Last week while on Twitter, I came across a trivia question from a local weather station, one very similar to what TV stations do during a routine weather report.
It asked “how many lakes make up the Highland Lakes?” And then there were three options. The call to action, as you can see, asked the question and then asked followers to Tweet back their answers.
I thought this was a really simple, but effective way of engaging their audience.  And it reminded me of similar things newspapers have done in print that they easily could take to social media.
Here are eight trivia-like ideas newspapers could do on social media:
  •  Weather: Let’s start with the example already shared above. If you have a partnership with a TV station you could have their weatherperson provide a question. Even if you don’t have a partnership, you could reach out to a TV station or a weather expert (there’s always one of them in each town) who could help you with the questions. You could ditch all of that and just ask readers to predict the temperature, rain total or snow total, for the day.
  • History photo: Feature a photo from the past, potentially through your archives or from a historical society, and ask your audience to predict the year the event happened or name the event.
  • What is it? Take a photo of something in town — don’t make it obvious — like a portion of a popular landmark and ask your audience to guess what it is.
  • Scores of the game: Sort of like a tiebreaker in a football pool, ask your audience to predict the score of a Friday night football game or a professional game. If a game is going to be a blowout, ask which quarter the game will basically be over by.
  • How many yards: Another idea for a big game, is to ask readers to predict how many yards a quarterback may throw for or how many yards a running back might run for.
  • Food: Feature a recipe and ask readers to guess how much of a certain ingredient is needed. It’s even better if the recipe comes from a reader.
  • Trivia: A fun way to engage readers is to ask a trivia question, attribute appropriately or find a service that allows for the free use (think Trivial Pursuit)
  • Most popular movie: Ask your audience which movie is going to generate the most dollars at the box office over the weekend (and then link to your movies page). Or if a big movie is coming out, ask your followers to predict how many people are going to see it.
There are dozens and dozens of other ideas you could come up. Whatever you do, make it fun and use language in your post that is open and engaging.
If you are to go down the trivia path, it’s a good idea to pick a certain day to offer the trivia and try to brand it so it gets a following and a hashtag. But it’s also a good idea to be flexible and react to things in the news, like asking followers to predict what the snow total might be or the score to a big game.
Of course, if you can give out prizes for these kind of things, that’s great. But you could also Tweet out the first person to answer the question correctly, as a form of recognition.
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