Facebook Vs. Your News App

By Steve Schwaid, CJ&N VP of Digital Services.

Maybe it’s just me. But I don’t get it.

Why do some TV stations continue making Facebook their primary platform for breaking news and especially breaking video instead of their own platforms? Why not make sure the content gets on the station’s revenue platforms?

Facebook is a marketing platform. Sure, use it to tell people you have a big live story. If there is critical public safety information, use Facebook as a tool to communicate. Maybe run a video clip. But it should be no more than a tool to drive people to YOUR sites.

I see more stations putting content on Facebook, especially live video content and never putting it on their site. Here are two examples that happened within hours of each other.

The first is from Kansas City using Facebook to push me to watch a live breaker. And I’m not picking on KCTV – this is something that’s all too common.

It’s great to use Facebook to tell users about the story.  But when you look at the stations revenue-producing platforms (the news app and the mobile website), there was no sign of the story.

Here are screen shots of their app and their mobile site – no sign of the breaker.

As a user, why should I clutter my phone with apps when I know the station will send me a Facebook notification and I can see it live on my Facebook feed?

Here’s another instance just a short time later. This time the story was a chopper crash in Tampa. I was sent Facebook notification for a WTSP live feed. They rang up a great number of views, but it was mostly great for Facebook since Facebook gets all the user data for sales.

Now, you have to give WTSP credit for linking to its site for more info. But what I didn’t get as a user was video. Why was there no video on its revenue platforms? Even on its app there was no video.

Seriously, why DO we keep making Facebook the primary “news app” users may need? Is it a station culture issue?  Is it a station ego issue showing how many likes, views and shares they have? Is it a work flow issue? Is it a publishing issue with their apps and mobile sites?

It’s a question stations need to answer. And if it turns out to be a publishing issue then shame on us as an industry for not developing tools that compete with Facebook.

There are stations that use push alerts extremely well to get users to their apps for breaking news. They get thousands of views and never feed the Facebook cash register. When it comes to news content, maybe stations should focus more on their platforms than Mark Zuckerberg’s.

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