Only the smallest stations in the smallest markets are completely ignoring social media, finds a new RTNDA-Hofstra survey that looked at how TV stations use social media. Over 92% of TV stations large and small are participating on Facebook and/or Twitter (more Facebook than Twitter, as we explain below). But more important, the study found stations are embracing social media on a new level.
“There appears to have been a shift in the last year from using social media primarily as a promotional tool to using it heavily — if not primarily — to have conversations with the audience,” explains Bob Papper, who oversaw the research. “Most news directors noted seeking comments, feedback or interaction. Some talked about livechat and crowdsourcing, but most of the comments dealt with conversations.”
That’s a big (and welcome) shift for local TV. The shift from self-promotion to engagement is happening much faster on the social media front than the slow transition to publishing news on the web over a decade ago. In fact, it just feels different than the battles of old, when newsrooms refused to scoop themselves online.
That said, most TV stations still have a long ways to go. I still see way too many tweets and Facebook status updates that promote a broadcast. And as the study found, there are still lots of stations not using Twitter: 35.8% of TV stations use Twitter constantly, 31.9% daily, 20.3% periodically and 11.9% not at all. In other words, 32.2% of TV stations aren’t using Twitter very often. And counter-intuitively, stations in the largest 10 markets use Twitter the least — 16.1% don’t use it at all.
To me, that’s a bit stunning, simply because of Twitter’s value as a newsgathering tool. (The question asked, “Is the newsroom actively involved with Twitter?”, which would include newsgathering, too.) Say what you may about Twitter’s traffic-driving potential (remember it drives more traffic than your referrals say it does), but there’s no doubt — especially in the top 10 markets — about the power of Twitter as a news discovery device.
Another interesting stat to come out of the study is how TV stations use Facebook pages: 24.9% of TV stations have a Facebook page for the station only, 32% have a Facebook page for the newsroom only, 37.4% have a Facebook page for both and 5.7% have neither. This is a function of how stations have branded themselves overall vs. their news efforts, who’s responsible/available for social media, and how the pages were set up to begin with.
Fascinating stuff. Here’s a link (.pdf) to the study results. What do you think? Any other surprises? Chime in on our (Facebook) comments below…