Mayor Awards!

A website dedicated to Shrewsbury which has gone from strength to strength over the past two years, has won Silver at this years Mayor of Shrewsbury awards in the business category.

Love Shrewsbury, the popular local news website operated by Pete White of web-development business The Web Orchard, was presented the award by current Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Jon Tandy.

The website has grown considerably since its initial inception and offers visitors the opportunity to gain quality magazine style news content that’s local but most importantly interesting and informative. Pete believe the Mayor’s award is a great symbol of the recognition that the Love Shrewsbury site has achieved a popular following across the town.

Speaking of their award, Pete said “We’re thrilled to have recognition for the hard work we’ve put into the project over the past two years, I would like to thank everyone who has supported us in setting up the business and launching the website.”

In addition to news content, Love Shrewsbury provides blogs from local people – covering areas such as recycling, fashion and charity news.

One Year of Love Shrewsbury

One year ago today the Love Shrewsbury website was revealed after months of hard work and development. The aim was simple, to portray all the towns positive offerings, from community stories, business success, local events to towns people who wanted a voice.

The companies behind the project met when Michael Tinkler commissioned The Web Orchard to build the website for Severn Magazine. With over a decade of experience in Blogging The Web Orchard knew how to make online publishing work, partnering with Severn Magazines’ editorial experience seemed an obvious match.

Love Shrewsbury’s development was an interesting process, the county has well established media outlets and we wanted something bold and unique to stand out. We chose a vibrant and energetic colour scheme and based the logo on the towns popular Darwin monument.

The result was a resounding success and went way beyond our expectations. Over the coming months Love Shrewsbury quickly became the most visited site dedicated to Shrewsbury.

Key to the sites initial growth was the work that was put into growing social media channels. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to be able to read our content hence our Facebook, Twitter, RSS and weekly newsletter have been incredibly popular. Features such as our trending page allow users to see whats currently popular with the sites visitors.

Another big success has been our integrated image galleries, coverage of the Shrewsbury Flower Show, Minsterley Show, Fields Forever Festival, Street Festival and Shrewsbury Prison Tour have been some of the most popular articles.

For all the success we’ve had in the past year the one day that stands out the most has been 1st April when we reported that Shrewsbury was to get an Airport. The story went viral around the town and it was a key moment where we won over many casual readers to become regulars.

We’re looking forward to the next 12 months and have some great articles, competitions and bloggers lined up.

Mobile Takes Over

For the first time, over the past 30 days, on Love Shrewsbury (20th March – 20th April) the number of people visiting the site via a mobile device has overtaken the number of visits from desktop users.

Mobile visitors have been slowly creeping up since we launched however only in the past 30 days has the balance tipped (53% mobile to 47% desktop).

Of the mobile traffic 69% was from iOS, 27% Android, 2.4% Blackberry and 1.2% Windows Mobile, showing the dominance of Apple devices with our visitors.

Currently Love Shrewsbury has no mobile or responsive offering meaning that the majority of users are simply seeing the scaled desktop website.

This put us in an interesting opportunity to grow traffic once we have this in place. Our thinking behind the site will also have to change as our users will be primarily mobile, no longer will the mobile offering play second best to the desktop.

April Fools on Love Shrewsbury

When I was writing the April Fools editorial in bed at 8.30 yesterday morning it didn’t cross my mind that it would be the best day ever on the site. We over doubled our previous visits record, 5 times the average good days traffic and even got mentioned on local radio.

What was really interesting about the day was how quickly the article went viral and how quickly it started to bring visitors to the site. I published the article at 9.09, I immediately shared this on the Love Shrewsbury Facebook Page (with an audience of 877 likes), I then reshared to my personal Facebook friends (an audience of about 500). I then shared on my personal Twitter (knowing that the Love Shrewsbury Twitter would be tweeted automatically from IFTTT).

Almost instantly people started to click through to the website. Between 9.09 and 12pm traffic was fairly consistently showing 20-25 people reading the article. Just after 12 we broke the sites previous hits record (set sometime last year), by 9pm we had doubled this amount.

What was also interesting is the number of people that used the Facebook like button within the page, as I write this post it has 163 likes, given we struggle to get comments on the site its good to see people interacting in this way.

We’ve put a lot of work into developing our social media channels and days like yesterday so how effective they can be in distributing content and bringing traffic to the site.

The big challenge is continuing to develop content, the 1st of April only comes round once a year and this sort of article wouldn’t work any other time.

Today we have a great photographic piece about the closed Shrewsbury prison that I was hoping would be the big article of the week however something tells me it won’t cause as big a stir!

Twitter Automation with Drupal Views and IFTTT

Drupal Views is one of the most powerful modules available, paired with the automation service IFTTT you can post to Twitter in some fancy ways.

On a basic level on the Love Shrewsbury site we use IFTTT to post the title and link of the RSS feed to Twitter. Drupal views allows you to take this further with greater control of the RSS feed. Therefore we created a second RSS feed that only shows articles once they have been live for 8 hours, this is then posted to Twitter through IFTTT saying ‘Did you miss? <title> <url>’.

This was done in the following way:

1. Create a new View and add the feed display.

2. Set the url to be something like rss8hours.xml and set the sort criteria to be Post Date (desc)

3. Add a filter for the content type you want then add a filter for Post Date

4. Set the operator to ‘is less than’ and an offset of the current time to ‘- 8 hours’.

5. Save the View and you will have an RSS feed of content once it is 8 hours old.

6. Login (or signup) to IFTTT and click on Create.

7. Set the trigger to be feed and select new feed item.

8. Enter the feed URL and select create trigger.

9. Click ‘that’ and select Twitter.

10. Select an action of ‘Post a Tweet’

11. Customise the text (for instance I use the phrase ‘Did you miss?’ before the <title> and <url>).

12. Click Create Action

IFTTT will check your RSS feed every 15minutes and aumatically post any new items in the RSS feed to Twitter (if something has already been posted it won’t repost).

We found this method to almost double our traffic from Twitter as we were attracting people checking Twitter at different times. A lot of our articles go live late morning so an 8 hour delay was Tweeting early evening.

Tripling Twitter Visits Through IFTTT

Over the past week we’ve managed to triple the number of visits to Love Shrewsbury and Love Telford from Twitter. We’ve been using the website ifttt to automate the posting of RSS feed items to Twitter.

On a basic level we created a recipe to post the sites news & comments RSS feeds to automatically to twitter, this had a small increase in traffic as we already posted most links manually.

I then created an RSS feed in Drupal that only showed an article once it was 8 hours old, I set this to tweet ‘Did you miss? <title> <url>’ – this tripled our traffic from Twitter!

Given that we posted most articles in the day nothing was going on Twitter in the evening – by delaying by 8 hours this has now solved that and we have a whole different audience clicking through to the Love Shrewsbury/Telford site.