In markets both big and small, tweets still made up the majority of social media posts for local broadcasters in the fourth quarter of 2016 despite Facebook’s huge advantages in both audience size and ability to drive engagement on social media, according to Share Rocket data.
We analyzed data from 15 randomly-selected markets from October to December 2016 to determine if broadcasters in smaller markets had different posting habits than those in larger markets. Our analysis found that while small, midsized, and large market broadcasters all saw very similar levels of engagement on the three social platforms Share Rocket tracks, broadcasters in large markets posted more on Twitter while broadcasters in smaller markets posted more on the Facebook platform.
Our analysis looked at three groups of five markets – five in the top 10 largest DMAs in the country, five in markets 20-40, and five in DMAs ranked 50th or smaller. Let’s take a look at some of our findings in more detail:
- All three of the groups had more than 60% of their total social audience on Facebook, but the large and medium-sized markets had higher percentages of their audience on Twitter than small markets. The small markets showed 70.2% of their total social audience was on Facebook, compared to 64.1% for large markets and 62.1% for medium markets. Twitter followers made up only 25.4% of the total social audience for the small markets compared to 31.2% for large markets and 34.3% for medium markets. Across all the markets we analyzed, Instagram followers made up less than 5% of the total social audience, peaking at 4.8% of the total social audience in the large markets.
- 72.9% of social posts in the largest markets were published on Twitter, compared to 23.4% on Facebook and 3.8% on Instagram. The smallest markets had a much smaller percentage of their posts on Twitter. In the DMAs 50+, 62.1% of posts on social media were tweets, 35.2% were Facebook posts, and 2.7% were Instagram posts. The medium-sized markets fell between the other two groups, with 68.3% of their posts on Twitter, 28.8% on Facebook, and 2.9% on Instagram.
- The percentage of engagement from each platform was perhaps the most interesting in our analysis. Despite the differences in the percentage of their social audience on each platform and the differences in where they published most of their posts, the percentage of total engagement coming from each platform was extremely close among all three groups. The largest markets saw 91.2% of their total engagement on social media come from Facebook, compared to 92.6% for the medium-sized markets and 93.9% for the smallest markets in our analysis. The largest markets saw 5.1% of their total engagement on social from Instagram, compared to 3.4% for the medium-sized markets and 3% for the smallest markets. The largest markets saw just 3.8% of their total engagement from Twitter, even though 72.9% of their posts were on the platform. For comparison, medium-sized markets saw 4% of their total engagement on Twitter and the smallest markets saw 3.1%. This tracks with something we’ve observed at many stations: broadcasters spend a lot of time and effort publishing on Twitter, even though it drives the least engagement of any of the social platforms we track. In this analysis, there was no clear correlation between the percentage of total social posts on Twitter and the percentage of total social engagement on the platform, so there was no clear benefit in terms of engagement in putting more effort into Twitter.
- Looking at the overall combined numbers from the 15 markets, 65% of their social audience was on Facebook, 31% on Twitter, and 4% on Instagram. Sixty-nine percent of their social posts were on Twitter, 28% were on Facebook, and 3% were on Instagram. Ninety-two percent of their total engagement came from Facebook, 4% from Twitter, and 4% from Instagram. Again, this further underscores Facebook’s unequaled ability to drive engagement on social media.
- Across all markets, broadcasters averaged 401.6 engagements per post on Facebook, 165.1 engagements per post on Instagram, and just 6.5 engagements per post on Twitter. Of the 15 markets we analyzed, the highest engagement per post on any platform in any of the markets was 1,091.8 engagements per post on Facebook in Atlanta. The highest engagement per post on any platform in the mid-sized markets was 546.7 on Facebook in Portland, Oregon. The highest engagement per post on any platform in the five smaller markets was 280.4 on Facebook in Fresno, California.
So, what are the takeaways from this data?
First and foremost, broadcasters are spending a lot of their time and effort on Twitter, particularly in larger markets. However, the vast majority of engagement on social media is driven by Facebook, so if your goal on social media is improving engagement, you should consider how you prioritize Facebook vs. Twitter when you have valuable content or breaking news.
Secondly, Instagram is still a relatively small piece of the social market for broadcasters, but it at least drives an equivalent amount of engagement for the effort a broadcaster puts in. Instagram content represented 3% of total social posts while driving 4% of the total engagement. That is something that can’t be said for Twitter, which accounted for 69% of the total social media posts in this analysis yet also drove 4% of total engagement.
Finally, the biggest difference between the largest markets in the country and the smaller markets we saw in our data was the greater focus on Twitter in larger markets and more reliance on Facebook in the smaller markets. However, the engagement percentages illustrate that there was no noticeable benefit to one approach or the other. All three groups (small, medium, and large markets) received between 91.2% and 93.9% of their engagement on social media from Facebook.
For both smaller markets and larger ones, Facebook is the cornerstone to an effective social media strategy.