Now, KABC’s VP/News Director Cheryl Fair is the first to admit that sheer reach isn’t everything: “It’s more than the total ‘Like’ number, it’s the high level of engagement,” she said. And sure, the station is in the nation’s second-largest market, but market size hasn’t been a big driver of social success to date. So how did KABC do it? We asked Fair a few questions:
Lost Remote: What’s the secret? How did you attain this level of social reach?
Cheryl Fair: As a news organization, we see social media as a way for our viewers to talk to us, and not just as a way for us to talk to them. Listening is important. Since starting our Twitter feed in 2008, we have made it a commitment to reply to comments and questions as often as we can. People will frequently Tweet us to let us know about what’s happening near them and to ask us for details. That carried over to our relationship with our viewers on our Facebook page. To accelerate our reach, we did a combination of community service campaigns and traditional sweepstakes, in addition to paying close attention to the news stories we post. We initially had concerns that running sweepstakes would lead to people with no real interest in ABC7 to “Like” us just to win something. However, we are pleased to see how much of a real community we have attracted on Facebook. We view our sweepstakes prizes as a thank you to our viewers for their loyalty, and they seem to see it that way too. And when people come to the station to pick up their prizes, they are usually just as excited about seeing the newsroom as winning their prizes. We have a lot of fun meeting them and showing them around.
LR: Were there any big events that fueled a big uptick in fans, followers and engagement?
Fair: We have such a great time engaging with our Facebook fans. We had huge engagement and added a lot of “Likes” for a Facebook campaign to raise money for our Spark of Love Toy Drive in December, offered our viewers a chance to “Pay It Forward” to someone they knew who deserved some help, and promoted ABC Digital’s excellent Oscars app with an iPad 2 giveaway leading up to the Academy Awards. For Oscar Sunday we really wanted to find something unique and special. We gave away a Mercedes-Benz in a random drawing, and that obviously generated a great deal of excitement. The most rewarding part of this, however, were how many people have stayed with us since the giveaway and continue to engage with the station. That giveaway may have been a good reason to “Like” the page, but it was the daily conversation that kept them around once the sweepstakes was over.