These three true stories share a vital trait that can you can adopt to boost your mood -- and your value and visibility with others -- as an individual and for your organization: "Thief Apologizes And Returns Money To Nashville Market 11 Years Later," "How Google Maps Led To the Rescue of A Los Angles Stray Dog," and "Valentine's Gesture From Dead Husband To Wife Will Make You Melt."
The common trait? They are uplifting good news stories.
As The Huffington Post has discovered, good news coverage is a gold mine, which would not surprise Contagious author, Jonah Berger, who found that we are most likely to share good news on social networks. The percentage of referral traffic from social channels to The Huffington Post's Good News section is much greater -- almost three times more -- than the amount of social referral traffic to their overall website. These stories boost readership, engagement and advertisers' interest.
And The Huffington Post's Good News Facebook page already has almost 40,000 followers. As their editorial director of social impact platforms, Riddhi Shah, enthused to me:
We've seen a lot of growth in the last two months as we've increasingly focused on follower engagement -- we ask them questions, ask fans to send us photos, share inspirational quotes, happy facts of the day, etc. We've transformed it from just a place for news updates from HuffPost Good News to a destination for sharing stories, insights and quotes that inspire awe -- and sometimes spur others to emulate those actions and share them afterwards.
1. Flourish Holding the Three-Faceted Gem of Sharing Good News
Sharing good news generates three nourishing benefits. You boost happiness and inclination towards acting in good will in yourself and in those who see the story, plus you shine in the reflected glow of the story you share. As you make creating and sharing good news sharing a habit, you may move beyond the momentary hedonic highs to a more enduring mood of eudaimonia. Seeing good news on television, for example, lifts one's mood, according to Michelle Gielan, founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research, who speculates that watching good news on TV on an ongoing basis can have a more prolonged effect. And I speculate that becoming a champion of good news sharing can make you a magnet, pulling others closer and to bringing out their better side and yours, when around each other.
2. If You Are On the Lookout For Good News, You'll Find More
Helpfulness counts as good news and is an indelibly credible way for others to learn more about your organization. Keep an eye out for situations where your customers, employees, vendors or others created unexpected moments of happiness for others. They may have discovered how a practice or device in one situation could help yours, provided over-the-top help, responded heroically in a dire situation, or offered a valuable partnership or other opportunity.
"Ah" and "aha"-generating news can come in many forms. For example, Kevin Dutton vividly describes situations in Split-Second Persuasion where someone instinctively and instantly says something or takes action that turns a potentially volatile situation into a moment for collective bonding. People in those situations can't help sharing how they felt.
3. Make Your Good News Especially Memorable
Get specific sooner. Notice how the HuffPost headlines cited earlier had specifics like Nashville and Valentine? First tell the story, then cite the inherent takeaway lesson that can spur others to emulate the good behavior. Hint: The specific detail proves the general conclusion, not the reverse. That's why these stories are powerful specificity engines upon which you can speed others' sharing of your core message memorable.
Tie your engagement-inducing good news sharing to a holiday, specific positive emotion or explicit goal such as spurring camaraderie among your customers, constituency or online community. For example, HuffPost sought to encourage kindness during Thanksgiving, inspire gratitude and help our readers feel closer to each other.
4. Facilitate Bragging Rights: Help Others Look Good When They Participate
Provide multiple ways others can respond and add to the good news. In so doing you are creating what Tell to Win author, Peter Guber, calls a purposeful narrative where others see a role they can play in the story, and add to it as they do. The Huffington Post, for example, makes it easy to comment on the story, and when some comments involve a related story, they sometimes reach out to involve that reader in a separate follow-up column. Plus readers can see what friends of their from other social channels have liked or commented on a story. And, in one click, we can tweet a story we like. Hint: How can you reduce the steps it takes for others to share your good news stories?
What other companion categories of stories make you feel good in sharing? For example, The Huffington Post launched a Third Metric section to cover diverse examples of "redefining success beyond money and power" from "Why Exercise Is a Great Way to Boost Your Bottom Line" to "Why This Banker Quit Wall Street to Become a Monk" and "Improve Your Life by Improving the Lives of Others." By hosting a conference on the theme they created a further way for people to bond around the topic and "brag" about their favorite stories face to face.
5. Enabling Others to Use Best Talents in Doing Good Is Doubling Happiness
For an inspirational example of an all-volunteer, scalable generator of good news, see ServiceSpace's KarmaTube, where individuals use technology to take collective action on specific projects for the greater good, and learn from each other so they can adapt those projects to other situations. Like Quantified Self and Shareable the organizational model makes people feel good about participating because they know they are using best talents together on worthy efforts. Such models raise the bar of expectation as we view where we choose to contribute. Mutuality matters.
Just remember, as Edward R. Murrow once said, "We cannot make good news out of bad practice."
Follow Kare Anderson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kareanderson