That means the TV station has the potential to reach 21 times as many people on Facebook anytime it posts news or information. And has 21 times the potential to draw readers to its website or convince them to watch its newscast.
It shouldn’t be this way. A check of compete.com shows that cleveland.com reaches 1,443,538 monthly unique visitors compared to fox8.com’s 480,594. Yet Fox 8 has tipped the social media landscape in its favor.
This is not unique to Cleveland. Here in Des Moines, the Des Moines Register Facebook page has 10,766 fans (the 16th most of any newspaper on Facebook). Meanwhile, TV station KCCI has 38,454 fans and TV station WHODT has 11,442.
Why does this happen?
- TV stations are more likely to include a Facebook like box on their home page. For some reason, newspapers mostly ignore these, even though they prove to be a successful way to add Facebook fans.
- TV stations are the kings of promotion. You’ll rarely watch an episode of any show on any local network without hearing some sort of promotion for the upcoming newscast. A TV station can promote becoming a fan of their Facebook page during an episode of The Office. Newspapers can’t compete with that.
- In the case of Fox 8, they pick a Facebook fan of the day and show that person’s photo on TV. Nothing complicated there, but it appears to be working. And they have even sold an ad to go along with it. So they are making money while they grow their reach.
- Fox 8 also posts very frequently to Facebook. So far this morning, they have posted 24 updates to Facebook. Cleveland.com has posted two.
- WHODT’s morning show (which I watch every morning) mentions conversation happening on its Facebook page throughout the newscast – keeping its page top of mind while people are tuning in for their morning weather and news.
- I’ve also noticed that TV stations seem to run more contests on Facebook. Contests are a good way to grow fans.
It’s clear that newspapers are losing this battle. It’s time for newspapers across the country to step up their efforts to grow Facebook fans.
My suggestion is to find a way to reward people for being a fan of your page on Facebook. Ask readers to submit photos to your fan page and consistently run those photos in print. Ask for reaction to a story and then run some of those reactions in print. Run a box with a popular story telling readers that they can discuss the story at your Facebook fan page (and avoid the trolls commenting on your news site).
Facebook is big and getting bigger. It’s a missed opportunity not to take full advantage.
Any other suggestions on how newspapers can grow their Facebook fans?