Gray’s NBC affiliate has made a conscious effort to drive its Facebook users back to its TV newscasts. The station was No. 2 in the news ratings and now it’s in first place, and attributes that turnaround to Facebook. “Facebook is fishing where the fish are,” says KVLY’s news director.
Interestingly, the station is able to lead on Facebook engagements with far fewer content posts than most other media outlets there.
KVLY, a Gray NBC affiliate, leads in social media actions in the market over the last six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.
KVLY has almost 900,000 total actions on social media, accounting for 46% of the total engagement generated by the DMA (No. 113), with more than 1.9 million social actions.
KVLY led the market on Instagram with more than 5,000 posts and also led in actions per post with 110 on only 8,000 content posts.
InForum, a daily newspaper owned by Forum Communications, led on Twitter with more than 15,000 actions.
Ike Walker, KVLY’s news director, says one topic that drives high engagement among the station’s Facebook users and, ultimately among television broadcast news viewers, is crime.
“When we have someone go missing in the area because of a crime, or perhaps they just go missing on their own, there’s always a lot of attention that’s paid to those kinds of stories.”
Like the gruesome story of a couple who murdered a pregnant woman, Savanna Greywind, and stole her baby.
A KVLY Facebook post that followed the funeral procession of Greywind drew almost 250,000 views.
Walker says this particular crime story, which generated high engagement on social, drove traffic back to television.
“We can see at least some sort of correlation where they have engaged quite a bit online and then we’ll see an uptick at 6 and 10 o’clock for that particular day.”
Walker says that’s a conscious move by the station. They want to drive people back to the broadcast, the website or the station’s apps. Facebook is fishing where the fish are, says Walker.
“We already have a large captive audience. Let’s utilize that as a way to drive our brand, and hopefully when they sit down at five, six, ten o’clock, they’ll be thinking, well, I saw this on Facebook earlier. I wonder if they’ve got a bigger story. Click, click, and they’ll switch over. And ultimately, based on everything that we’ve seen, it’s worked. We were number two, now we’re number one, and we think that Facebook strategy has been part of that.”
Topics that are polarizing also tend to get high engagement for KVLY’s users.
What’s polarizing in Fargo? A recent visit by President Trump to Fargo, carried as a KVLY Facebook Live Webstream, garnered 85,000 shares, and more than 4,000 comments.
Facebook Lives reports, especially when it involves severe weather, also get high engagement.
“Every time we have a severe weather event, and in Fargo we can have a foot of snow and 40 below, or it can be 90 degrees and we’ll have tornados. So those always get quite a bit of engagement.”
And sometimes, although not a breaking news event, it can just be a bear-on-the loose story.
“The local wildlife officials and city folks were trying to figure out. What do we do with this bear? It was running from park to park. Our reporter was there most of the day and ultimately did a couple of Facebook lives to update people through the day. We know you’re at work. You may have heard about this.”
Walker says if the content is good and interesting, people will engage with it, and that accounts for KVLY’s success.
“We’ve got four times the amount of engagement from our nearest competitor with roughly forty fewer stories in the week. It just points back to content.”