Raycom-owned WTVM has a commanding lead in both total actions and overall fans/followers in the Columbus, Ga. Market according to Shareablee data. Its news director credits Facebook Live with helping to widen the gap with its competitors.
By: Michael Depp
Columbus, Ga., is a growing social media market for local competitors with more than 1.5 million actions in the last six months, up 31% over the previous six-month period according to Shareablee data.
In that field, the audience insight firm also puts Raycom Media’s ABC affiliate WTVM in the lead with almost 738,000 total actions in that period, distantly followed by the Ledger-Enquirer with just over 353,000 actions in second place.
WTVM captured the lead on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all with 9% engagement growth across the platforms over the previous six-month period.
The station also has the market’s largest base of fans/followers with over 160,000.
News Director Shawn Reynolds says that the station’s strong, but judicious, adoption of live streaming has helped boost its performance overall.
“What we’re doing is using Facebook Live more advantageously,” he says, especially when severe weather passes through the viewing area.
If a storm warrants wall-to-wall coverage on air and on the station’s owned digital properties, then Reynolds says it will also live stream the content as well and dramatically boost its reach, sometimes to over 500,000.
While WTVM’s use of the platform has ramped up to five or six times a week on average, Reynolds says he’s careful not to live stream just for the sake of it.
“We use it when we feel the need to do it,” he says. “We let the content dictate when we go live.”
Reynolds credits Whitney Wingate, the station’s digital marketing director, with playing a key role in shaping its social strategy, along with a cadre of younger staffers “who came out of college knowing how to use Facebook.”
And sometimes the station just catches lightning in a bottle, such as the high school senior whose NASCAR-themed prom invitation to her special needs best friend (and date) had 359,000 views, along with a highly-viewed succession of follow up videos including when the pair met NASCAR hero Kyle Busch.
WTVM’s success with the platform has been enough to convince Reynolds that eventually Facebook Live will help to change the broadcast product itself, especially as the core broadcast audience ages further. “It should be a seamless experience for the consumer across any platform,” he says.
Until then, WTVM will be keeping Facebook and Twitter bright with content, and reaping the engagement that comes with it.
“I liken social media to a bar that never closes,” Reynolds says. “If I put out something at three in the morning, I’m going to get a response back.”