Social Best Practices from Local TV Stations

Published on May 21st, 2015

by Gloria Stitt

A few weeks ago, Shareablee conducted a webinar on the State of Social in Local Media in which we identified industry-wide trends as well as best practices. After the webinar, we released an article discussing the key trends in the Local Media space. This post is Part Two, and looks at best practices that can be learned from the Local Media industry.

In 2014, social activity within the Local Media industry (specifically TV) grew 125%, a higher rate than the average US brand, which grew 108% in 2014 compared to 2013. Because social has become an incredibly important platform for news consumption, local media outlets have started focusing on expanding their social media footprint. While some DMAs are fixed on increasing fan growth and loyalty, other DMAs are strategizing to grow and expand their overall social footprint and increase their social presence in general.

A high level of unique engaged viewers is a critical component to sustainability. There is a bit of a misnomer that high levels of engagement and unique users are usually driven by contests and sweepstakes. While those are effective methods they tend to have short -lived results. We analyzed the top social performers in the space, as well as industry social trends, and compiled some of the best practices from local media.

Give People Something to Talk About

Facebook is all about participating in active conversation. Viewers have the opportunity to express their opinion, share in stories, and be part of a community. This goes to the notion of knowing who your audience is and what they expect from you on Facebook.

The top three performing posts based on total engagement were feel-good, heartwarming stories which included photos linking back to a full story on the stations’ websites.  In some cases, these stories were local in origin that grabbed national attention, but local media stations can just as easily take a national news story and give it a local spin and essentially own it in their markets. For example, the story of an Arizona family’s tragic loss of its mother during childbirth went viral on the national level, and then reposted by several local news stations across the country, each choosing different headlines and photo sets to cater to the social audiences in their respective geographies.

Encourage User-Generated Content

The most successful Instagram posts for news organizations are reposts of content contributed by their social audiences, and include a beautiful picture with a simple hashtag. Post requests for contributed content and feature these images on social, your news site or on-air during a segment while crediting the owner. The top two Instagram posts from the local media industry in Q1 2015 are below, and both are user-generated pieces of content. In the Local Media industry, Instagram saw a 343% growth in 2014 compared to 2013, further reinforcing that there is a huge opportunity for Local TV to play in this arena and increase their share of voice.

Video is Critical

Videos are becoming an increasingly dominant form of post type and Instagram is having a huge impact on that. In 2014, 53% of video engagement came just from Instagram. This is an incredibly important point for entities such as local TV that produce an amazing amount of video content.  Video shares represented about 38% of the most shared content on Facebook. Twitter has seen the highest growth in video engagement at 1,311%. In particular, the local media industry has seen an average 858% increase in engagement on video tweets on Twitter in Q1 2015, driven by a 5,794% increase in tweets containing video, compared to Q1 2014. The opportunity to use video for story lead-ins, tune-in and on-the-spot reporting is endless.

Timing is Key

Understanding when your audience is engaging with your content and what the composition of that content is that’s driving that engagement is critical. Here are some key factors that you should look for:

  • Time of day

  • Day of the week

  • What content type was it? Photo, video, link…

  • Did I use active language? Call to website, call to share?


Local Media has one of the richest portfolios of content to work with. It is a fact that more and more people are “discovering” news via social and engaging with the news they discover. This is driven primarily by mobile, but content is what creates the “sticky factor” and drives brand loyalty, higher referral traffic and engagement. It really begins with knowing what your objectives are:

  • Growing your engagement

  • Tracking referral traffic

  • Tracking reach and impressions

  • All of the above, or other objectives

  • Once you have identified the objective, then the rest falls into place.

To learn more, download the State of Social in Local Media presentation.

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