Local to National, TV Content is Popular on Facebook — Broadcasters’ Pages Try to Catch Up

Television broadcasters of all sorts are reporting that Facebook is helping to drive traffic, and third-party measurement firms like Nielsen and Hitwise are saying the same thing. However, this is people watching live-streams on the site, and sharing video clips, articles and other content on the site. Pages have been dwarfed in importance — the opposite problem that most companies on Facebook. Hitwise recently noted that despite Facebook’s importance to broadcasters, there is currently no correlation between downstream traffic from Facebook and the number of fans they have on Pages.

And yet, Pages are themselves can be a great way for any media company to improve content distribution. The act of publishing a breaking story to a Page, for example, helps ensure that users will see it in their news feeds whether or not users share with each other. The lack of correlation here likely means an opportunity for broadcasters to improve. If a broadcaster doesn’t organize their Page strategy in a way that meets the interests of their core viewers, they hurt the quantity and quality of engagement on the page, and the virality of their stories on Facebook.

Here are our observations about tactics a variety of broadcasters are employing on their pages, from local television stations to international cable channels.

While the Pages we reviewed all belong to networks whose primary product is broadcasting an organized news and information product, few of them actually provided much of this on Facebook Pages. These networks by and large used the Page Video tab to include dozens of videos, but in no particular order and with no captions — which stands in stark contrast to their web sites, where this content is organized chronologically by program.

One notable exception was the local Los Angeles network KTLA, with 6,200 fans. It included a Live tab with a Ustream video box that streams the network’s shows. Viewing the content with the box is a similar experience to watching a television program on a network web site. It’s a good example of how to keep fans on your Facebook Page engaged with your content instead of forcing them somewhere else.

Photos of the shows for both television and cable networks are also prevalent, as are fan photo uploads. Notes, polls and tabs for Twitter and other social media are used sparingly while status updates and posts to the Wall are the most popular way for networks to post information and interact with fans.

Another pattern we noticed was that both the television and cable networks don’t rely on one big Page to gather fans, but rather break their fan base down into smaller niches. For example, although CNN’s Page has over 814,000 fans, the network doesn’t just have one Page, but a slew of them, including: CNN International with 45,800 fans, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien with over 10,000 fans, CNN Chile with 50,500 fans, CNN Turk with 6,200 and CNN en Español with 99,000, to name a few. These Pages all share content from CNN web sites and a disclaimer on them says that CNN can use all content from fans, probably in a feedback segment.

Aside from nuanced differences in content, most of CNN’s Pages are structurally similar to each other: they share links from CNN’s web sites that often have hundreds of likes/comments, there’s a Twitter tab and other special tabs, there’s videos on the video tab, other CNN Page suggestions and notes about upcoming CNN content. It almost seems like the idea of differentiated communities on Facebook is more important than the reality of them.

Nickelodeon, a network primarily for children, has a similar plan to CNN. There’s a Nickelodeon Latinoamérica Page with 10,300 fans emphasizing content in Spanish, but also other content from the network while the Nickelodeon ParentsConnect Page with 6,400 fans is aimed at parents of its viewership. This Page includes mostly tips for parents that aims to make them fans of the Nickelodeon without necessarily requiring them to be fans of the network’s content.