Facebook & TV Newsrooms: Advice That Will Surprise You

I’m so excited.

I just got off a call with Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, THAT Zuckerberg, the brain of Facebook. He called to thank me and thank you.

He talked about how stations have really embraced Facebook. “It’s so great that stations are putting so much of their video and producing content on Facebook live on our platform first. It’s great that TV stations have made it so easy for our users to see what’s going on right now on our platform. We really appreciate it.”

He added, “It’s awesome. We get all this great content, especially live, and we
don’t have to pay for it. In fact, we make money because more people come to our platform. We call it a win-win.”

I told him I thought it was a lose-lose for stations. I told him in the beginning it was a great symbiotic relationship. But…

We started out working with our clients on posting specific demo-focused
stories that linked back to their local websites and, more importantly, I explained how stations could use it as a branding and promotion platform. And it worked. We saw how we could drive ratings via Facebook. Yes, we recommended posting certain content such as breaking news and limited weather but always pushing users to the station’s broadcast, website and apps to see all of the material.

But then it turned into something else.  It’s now almost a parasitic relationship.

Stations give and give and give to provide live coverage, live weather coverage and streaming newscasts and other “exclusive material” on Facebook’s platform. And what do they get in return?  Maybe nothing. I’m not sure anyone can quantify it.

I think he saw my point, but Zuckerberg said he had to hang up because Facebook just gained another 10,000 or so users during our five-minute call. But as he signed off, he reminded me that Facebook’s goal is to be every digital user’s home page and the source of news and information for its users.  “That’s why we call it The Newsfeed.”  He even seemed to be warming up to calling Facebook a media company.

Thanks to stations and other media sources pushing folks to Facebook the company has its hooks into content hungry users. We did a great job.

Facebook has truly become the home page for many users. It’s the first app they open on their phone and use 5, 10, 20 times a day. It’s the first place they might go on the PC. They might actually have their Facebook page marked as their home page and keep it open all day long.

Basically, Facebook has become the starting place, a portal of sorts where users can see what’s going on in “their world,” — get news, weather information, real-time sports scores, etc.  The latest numbers show Facebook has 1.79 billion users; 1 billion are active monthly and up to 500 million may use Facebook daily.

Again, when we started with clients we saw Facebook as an opportunity to promote specific demo focused content to drive folks to your newscasts, especially those on Facebook in the evening

But many stations have gone way beyond that – putting content – especially LIVE content on FB before putting it on their own digital platforms. In fact, I’ve seen cases where stations are streaming live breaking news on Facebook but nothing on their app or website. What’s gone are the demo-focused posts intended to get viewers and users to your revenue platforms.

Here’s my suggestion to stations.


Take a breath. Determine what your Facebook goals are. Everything you do on Facebook should help you. In the end, the goal is to drive folks to YOUR platforms:  TV, apps, website, etc.

Once you have a clear strategy, communicate it internally and then monitor what is posted. Use insights to see what content is working and create more of it. Look at what is not working and stop producing that content.

Can Facebook help your brand and promote your content? Sure. But so much of the content I see these days is just a video spigot from the station with no effort to drive users to your platform. It’s not a differentiator or a driver – just content Facebook can monetize.

Facebook has become a true content platform. It’s going to produce long-form entertainment shows while also looking at doing deals with the NFL and other sports.

Facebook could soon become that true one-stop content platform for everything – including local news – unless stations start again looking at Facebook as a referral engine and NOT as their content platform.

(BTW, I assume you figured out I never actually spoke with Zuckerberg. He called, but I was too busy talking with Bill Gates.)


About the Author:

Today developing an effective digital media strategy is critical for revenue growth and brand-building. Steve is working with station groups, website developers, content suppliers, and others to in three key areas: social media, web and mobile. In addition, Steve puts his extensive television news expertise to work for clients helping them develop and refine their on-air product. Steve has led news operations in markets across the country including Philadelphia, Atlanta, Hartford and Tampa. In addition, he has served as an executive at the corporate level for NBC Universal and Meredith Local Media leading strategic growth and digital content initiatives. Most recently, Steve was vice president of news at WTXF, FOX Philadelphia where he took all newscasts from a fourth place position to second or first. Steve has also served on several industry boards and is the winner of many awards including the Georgia AP Best Website Award and numerous Emmy awards.