Why Stations are Scrambling For Facebook Fans


Putting together the new article on stations and their efforts to be-Friend their local markets on Facebook reminded me of the story I did a few years back on the most prolific station-level Twitter-ers out there. As I’d hoped that time around, the story elicited loads of responses–people telling me I’d overlooked so and so and their 20,000 Twitter followers.

Something similar may happen with the stations and Facebook story, though the stations are a little easier to pin down.

NBC’s WVIT Hartford has had big success growing its Facebook fan base, and turning that into ratings growth. 

One challenge was using a consistent metric for stations’ Facebook Friends. There are those who Like the station, and those who Like talent, the morning show, and other station properties. Some stations add them all up and tout the aggregated number, such as KUTV Salt Lake City’s 391,000. (KUTV got on my radar screen the week before, when I profiled its former general manager, Steve Carlston, and he spoke about using Facebook to turn KUTV around in Salt Lake. Coincidentally, the station it overtook, KSL, has a similarly outsize presence with its station site, KSL.com.)

The article reads:

WJW, in DMA No. 18, is a monster with more than 310,000 fans. KUTV Salt Lake City’s main Facebook page has 177,000, but when adding in fans of talent and individual programs, the total tops 391,000-or, one for every 2.4 TV households in DMA No. 33. Smaller market outliers include KATC Lafayette (La., DMA No. 124) with close to 49,000 fans and WLEX Lexington (Ky., DMA No. 64), at nearly 77,000.

For some perspective, among some larger market stations, KDFW Dallas has a combined 224,774 followers, while WAGA Atlanta is at 133,000–the top two among the Fox owned stations.

Stations are increasingly using Facebook to gather story tips and sources, distribute news, and gauge public opinion on issues in the community. Frank N. Magid Associates called Facebook “a key source of local news and information” in a recent study, which said 64% of correspondents used station news on TV as a regular source for local news and information, ahead of local over the air radio (45%), and then Facebook at 41%–just ahead of newspapers.

“I think any time you give the audience input on stories, they feel like they’re connected more to the product,” KUTV GM Kent Crawford told me in the new issue. “Then they’re more interested and watch more.”