Share Rocket customers all aim to be at the top of their game on social media. That focus goes from the top down, from the managers creating strategies to the employees creating content. Why? Well for some, there’s good incentive for social excellence.

Sometimes, the reward for being first is a monetary, like annual bonus or gift card. Sometimes, it’s a perk, liking getting the first pick of donut in the morning meeting or the cleanest van for their assignment that day. Sometimes, the only reward is pride and knowing you dominated that day.

At one TV station in Salt Lake City, however, the reward is a rocket.

“For me, I had a single tweet that ended up gaining a ton of traction and ended up putting me at the front of the leaderboard for a little while in Salt Lake City,” said KSTU-TV multimedia journalist Lauren Steinbrecher, who recently won the station’s “Share Rocketeer” award.

The red-and-silver rocket trophy is awarded a few times a month to KSTU employees in the station’s afternoon editorial meetings to recognize outstanding performance on social media.

KSTU News Director Marc Sternfield

The Tribune-owned Fox affiliate’s digital content specialist and reporter Ashton Edwards said the idea came about after a journalism conference. KSTU News Director Marc Sternfield had the idea for an award. After some Googling, found the trophy on Amazon for about $20 back in March 2016 and it has been given out since.

“Tribune, as a company, has a focus on Share Rocket as a means to measure our social media engagement. I wanted to come up with something that I thought would be a fun, simple way to publicly recognize employees for their success with either a single social media post or coverage of a single topic throughout the day,” Sternfield said.

The award is not tied to any individual Share Rocket metric or social media stat. The station tries to award it to strong performers, those who have shown impressive growth or progress, or employees who tried something new or unusual on social media. And it’s not just for on-air staff – anyone who comes up with particularly compelling content or goes above and beyond might find the Share Rocketeer award on their desk for a little while.

“It’s a fun thing that I think people appreciate,” Sternfield said. “Something that employees can put on their desk and something that stands out as a reminder to them. Their work on social media is appreciated and supported by the station, and [the award] demonstrates that to other employees. [… It’s] a subjective way to sort of pass the baton around to different people who are really showing that kind of commitment.”

For Steinbrecher, the Share Rocketeer award recipient on Oct. 11, her social win came as a bit of a surprise.

“It was a tweet about Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and the crazy thing is, I published the tweet about a week prior to when it actually took off,” she said. “About a week after the tweet, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, I guess people were just searching for the phrase and finding the video I posted. I had people from across the country liking it, retweeting, and responding all day.”

The tweet, originally published on Oct. 3, picked up steam on Oct. 9. Steinbrecher had more than 2,200 engagements on social media that day and her social footprint represented a 2.78 Share of the entire Salt Lake City TV market. She was also No. 1 among individual in the market on Twitter that week with an 11.38 Share on that platform. It was the first time she’d had a piece of content go viral on Twitter, she said.

Steinbrecher’s viral tweet wasn’t anything out of the ordinary – just a shot of the crowd cheering and celebrating after the city council approved a resolution to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Columbus Day. It was a shot that likely would’ve made it into the package in the newscast, but because the reporter also had social in mind, it made an unexpected splash almost a week later.

That’s why we love the concept behind the Share Rocketeer award.

“My station wants to recognize the work that we do on social media so that we’re cognizant and posting when we’re out and about on stories,” Steinbrecher said.

That thinking shows a working strategy to get a station’s staff to participate in a what has become a critical distribution channel to reach viewers and fans. And according to Sternfield, one of the best things about social is that the audience then becomes a resource for the station, as well.

“Social media is modern journalism. It’s not only a way to disseminate news and to share events that impact a community, but also a way to allow journalists to curate and find those stories,” the news director said. “We’re constantly watching Share Rocket to see what’s trending and what’s resonating in the community, as well as what’s resonating on a national scale. While we don’t necessarily base our editorial decisions on what we’re seeing on social media, it’s a barometer of what people are interested in. It’s very valuable in that area.”

And with a little incentive – whether it’s financial or a perk or even a rocket trophy – you can encourage your staff to grow that valuable resource, both for themselves and for the station.

[Since the Amazon vendor appears to be back-ordered, click here if you’d like to buy a rocket trophy of your own!]

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