SOCIAL MEDIA: Who’s Counting?

I spend a fair amount of time cruising various station Facebook pages while watching TV in the evening (cable, streaming, DVR). I know it’s quite a life I lead. Really, it’s ok.

It gives me chance to second screen – sometimes third screen – to see what’s happening around the country and what people are talking about. You could call me a social yenta. I love to see what stations post, what they think is engaging social and what’s getting traction. Often I see a disconnect between what the station thinks is interesting versus what the user cares about.

But there’s an even bigger fundamental strategic error stations are making that concerns me.

Many stations now use third party services that rate how their posts did versus other station posts in the market. In one station review, I saw a station boast how its site got more likes and comments than another station in the group or in the market. Honestly, some of this data is noise, irrelevant and a distracting “shiny object.” Really, who cares whether station X had more likes that Station Y? It’s what you do with that post that makes the difference.

Stations are using these tools like the new generation of overnight ratings. “Our page did better than the other guys. We won.”  What did you win?

Unlike ratings, you don’t make money because you had the most views on Facebook that day in your market. You make the money if they get to one of your revenue platforms.

That’s why I think it’s absolutely the wrong way to look statistical measurement of social media. The ultimate goal of digital media for many businesses is to raise awareness about your product and get people to buy it. Heck, watch Shark Tank. Entrepreneurs are using social media not to get the most comments or shares, but to get people to buy their product – transactional business.

That’s how stations should look at their Facebook pages. (Please don’t put much energy in Twitter. It has a small following base, inactive users and rarely do they click on a link as a referral engine.)

Facebook is a referral engine to your revenue platforms – whether to read something on your site or to drive people to watch a newscast. For many stations it is the number one referral engine. One station I work with gets almost 48% of its website traffic from Facebook. Do you know your numbers?

So how should you measure your social media activity?

A valuable metric to look at is what percentage of your posts drove people to your money-making platforms. Yes, it may be great your post had the most viewers or comments. But a post lower on the report card might actually have had more value because it converted a higher percentage to your digital platforms.

Those of us who live in TV have lived by the Nielsen god. Every morning we raced to see the numbers. Did we keep the lead-in? Did we hold people through the newscast? Did we have the most viewers in the key demos. That’s money.

But social media isn’t the money-maker; it’s the marketing tool to get users to your money-makers. Bottom line: take a step back and think about what the numbers you see actually offer. Are they an ego boost “we had the most views in the market?” Or, are you looking at what posts pushed people to your revenue sites and using that data to create a strategy?  After a while you can actually develop a robust referral strategy.

Successful stations are delving into the metrics everyday – whether it’s a live Chartbeat monitor in the newsroom or a look at the web referral numbers or the Insight data that show engagement which helps the brand.

It’s not hard, but it’s a very different mindset – a special challenge to those of us who for years relied on overnights to tell us how we did with no data on how, why or what drove your numbers. In today’s terms, it’s not the number of likes or comments you generate. It’s all about how and where you can send those users to your money-making platforms.

If we can help please give me a shout. sschwaid@cjni.com

By | 2016-12-13T15:28:01+00:00 January 12th, 2016|Digital Strategy|0 Comments

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.