How Local Stations Use Social Media

Resources on Local Stations’ Use of Social Media

10 Local Digital Media Trends For 2014: NetNewsCheck takes a look forward into the coming year at some of the most important trends in tech, revenue and journalism that are relevant for local media. For example, “Video and content sharing networks will proliferate among and within local media companies”… “as pressures rise to bring content generating costs down.”
Source: NetNewsCheck, December 30, 2013

Social media campaigns by stations must not only comply with standard state or federal laws that apply to all promotions regardless of the delivery method, but they also must follow rules that are unique to social media. Here’s an overview of rules that stations will need to follow when implementing a social media promotion.
Source: TVNewsCheck, November 16, 2012

Tips for Local Stations Using Social Media

“The magic number for stations posting on Facebook ranges between 5 and 12 daily posts, according to a social media survey from Frank N. Magid Associates and the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.

Best social media practices among the stations in the survey include frequently sharing hard news and weather, and asking users questions to stoke interactivity. Worst practices included downplaying weather news, posting too infrequently or frequently and sharing feature content.”
Source:, 7/12/2012

“At a minimum, post items four or five hours before the news begins to push to the newscast. Monday through Friday, a “Hot Topic” related to the news of the day is posted by one of the anchors at 4:30 a.m. for people to comment on. Weeks says it’s rare to have less than 50 comments by 7. During the show, the anchors talk on the air about the question and user responses.

“If you’re going to do it right you need to be there all the time, especially for breaking news and weather events,” Weeks added. “You won’t believe the traffic that will drive to your sites and the newscast.”
Source:, 12/28/10

And if you do it right, social media can become a great driver: “Less than a year and a half after WJBK started actively using social media, Facebook is the second largest referrer to the station’s website (after Google).”
Source: TVNewsCheck, 4/24/12


A Pew Research audit of 32 local TV news websites finds that all but four offer video on their homepages, but the amounts range from 92% of all homepage stories to just 6%.  Roughly half, 14 of the 32, offer live streaming of their broadcast programs. In addition, 24 of the 32 have mobile apps with video watching capabilities in both the Android and Apple stores, and 18 have YouTube channels, though, again, the activity level there varied greatly.
Source: Pew Research Journalism Project, 3/14/14

SocialNewsDesk has many case studies spotlighting stations that used their social media not only for engagement, but as a substantial revenue stream. For example, KSAT in San Antonio, TX (DMA 36) devised a 12-day holiday Facebook contest that brought in more than $30,000 for the station, plus 8,000 new likes on their own page and 600 — 4,200 new likes for sponsors. Indianapolis-based WXIN created a ‘Fan of the Day’ sweepstakes social media sponsorship package, which now brings in $6,000/month for the station — a total of $72,000 in extra revenue for the year.
Source: SocialNewsDesk (1 & 2)

A tight race for digital leadership has SourceMedia's KCRG ABC affiliate and its newspaper, The Gazette, in the lead but closely followed by Quincy-owned KWWL. This in-depth article details how local digital competitors have been experimenting with online video, user-generated content and social media to engage their audiences.
Source: NetNewsCheck, 10/4/12

In addition to breaking news, television stations have embraced Facebook and Twitter in recent years to keep viewers up-to-date with story developments between news broadcasts. Now, they are expanding to additional platforms to share content. WGCL-TV (CBS) in Atlanta, like many TV news outlets across the country, produces a mini-newscast each morning that is sent directly to viewers’ cell phones. Stories are about 15 seconds long and include the day’s weather and top stories.

WESH-TV’s (NBC) recent all-Casey-Anthony, all-the-time coverage included an iPhone app which allowed Orlando, Fla. viewers – and beyond – to receive a play-by-play of the court proceeding on their smartphones, including text updates, video reports, photos and access to thousands of pages of legal documents. According to the website Lost Remote, the 99-cent app topped the paid news app chart on iTunes at one point.
Source: InVocus Media News Center, 8/26/11

Oklahoma station KOCO’s tornado app 4WarnMe has been downloaded by an estimated 118,000 people (according to app stat tracking site The app features tornado alerts by county, maps (including Doppler radar and wind info), coverage from KOCO, and disaster preparedness info and checklists. The app also includes a feature to share your own tornado images and video, which KOCO might use on TV.
Source: KOCO 3/26/12

KABC in Los Angeles teamed up with the user-generated traffic app Waze as part of its coverage of "Carmageddon," when a stretch of California's 405 Freeway was shut down in July 2011. Now all ABC owned TV stations partner with Waze according to Rebecca Campbell, president of ABC Owned TV Stations.
Source: WSJ 7/5/11

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