This article first appeared on Advancing the Story and is republished here with permission.
Social media can be a bother, just one more thing to fit into an already overloaded day. If it feels that way to you, you’re doing it wrong.
Boyd Huppert, who’s been in TV news more than 30 years, calls himself a “true believer” in social media. He’s obsessed with tracking the engagement data on his Facebook posts via Chartbeat.
“It’s the first thing I check in the morning, how am I doing?” he says. He’s often at the top of the list for his station. “It means my stories are connecting with people.”
I like it when people like a post, it’s a handshake. A comment is like a hug. A share is a full on kiss on the lips. That’s what I crave.
For Huppert, being active on social is an investment in his career, a way of proving his value to his employer, KARE-TV in Minneapolis. And he’s seen some evidence that doing a good job of sharing stories on Facebook before they air can help to keep the TV audience tuned in over the quarter hour, the holy grail for producers. (If a viewer watches at least five minutes of every quarter hour, the station can count that viewer in its ratings.)
- Go small. Do multiple posts on the same story. Post before the story airs, then add a link to the story to your original post after the story is posted online. Do a fresh post the next day to capture a new audience.
- Tell a story. Include a strong image and a quote. People will not share your teases, Huppert says. “It’s hard to give away so much of what’s going to be in the [TV] story ahead of time,” Huppert says, “but I need to do that if I expect you to share.
- Update. “People get involved with the characters in our stories and invested in the stories,” Huppert says. “I find there’s great interest in knowing more. Whenever anyone in one of my stories dies, I post an update.” These updates may never get on the air, but they give Huppert a chance to drive more traffic to the original story. (Huppert uses the FrameUrLife app on his iPhone to create photo collages for his posts.)
- Use video. Working with photographer Chad Nelson, Huppert produces short promos specifically for Facebook with nat sound and text but no narration. Nelson is constantly experimenting with font sizes and color to see what works best.
- Say more. Once a story has aired, Huppert and Nelson often do a Facebook live to share the story behind the story and take questions from viewers.
A story Huppert did about two boys who’ve been friends since second grade is a good example of these tips in action. Here’s the Facebook video promo. Here’s the Facebook live and here’s the page on the station’s website with the TV story at the top and the Facebook live video embedded at the end.
The story itself became a Facebook phenomenon. According to Huppert, his station made a deal with Facebook to monetize the story. They posted the entire video, not just a link, on the station’s Facebook page a week after the story aired and Facebook put a :15 second ad in the middle, giving KARE a small share of the revenue.
Huppert hated the idea of interrupting his story with an ad but the results were astonishing. Ten days after the story was posted on Facebook, it had 209,000 likes, 6,500 comments, 159,000 shares, and 10 million views. Ten million.
“We’ve earned thousands of dollars off the commercial that runs in the middle of one story,” Huppert told the Texas Association of Broadcasters conference in Houston. That’s a big deal for the station, but not the biggest deal for Huppert.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “The story’s life was over, and now it has a second life.”
All thanks to social media.