WITI, Tribune’s Fox affiliate, is ahead in social media actions in the market over the last six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.
WITI has more than 4.4 million actions on social, 37% of the total engagement generated by the DMA (No. 35), with more than 12 million social actions.
WTMJ, the market’s NBC affiliate owned by Scripps, led the market in actions per post with 129.
WXSS-FM, a top 40 contemporary hits station owned by Entercom, led on Instagram during the same period with almost 80,000 actions.
One reason WITI leads the market on Facebook by 2 million is a football team whose home is 120 miles outside the market, the Green Bay Packers.
“The Packers are big,” says Cary Docter, WITI’s digital content executive producer. “Anything Packers related gets a lot of engagement.”
Docter points to a recent story of a popular Packers player who was released from the team.
“We got that posted online right away to Facebook and it just dominated the market. It even took over basically our biggest news story of the day yesterday and just basically consumed up all the social media energy that we had going. People definitely are passionate about their team.”
Crime also drives engagement, according to Docter.
“Yesterday, we posted some surveillance video from a home on Milwaukee’s south side. Three thugs broke down the back door, went into the house, took some things, and left. Three or four different cameras captured all of this. We posted it on Facebook and it generated just a ton of interest.”
John LaPorte, WITI’s news director, says use of the station’s drone adds a perspective on certain stories that helps drive interest.
“We had an apartment that was a controlled burn where they actually had an explosion due to all the highly explosive chemicals inside. The only way they could deal with the chemical situation was they had to purposely burn the apartment complex.”
LaPorte says the station not only had multiple crews and cameras on the scene, but the station’s drone.
The drone operator “was able to take our drone really close to the scene and we had some of the best pictures on social media and the website.”
Docter says Facebook Live of breaking news generates engagement, “especially if it’s happening right now. When we get those types of reports from reporters you can actually hear the tone in their voice that something urgent is going on.”
Docter believes that using Facebook Live from the scene of breaking news helps recruit viewers for the on-air newscast.
“When there is a breaking news situation at 10:30 in the morning or one-fifteen in the afternoon, people are getting their first sense of something is going on from social media, from our app, from our website and then when they get home after work and they are turning on the TV, Fox 6 was on that, I have got to see what they came up with and I think that’s always been a good way that the digital platform has helped aid the on air platform.”
But sometimes, says LaPorte, it’s the unusual story or video that gets traction and shared, like the video of something strange flying around in the sky.
“It just generated a ton of interest and literally was shared not only even around the country, but … around the world,” says Docter. “I know that there were people chiming in from Australia and other places.”
LaPorte says that to this day, “there are a lot of people still maintaining it was UFOs”
Not bad for a video that most believe were seagulls flying around in downtown Milwaukee.