Have a question about TV – social media strategy, websites and negative comments? Here’s our expert chat with an executive at Raycom Media.
I met Glen when he worked at WRTV here in Indy and he helped tremendously as we worked with Hoosier media and elected officials to establish the independent Indiana Debate Commission. Glen is now in charge of digital content for the growing Raycom Media at his company’s base in Alabama. We asked a few relevant questions about local TV news and social media – and how anyone in media manages to keep pace with online trolls.
Q: Why does it seem that TV stations favor Facebook over Twitter?
A: Facebook is much more valuable than Twitter from an audience referral standpoint. Free TV station websites depend on referrals to help drive overall distribution and revenue. Typically, Twitter drives a much lower referral volume than Facebook, but Twitter is still valuable as both a newsgathering and short form distribution tool.
Q: Why aren’t TV websites optimized for better search results?
A: This is typically the result of weak taxonomy tools available in the content management systems TV stations use and/or poor metadata management. Because most TV station content is short form and the shelf life of the material may not extend beyond a few days, it hasn’t been a priority for some TV station groups to obtain more robust tools.
Q: Rule of thumb – is it better to comment when viewers complain about coverage or leave those complaints unanswered?
A: It depends on the type of comment. There are some comments so vile or unproductive that it’s a waste of time to respond. Other times, a well-crafted response can win over the negative commenter or at least give them a better understanding of why, for example, a story was written a certain way or what methods were used to track down the facts of a story.
Q: Is TV exploring Instagram and Snapchat more – or leaving those platforms parked on the side for now?
A: There are certainly experiments happening on those platforms. For now, Facebook remains the biggest platform because of audience patterns, but Raycom stations such as Hawaii News Now are gaining traction with emerging social platforms. In some cases, those experiments are being prioritized over Twitter.
Q: What major changes do you see coming down the road within a year or two?
A: OTT (over-the-top) channels will become increasingly important. With devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV becoming so prevalent in homes, models are shifting from traditional broadcast television to a multitude of distribution channels. That trend will continue to accelerate and deepen as the technology becomes more robust. Outside of that, digital content distribution will continue to become more mobile-centric. Mobile consumption of digital news is now 70% + at many of our stations, and that keeps growing.
Q: How do you counter the label of #fakenews or #altfacts now trickling down from the president’s office to local elected officials?
A: On the local level, we rely on the relationships we’ve built both with our audiences and with elected officials to circumvent these kinds of claims. We’re not immune to these pronouncements, but the local media has enjoyed a higher level of trust than some national media. At Raycom Media, we pride ourselves on being as open as we can about our newsgathering methods. Trust is earned, and we think this goes a long way toward maintaining that trust.
Q: What is the best route for the target of a negative news story to reply – and how?
A: The first contact should be by phone and/or email to the author of the story with a detailed explanation. Beyond that, the assistant news director or news director of the TV station can route the request to the appropriate place and/or address directly.