Top Tips from TVNewsCheck Social Media Excellence Award Winners

Tuning up your social strategy is a great way to kick off 2019. And the best way to start is by learning from those who nailed it in 2018. Last month, TVNewsCheck

Tuning up your social strategy is a great way to kick off 2019. And the best way to start is by learning from those who nailed it in 2018. Last month, TVNewsCheck presented the inaugural “Social Media Excellence Awards” for both talent and TV Stations at their annual NewsTECHForum in New York City. As the presenting data partners for the awards, we pulled all the data that helped determine the top performers and got a look at some fantastic social media work.

The winners of the Station-level awards were WTVT (Fox O&O, Tampa, FL – Large Market) and KCCI (Hearst, Des Moines, IA – Small-Medium Market). For talent, Kristen Hampton (Raycom Media, Charlotte, N.C.) took home top honors for talent, and Josh Johnson (WSFA, Raycom, Montgomery, AL) took home the “Innovator Award,” which honors the most remarkable achievement on the platform by an individual, news brand or station group.

L to R: Kim Wilson (CEO, Social News Desk); Josh Johnson (Meteorologist, WSFA-TV); Kristen Hampton (Talent, Raycom Media); Chris Boex (Sr. Web Producer, WTVT); Christie O’Sullivan (Digital Producer, WTVT); Hope Wilson (Social Media Producer, KCCI)

These winners, after receiving their awards, took part in a panel discussion moderated by Social News Desk CEO, Kim Wilson. During the panel all of the nominees discussed several topics ranging from strategy to dealing with negative comments. One of the questions was about key performance indicators (KPIs) for them. This is one of many things that is hotly debated, but as you’ll see from the various answers, how you determine success may be different. I think a combination of these answers, along with your typical insights is a great way to look constructively at your social performance, no matter what type of page you manage.

With that said, let’s look at the different answers given.

Josh Johnson (WSFA-TV, Raycom Media, Montgomery, AL – Innovator Award Winner)

Josh sees success in “real, authentic and genuine conversation.” He added, “There are a lot of metrics you can look at, but it is sort of a feeling. It goes beyond the metrics.”

How incredibly true. The “metrics” are often what managers use to determine success. They may never actually visit a page, or join a conversation, Live FB Video, look at your comments, etc. They just see “how many” people did certain things. This isn’t always an indicator of how well you’re doing. Maybe you have 5,000 people engaged in a month, but how many are sticking around, and joining your FB Live videos regularly? Have you developed loyalty? Numbers can’t really indicate that.

Kristen Hampton (Raycom Media, Charlotte, N.C. – Talent Social Media Excellence Award Winner)

Kristen had a similar response: “The coolest part of all of this, I get a lot of email from people who say in some of the most horrific situations you can imagine, that my videos made them smile. That is personally how I measure success.”

I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my career that I’ve heard similar statements from reporters and anchors. How their emotional coverage of an event helped them cope. It was like they had a friend who was telling them everything that was happening, and that it was all going to be OK.


In Kristen’s case, many of her FB Live videos are filled with humor. Definitely something that many gravitate toward, especially when dealing with difficulties of life. You can read more about Kristen’s success here.

WTVT-TV (Fox O&O, Tampa, FL – Large Market Social Excellence Award Winner)

Chris Boex, Sr. Web Producer for WTVT said, “I look for shares because that, for me, says that we not only put something out there that was important to an individual, but something important enough for them to share with their Facebook community.”

Shares are a great measure of success for the reason Boex detailed. For someone to take a step beyond just “liking” a post and putting it in front of their friends and family is a big move. That’s an important indicator for Facebook to show the value of the post in News Feed. It feels good as a Social Media Manager to put something up — not even trying for shares in your post text — and turn around an hour or two later and see 100+ shares. You know the audience really is interested in that story.

Christie O’Sullivan, Social Lead with WTVT as well, built on what Chris said and added a similar theme we’ve heard thus far, “Making people feel things. When you do that in the ‘in between time’ you are able to do it in breaking news situations, when it really matters.”

A great point that touches on consistency. Being able to add an emotional engagement side to a post, whether a happy-go-lucky post or breaking news, is a major advantage when it comes to social media excellence. You need to put yourself in a mindset of connecting with your audience whether you’re on-air on digital. In the growing digital-first world of media, this is of utmost importance.

SND Analytics Top 10 Posts Widget inside the SND Dashboard.
KCCI-TV (Hearst, Des Moines, IA – Small-Medium Market Social Excellence Award Winner)

Hope Wilson, Social Media Producer for KCCI responded, “Our biggest tell, not only the hard numbers, but looking at our posts compared to our competitors posts on the same stories.”

Another wonderful insight. In fact, this is so important, we actually built a widget inside the SND Dashboard to monitor this. You can monitor the top-10 posts in your market and see how you compare with your competitors. Often times, if the story is local, and all your competitors have the content, you can really nail down what resonates with your local audience.


Overall, keep an eye on your insights. Those will tell you a bunch of helpful information. You should also look beyond your numbers. How is your audience engaging with you? Is it “meaningful”? Facebook calls their triggers “Meaningful Social Interactions.” Focus on the meaningful, and you’ll see improvement.

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