Friday, August 5, 2011

Social Media News - Discovering the Value

More and more, traditional media outlets are hoping to take advantage of social media's ability to reach large numbers of people in a more interactive, engaging way.
A recent RTNDA/Hofstra survey of U.S. local TV stations shows social media being embraced by most stations, with the possible exception of "the smallest stations in the smallest markets."  In fact, they report that more than 90% of TV stations participate on Facebook or Twitter, and stations are beginning to see social media as more than a way of reaching audiences or for promotion.  According to the director of the research project.
“There appears to have been a shift in the last year from using social media primarily as a promotional tool to using it heavily — if not primarily — to have conversations with the audience ... Most news directors noted seeking comments, feedback or interaction. Some talked about livechat and crowdsourcing, but most of the comments dealt with conversations.”
The survey provides some additional details as to how local TV stations use social media.  More than two-thirds of station reported incorporating social networking into their content and storytelling.  36% of stations report using Twitter "constantly", but another third report using Twitter sporadically or not at all.  On Facebook, about a quarter of stations report only having a single page focused on the station, and 32% report  their single page is tied to the newsroom.  Another 37% have separate pages for both the station and the newsroom.
The report indicates that utilization of social networking by radio station still lags, despite large gains in the last year. This year, two-thirds of station report some use of social networking, while only one-third reported doing so last year.

Another report from NetProspex looked at business use of social media in the U.S.  The New York Times topped the list, and the Washington Post also made in into the top ten.  Walt Disney comes in at number 11, while Scripps Networks ranked 14th. Their study also indicated that local TV stations was the industry making the most use of Twitter.

One example of the increased emphasis comes from the 'Today' show.  This year, producers at NBC's 'Today' show began encouraging both fans and performers at their summer concert series to share tweets and photos.  Producers created unique Twitter hashtags for each event, and posted signs encouraging its use during concerts. 
After the show, they use Instagram to share and curate photos, and then assemble top tweets and photos into a story that is posted on Storify.
Senior 'Today" producer Melissa Lonner commented that, as a result, “Our concert fans show up with their cell phones to every performance ... Social media has allowed fans to immediately share the concert experience with their friends and family, and their participation has energized the concert-going experience.”
One outside indicator of success was that May's Rhiannon concert became the #2 trending topic worldwide.

There are many ways that media can use social networking - for promotions, for building greater connections with audiences and building communities, and for tracking news, events, and topics.  While not every potential use will benefit everyone, social media provide tremendous opportunity for innovation, with a little investment of time and effort.

Sources:  "Most TV stations embracing social media",
"RTDNA/Hofstra Survey Finds Changing Social Media Landscape for TV & Radio: Focus Shifts From Promotional to Conversational", RTNDA release
"NYTimes, TV stations among ‘most social’ companies",
"NetProspex Social Business Report", NetProspex release
"'TODAY' Show Engages Concert Crowds On Social Media",

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