WJW, Tribune’s Fox affiliate, is tops in social media actions in the market over the last six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.
WJW has more than 7.5 million social actions, 30% of the 25.7 million total engagement generated by the DMA (No. 19).
WJW also lead in actions per post with 461.
Cleveland.com, a news website owned by Advanced Publications, led on both Instagram and Twitter with more than 850,000 and 189,000 actions respectively.
It’s unusual for one media outlet to outperform all others on social media in a market as much as WJW is doing on Facebook in Cleveland.
Andy Fishman, WJW’s news director, and Jessica Bates, the station’s managing editor, attribute most of their success on Facebook to experimentation, selective content and constantly responding to what their followers post.
“We are always experimenting,” says Bates.
“What worked for us this morning may not be successful for us in the afternoon. We’re going to take risks. Maybe it’s a graphic. Maybe it’s a video.”
Bates says bringing their followers into the conversation is critical to their success.
“It’s about what’s hot at the moment, striking when the iron is hot, jumping on stories as they’re developing, finding that story that people want to share on their walls. We know that their walls are very personal to them.”
Bates knew that the people in Cleveland were sick of the snow, so the station created a little graphic post counting down to spring.
“It was a simple graphic. But at the end of the day, sometimes you don’t need to overthink it. They loved that. They shared that, because that’s how they were feeling. It’s about listening to the followers and knowing what they want to respond to.”
Being selective about what to post, quality over quantity, is another factor in WJW’s success on Facebook, says Fishman, noting that while other media outlets post far more content, his station leads in actions per post.
“That tells me that Jessica and her team are doing a great job of identifying content that’s pertinent to our viewers. What we do put out there is having a good impact in terms of engaging with our audience.”
Engaging with WJW’s audience means answering their questions and responding to their messages on Facebook, says Bates.
“We respond to each and every one. We don’t just throw up the content and walk away. It’s a constant conversation that we’re having with our followers.”
Bates says another factor contributing to the station’s high engagement is a liberal dose of Facebook Live.
“Local, national, from morning until midnight, we are always looking for opportunities. It could be giving you a live picture from a beach, because we have six feet of snow outside and people are tired of looking at it.”
Fishman says the station sometimes starts a Facebook Live then drives people back to the television set.
“We’re trying to find ways to take our TV audience and have them be part of our Facebook experience, and take our Facebook audience and bring them to the television set.”
“We have a doctor who works at the Cleveland Clinic,” says Bates. “He will do his morning show segment, then a Facebook Live with him about that topic. Those do really well.”
Facebook Lives from the scene of breaking news also do well for WJW.
“We had a shooting at a local mall,” says Fishman. “And we had a reporter who was right there shortly after it happened. People wanted to know about it. So we want to be that destination where they know we’re going to have the information that they’re looking for as it is happening.”
WJW regularly uses Facebook followers’ comments in a segment called Plugged-In, which airs during the station’s morning news.
“Another segment we do is called Trending,” says Fishman. “It’s a quick look at the stories that people are engaging on, and then we’ll expand on them.”
Facebook is also a source for many news tips, some of which lead to big news stories, like the recent tip about a local hospital where they had a problem in their fertility clinic.
“It’s a very big story,” says Fishman. “Network news has covered it.”
Fishman says that ultimately, being the legacy station in the market, helps its success on Facebook.
“We’re a No. 1 station on the air, and because of that, that helps build up our social media, and I think our social media helps build up our ratings.”