Social Scorecard this week comes from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about 100 miles east of Des Moines, where Gray’s KCRG is on top of social media. The key to its success on Facebook is reliable information, just like on television. “We are your trusted source regardless of the platform,” says Adam Carros, KCRG’s news director. “I think that’s really the value at the end of the day.”
KCRG, Gray’s ABC affiliate, leads in social media actions in the market over the last six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.
KCRG has more than 1.1 million total actions on social media, accounting for almost 36% of the total engagement generated by the DMA (No. 91), with more than 3.1 million social actions.
KCRG also led on actions per post with 77.
The Des Moines Register, a daily newspaper owned by Gannett, led on both Twitter with more than 80,000 actions and Instagram with more than 10,000 actions.
Adam Carros, KCRG’s news director, says that in the past year, the quality of the station’s content has improved, which has driven discussions, reactions and engagement.
And the content bucket that contributes the most to the station’s success on Facebook is breaking news and weather.
“That can be through Facebook Live, through a unique video, through a still image. Links are very valuable just because that is probably the biggest thing that directly drives back to our website, where we can monetize that digital traffic,” Carros says.
The Mollie Tibbetts murder story is a case in point.
“We had to put a lot of our content up on Facebook first and on Facebook Live because that’s such a big story that people are interested in. Our audience just got really engaged with that. They wanted more content and more information.”
This past weekend, even a Facebook post about another member of Mollie Tibbetts’ family got high engagement, according to Carros.
In addition to breaking news, severe weather is also a driver to high engagement on Facebook, says Carros. Whenever there’s a tornado warning, the station goes wall to wall on Facebook Live.
“It makes perfect sense because how many people, when there is a tornado warning, go to their basement where [if] power gets knocked out and they don’t have a TV. Now you can at least pull up your phone and get the same information and stay safe.”
Carros says during one recent tornado, a Facebook follower wrote a question in the comment section. “I am in my basement. Is it okay to come out now?”
KCRG encourages its reporters to hop on Facebook Live often from the scene of spot news because it’s a first-person report and even if the video quality is not ideal, it adds intrigue.
“Social media is credited with showing us that people really don’t necessarily value quality footage all that much,” says Carros, “especially in breaking news situations. They want the information and the video in any shape or form. If it’s raw, it can add that element of ‘it’s happening now’. So it’s definitely changed the TV news landscape because viewers have shown us that they are okay with mediocre video if it helps tell the story.”
Here’s an example of Facebook Live that Carros came across on his way home from work.
Carros looks for unique stories that work well in the newscast and then giving them the ‘Facebook treatment’ to make them stand out.
“We did a video about two months ago [below]. We basically got that sound package with some text on it for the Facebook platform and that just blew up and a big reason for that is the uniqueness of it.”
The most important value that Facebook brings to the station, says Carros, is recruitment.
“People associate your brand with reliable and trustworthy information. They are turning to you because they see you and trust you across all these platforms and they develop that relationship with you and with your people. We are your trusted source regardless of the platform. I think that’s really the value at the end of the day.”