Should they give away free news to users on Facebook who want it now, or use Facebook to drive users to their other screens that pay the bills, like their websites or newscasts?
I follow many TV stations’ Facebook posts, and have interviewed many local TV executives about their use of Facebook for a weekly series called Social Scorecard on TVNewsCheck‘s sister site NetNewsCheck.
And almost universally, they mention this struggle between giving users free news and/or enticing users to go to the stations’ other screens, where there’s revenue.
Many stations report that upwards of 70% of their web traffic comes directly from Facebook.
And although it’s difficult to tie increased news ratings on TV directly to Facebook, many stations say they see a relationship.
So how are stations using their Facebook pages to get their fans to watch on TV, or go to their website?
Here are some random examples I found from the stations I follow on Facebook. By the way, if you want me to like/follow your station’s Facebook page, email me the link at [email protected].
It’s the November ratings period, so many stations are using Facebook to promote special reports for their TV newscasts.
In some cases, the Facebook promo is the same as the TV promo. But in many cases, the Facebook promo is different since it needs to be effective without any audio, as it’s been reported that 85% of Facebook users watch videos with the sound turned off.
I looked for posts that had a clear “call to action” to watch in either the post or the promo.
Here’s one from KNTV, the NBC O&O in San Francisco:
#WeInvestigate a surge in gun store burglaries and uncover the reasons behind this dangerous trend. WATCH tonight at 11pm.Stephen Stock • Investigative Reporter reports.
Posted by NBC Bay Area on Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Here’s one from KGPE, Nexstar’s CBS affiliate in Fresno, Calif.:
Eyewitness News Investigates, tonight at 11pm. Legalized marijuana on the November ballot. Ken Malloy takes you to Oregon to see if pot is bringing in millions. The impact to our youth and the danger to public safety. Legal Weed. https://www.facebook.com/CBS47/ and onYourCentralValley.com.EYEWITNESS NEWS | TONIGHT AT 11PM#CBS47EyewitnessNewsInvestigates
Posted by CBS47 Fresno on Wednesday, November 2, 2016
KPIX, the CBS O&O in San Francisco, made sure that you got the pitch even if you didn’t listen to the spot:
Do you know who your school board candidates are?Out-of-state billionaires do.Why big money is making its way into small Bay Area races.Watch tonight at 11pm on KPIX 5 News.
Posted by KPIX CBS San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday, November 1, 2016
WXIA, Tegna’s NBC affiliate in Atlanta, posted this promo for a special report later this week. Very interesting opening shot but no font on the screen.
Trigger: Who Shot The Officer's Wife? We'll let you see the evidence for yourself, Thursday…
Posted by Brendan Keefe 11Alive on Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Here’s another Facebook post from WXIA. This time, the call to action is to watch the video on its website.
WSOC, the Cox NBC affiliate in Charlotte, N.C., used some silent bus security footage to promote this story:
(WARNING: Video may be disturbing to some.) Channel 9 has obtained surveillance video of CATS bus drivers being attacked. After one driver told Channel 9 this is common, anchor John Paul investigated and asked what CATS is doing about it. Watch his story at 6:14 p.m. http://on.wsoctv.com/2eV98CG
Posted by WSOC-TV on Monday, October 31, 2016
Some stations use Facebook Live to engage users and like to use Facebook Live just minutes prior to a newscast. Giving users a tour of the studio is also a popular and engaging topic for Facebook Live.
Here’s one from KABC, the ABC O&O in Los Angeles:
WRC, the NBC O&O in Washington, also tried a behind-the-scenes approach of just sitting down with the main on-air team to discuss what stories are coming up in the late news.
The News4 late-night crew is breaking down our top stories tonight. Watch us at 11!
Posted by NBC Washington on Wednesday, November 2, 2016
The local weather forecast has researched for years as the main reason viewers watch local news. And while I see Facebook posts from many stations giving the complete forecast, I don’t often see weather used on Facebook to drive viewers to watch the forecast on television.
Here’s one from KPIX, the CBS O&O in San Francisco, teasing the one night many parents and kids are craving sweet weather: