Social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide. It’s big and only getting bigger each day as a place where consumers engage, share, interact, shop and consume news and information. Despite all the efforts put behind building and creating social channels, few have been able to generate significant revenue, but the payoff is coming as businesses engage fans and convert customers.
A study from comScore estimated social networking activity has tripled in the last few years and accounts for one out of every five minutes spent online. Despite this phenomenal growth, the potential to monetize this audience remains a relatively untapped opportunity. The social universe and data are becoming more intelligent as TV, mobile, and social platforms begin to converge and overlap.
KHOU, Belo’s CBS affiliate in Houston, is developing a social strategy to align with its business goals. We recognize these efforts begin with a commitment of resources to build and maintain a consistent social media presence. We also recognize the local business community is looking to us for assistance to help grow their businesses. Today, social media consultation and support is one of the most frequent requests we receive from local clients as everyone is trying to navigate this space.
The keys to building KHOU’s social media outreach include attracting new audience members, engaging them in meaningful ways and retaining them. Retention is the most important.
KHOU is curating content on Facebook and Twitter and is currently developing a presence on Pinterest, Google+ and other social platforms. With so many emerging social media platforms, we are trying to cut through the noise and determine which ones make the most sense for us and our advertisers.
Businesses don’t necessarily need a social media profile on every social media platform. They need us to help determine what combination best delivers the audience they are trying to reach.
“I’m excited to see how Belo’s digital sites are embracing the evolving social media marketplace and helping local clients navigate through this space,” says Joe Weir,VP/digital for Belo Corp.”We continue to experiment with different solutions that generate high success for clients. Our stations are strategically focused on organic growth to ensure they are increasing their fan bases and the ‘people talking’ engagement metric.”
KHOU is tracking the metrics of fans who engage with us by liking, commenting or sharing posts and answering questions. When you have a lot of users talking and sharing your content, chances are you are giving them compelling content and motivating them to interact.
One way KHOU drives this interaction is by posting a random question such as, “Where is the best place in Houston to get a big, juicy cheeseburger?” Questions such as this generate hundreds of responses from our fans in a relatively short time and get people talking.
For local media, the bigger its social media presence, the more it allows you to tap into sponsorship opportunities across multiple platforms to augment a client’s message. Facebook allows businesses to learn about their target audiences and understand their interests and friends. Businesses can also enlist their Facebook community to help crowd-source a new product or idea. The strength of local broadcast television combined with this platform is a very powerful combination.
At KHOU and other Belo websites, we now offer social media as part of an integrated approach to advertising. As an example, a recent entertainment client in Houston combined a television spot schedule, a behaviorally targeted email campaign, rich media display, mobile display, and a Facebook sweepstakes app we produced to help grow likes on their Facebook page. Integration that delivers advertising based on platforms is driving successful results for our clients.
In order to be effective, we continually build our online presence. KHOU is focused on adding more fans to our thriving Facebook community and we constantly deliver relevant content that entertains, informs our readers and creates daily buzz.
Last September, KHOU optimized social media with our coverage of the Texas wildfires. We used our channels to provide breaking news updates in parallel with TV and Web coverage, solicited information from our readers and pushed users across our other platforms.
Tens of thousands of readers visited our Facebook page for breaking news coverage and users helped each other during the crisis. Severe weather events offer a rich opportunity for stations to interact, engage with audiences and move them between platforms including TV, mobile and the Web.
At KGW, Belo’s NBC affiliate in Portland, Ore., Director of Digital Media Frank Mungeam says basic elements in his social media strategy include increasing engagement with customers, driving traffic back to the stations’ websites, TV and mobile screens and delivering value for clients via social reach.
“At the entry level, we deliver value for advertisers in social media by fully integrating them in the social marketing of station campaigns,” he says. “For example, KGW sponsors a Christmas toy drive and has a fully-detailed social marketing calendar, including daily Twitter and Facebook posts to drive fans to client locations to make donations or click on one of the calls to action.”
“KGW also developed a social sweepstakes client package where the station joins with a client in a Facebook-based giveaway sweepstakes. We recognize that for many businesses, growing its fan base is essential to being able to effectively market their business on Facebook. One partner, a local appliance store, grew from about 700 fans to more than 3,000 fans as a result of the sweepstakes, which required liking both KGW and the client’s Facebook page.
“Another component of our social business strategy is to help share our social marketing skills with our valued clients. KGW developed a program to coach local station clients on how to use social media to grow their businesses.”
Both KHOU and KGW are developing social media coaching for clients based on client demand. The goals are to deliver a solution and show clients how to optimize their fan base and supercharge their marketing efforts by converting social media into profits. It is also important to understand the context of the platform used to build business relationships.
Social media is the ideal place for businesses to build brand awareness and differentiate themselves over their competitors. New customers can discover a brand through referrals from their trusted friends and these businesses can interact and reward their new connections who may one day become loyal customers.
Christine DiStadio is director of digital media at Belo Corp.’s KHOU Houston. You can read other Sales Office columns here.