parthenon analytics graph overlaid on eclipse graphic

How to Exploit a Solar Eclipse

Some people didn’t plan ahead for #Eclipse2017. We know — we were shocked. Rather, some of us were, namely the one who went all the way to NASA to prepare.

The rest of us? We were slummin’ it with the non-planners, scrambling to decide whether to spring for a viewing-party ticket or just to make sure our glasses were real lest we scorch our corneas while staring at the sun and slamming Moon Pies.

But while we weighed those heavy matters, we made time to do what we do best: exploit a magical moment via content marketing.

And it worked: with our 3-day promotion of the Top 3 Last-Minute Nashville Eclipse Planning Tips, we increased our website traffic 1,000% over the previous week using less than $300.

spike in parthenon analytics during eclipse weekend

Here are 3 of the ways we did it:

1. Latch onto the latecomers.

If you’re closing in on a big event and realize you’ve missed the planning boat, recognize that you’re not the only one.

Seeing how truly ill-prepared his coworkers were for a once-in-400-years event, eclipse expert Joe Hills decided to throw us a bone and, in turn, we threw Nashville one.

Armed with his NASA knowledge, Joe thought of 3 Nashville-specific tips and made them bite-sized enough for the last-minute consumer.

Doing things on the fly requires flexibility, but it can result in big gains: this time, to the tune of 9,570 pageviews in less than one week.

2. Know your target market — and its flip side.

When Joe brought us this idea, our target market was obvious: idiots like us who had failed to recognize until now that this was a big freaking deal.

But having experience turning followers into readers, we realized there was a second audience to be had, if discreetly: all those smart people like Joe who did prepare extensively and who would want to know if they’d done it right.

So the blog title changed from “How to Prepare for the Solar Eclipse” to the tighter, more action-based “Top 3 Last-Minute Nashville Eclipse Planning Tips.”

That worked because:

  • At a glance, people knew we had a fast, specific to-do list, and they could either learn from it (idiots like us) or measure their own list against it (smart people like Joe).
  • To bring in those folks, we targeted people who’d shown an interest in NASA or space-related content already in addition to our general followers and friends, increasing our audience.
  • Perhaps most importantly, we started by targeted people who live in Nashville versus everyone in Nashville and that’s a crucial difference. On Facebook, this lesser-used but key setting helped us ensure we were hitting locals and not just people who were passing through, thereby increasing the likelihood of gaining a follower who would enjoy our content in the future.

Eventually we opened it wider to all of Nashville, and overall the campaign garnered 6,773 link clicks and increased our Facebook followership by 7%.

facebook analytics for unsung nashville eclipse post

3. Target tightly.

Facebook makes it really easy to mash the “boost post” button and let you “promote for 3 days.”

But if we had done just that on Friday, our promotion would’ve run through Monday afternoon, wasting precious pre-event dollars in the process.

So after we boosted the post, we flipped over to ads manager and specified the promotion should stop before 10 a.m.

That way, we made sure we shot our budget well before people would be stopping work to view the eclipse, and that any residual shares would hopefully show up in feeds pre-event.

So where did the rest of the pageviews come from?

Some came from Twitter, where we used a different strategy which we’re not going to outline here (a woman has to have her secrets, and also, I’m tired), and that gave us 1,000 more views.

But the overall point is this: No matter how late in the game you realize something matters, if you’ve got valuable information to offer, some creativity and a minimal ad buy, you can get in on the action.

See you the next time a dragon eats the sun.

twitter analytics eclipse post