WTVT Captures Local Character On Social

Fox’s WTVT Tampa won first place in the large market category in TVNewsCheck’s inaugural Social Media Excellence Awards. Its news director reveals how the station uses the natural beauty and character of the area to heighten user engagement.

WTVT, the Fox O&O in Tampa, Fla. (DMA 11), will receive the inaugural Social Media Excellence Award for large market at TVNewsCheck’s NewsTECHForum.

Judges singled out the station for its exceptional range of original video and graphic content for Facebook, which vividly conveyed the unique local character.

WTVT and fellow honorees will be presented with their awards on Dec. 10 at the New York Hilton, where they will also take part in a panel discussion about their social media strategies with Kim Wilson, president and founder of Social News Desk, the presenting data partner for the awards.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges from an initial pool of nominees culled from Social News Desk’s live database of 12,000 local news Facebook Pages. Social News Desk calculated 15 million posts by those pages and identified those with the highest engagement per post as nominees in the awards’ four categories.

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TVNewsCheck spoke with John Hoffman, WTVT’s news director, about the strong social content like the station’s We Live Here series and why users are drawn to it.

An edited transcription.


A lot of your Facebook content is bespoke for your local audience rather than piggybacking on national viral videos and memes. Why that approach?

The funny thing about our local audience is, because it’s Florida, either your grandmother lives here or your uncle and sister moved down here. A lot of people have a connection to Florida and they keep up with us and our news on Facebook. Our social team will be in there, virtually every minute of every day, engaging with the audience, and I think that’s what makes us unique, too.

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The We Live Here series stands out among that original social content. What’s your criteria for stories there?

People in Florida are very proud of the natural surroundings whether it be the Gulf of Mexico, the natural springs or the palm trees. A lot of people moved here from other places and that is why they come here, because it’s beautiful. I would say that among the criteria are natural beauty and in general, it’s just quality of life.

What content areas spark the highest engagement for your audience?

We do very well with stories that are a call to action — finding a missing child, tracking down a criminal. They respond to a call to arms. Also, it’s a great place for people to react and be a part of big local news stories.

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Meteorologist Paul Dellegatto is particularly strong on social. What is he doing that’s resonating so strongly?

It starts with weather because weather is hugely important to everybody in Florida. It’s not just hurricanes, but just everyday weather that can determine people’s behavior, how they dress, when they drive. And so his number one connector to audiences is his ability to make weather interesting. He’s got a great sense of humor, and the other thing that Paul does is he will respond to almost every comment that is made about a post.

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