NetNewsCheck Social Scorecard

WHNT Leads Hunstville, Ala. Social Media

Tribune’s WHNT holds the top spot in Huntsville, Ala. in terms of social media performance according to Shareablee data. Paul Greeley looks at how an expansive interpretation of local, strong personalities and solid corporate support have helped drive its Facebook strategy. 
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WHNT, Tribune’s CBS affiliate serving the Huntsville, Ala. market leads in social media actions in the past six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.

WHNT posted almost 1.7 million total social actions in that period, accounting for 43% of the total engagement generated by the DMA with more than 3.9 million social actions overall.

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WAFF, the NBC affiliate owned by Raycom, came in second in the same time period with just over 1.2 million actions, and it led in actions per post with 123.

WHVK-FM, a Christian music radio station owned by Educational Media Foundation, led the market on Twitter with just over 103,000 actions.

WLOS-FM, a hip hop radio station owned by Black Crow Music Group, topped the market on Instagram with almost 70,000 actions in the same time period.

Denise Vickers, WHNT’s VP of news, believes that being an early adopter to Facebook and digital in general is part of the reason for the station’s leading performance.

Brand Connections

“Another big part of it is we just have incredible personalities that are trusted and liked,” Vickers says.

One example is Jason Simpson, WHNT’s chief meteorologist, who according to Claire Aiello. WHNT’s interactive content manager, “just gets social media.”

“He’s been knocking it from day one,” Aiello says.

In fact, Simpson is among “the top 10 meteorologists in the country as far as social interaction goes,” according to Aiello.

Another reason for WHNT’s Facebook success, Vickers says, is its philosophy of providing content that “appeals to people’s sense of humanity, their compassion, their sympathy” regardless of whether the story is local or not.

“Local news is anything that local people find interesting,” Vickers says. “It’s not defined by geographic boundaries.”

But when there is local breaking news, WHNT turns to Facebook Live.

“When our reporters are in the field, we encourage them to hop on Facebook Live and let people get a glimpse of the action right away. People can interact and ask questions about a breaking situation,” Aiello says.

One recent success there was the demolition of an empty mall, which had more than 85,000 views. “The numbers just came in really fast and you could see the number of people watching this grow by the minute,” she says.

Parent company Tribune’s help is another reason for WHNT’s engagement success on Facebook.

“We get great, tremendous support from our friends at corporate,” Vickers says. “They help us stay ahead of the trends, providing research, regular conference call, video conference calls, sharing best practices, providing us resources and digital tools to keep us ahead of the curve.”

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Comments (1) -

James Simms posted 8 months ago
Jason Simpson is a protégée of James Spann from the Birmingham DMA just South of Huntsville. Having that lineage in a region of the country where past tornadoes & other severe weather (April 27, 2011; Katrina, Ivan, Frederic for instance) have wrecked havoc doesn't hurt @ all.

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