Recently, we took a look at a recent Pew study focused on social media trends that confirmed Facebook as the fastest-growing of the three major social networks tracked by Share Rocket. Pew’s data on the broader marketplace aligns with Share Rocket’s data that Facebook is clearly the best way a newsroom can reach its core audience via social. The study, which is conducted each spring, told us that Facebook grew 7% between the 2015 and 2016 surveys.
While that is a nice bit of growth for America’s biggest social network, we thought that number sounded awfully small compared to the growth we’ve seen on our customers’ social pages over that same time period. So, we ran the numbers.
We took a look at the total audience on Facebook for the TV stations across the top 10 markets in the country on April 4, 2015, which is during the time period in which the Pew study was conducted. Then, we did the same for one year later, April 4, 2016, to determine how much those stations had grown on those platforms.
Turns out, we were right – local TV stations’ Facebook pages are growing at a much faster pace than the platform as a whole. How much faster, exactly? Try 47.6% average year-over-year growth on Facebook. Philadelphia was the only top 10 market that didn’t grow by 39% or more, year over year.
While many stations in major markets have broken the 1 million follower mark on Facebook, based on that annual growth, a plateau isn’t coming anytime soon. That means there’s a lot of opportunity for stations that are underperforming on social to get competitive in the social space and carve out their share of the market.
For example, the Chicago market was one of the top markets for growth in social, with a 59% increase in total Facebook audience year over year. In the market, WGN had tremendous growth overall, but of particular note was the station’s main Facebook page. Over the year between the Pew studies, WGN’s main page grew from an audience of 298,758 on April 4, 2015, to 484,270 one year later, a 62% increase.
While that jump helped WGN close the large gulf between its main station page and the main pages of the top three stations in the market on Facebook, it still hasn’t slowed in the months since. Continued growth through the Cubs’ epic World Series run and the presidential election propelled the station to 97.6% audience growth since Jan. 1, 2016.
And it’s not just station pages seeing this level of growth. Individual anchors, reporters, and meteorologists can also benefit if they put invest more time and effort on Facebook. At WGN, weathercaster Paul Konrad grew his individual Facebook page by 43% in 2016, from 54,480 likes to 77,666.
With pages still growing by nearly 50% year over year, there are still a lot of likes to be had and new fans to be made. If you commit to keeping Facebook at the top of your mind when it comes to your station’s social strategy, you may find they flock to you.
Couple that with Facebook’s ever-increasing options to monetize this fast-growing audience, it makes even more sense to focus on audience growth in 2017.