The magic number for stations posting on Facebook ranges between 5 and 12 daily posts, according to a social media survey from Frank N. Magid Associates and the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. Fewer than that, and the station is not successfully connecting with users on the pivotal social media platform. Too much more than that, and they're just being a bad Friend.
"Don't bombard them and don't bore them," says Laura Clark, Magid senior VP and the study's co-author. "If you value the friendship, then you're in a dialogue with them."
Magid and Columbia looked at 259 "local media pages" in 53 markets -- primarily TV stations, along with newspapers. The Social Media Project survey shows huge opportunity for stations in terms of their strength, weather, in social media. The study also showed that mid-sized markets have a greater share of the available audience on social media than their large and small counterparts. Markets 76-100 averaged the most significant social reach (25-30%), while markets 1-10 showed the lowest (10-15%).
Stations with the highest share of available audience include WTHI Terre Haute, KUTV Salt Lake City and KRCG Columbia (Mo.). A different metric, "Facebook Power Ratio,",was led by KIRO Seattle, KKCO Grand Junction and WPRI Providence.
Best social media practices among the stations in the survey include frequently sharing hard news and weather, and asking users questions to stoke interactivity. Worst practices included downplaying weather news, posting too infrequently or frequently and sharing feature content.
"While social media may be a more personable platform, fluffy feature content isn't going to make local media brand relevant," says the survey's outline.
The survey also found that stations are not breaking nearly enough news on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. "Most local media pages are only using Twitter at the end of the story cycle," said the survey, "not during it."
Half of the local media pages studied did not offer any weather related tweets during the two days of the survey.
The newspapers surveyed dominate Twitter, say the authors, while stations are stronger on Facebook. "Only 30% of the local media outlets we examined had more Twitter followers than Facebook fans," said the survey. "Newspapers accounted for half of that."
Some 41% of stations, noted the survey, fell in that 5-12 post sweet spot.