On Thursday, Stephanie Miller, the Digital Media Director for CBS Television in Boston stopped by Northeastern to do a presentation on how WBZ is drastically changing its newsroom to adapt to new media and tailor their coverage to stories viewers care about.
The most impressive thing she let us onto was a database the network developed to make sense of all the story requests they get via Declare Your Curiosity. The database is a private one, programmed specifically for the networks needs. It looked and operated very much like Google Analytics, but with the ability to sift through data more pertinent to a newsroom.
Miller also discussed their social media strategy, which she claims has been three years in the making. Among the highlights:
- -They don’t overdose on the social media promotion. They want to develop the relationships as organically as possible. They want to build relationships in the community, and hope they get viral love as people believe they are legit.
- -They don’t want quantitative numbers of followers on Twitter and Facebook, they want qualitative.
- -They want conversation and people to advocate for them.
- -Try to be conversational and witty, and they don’t want to use a promotion device. No spamming headlines.
- -Twitter is not an RSS feed.
- -They measure qualitative response to things. Unique visitors, time spent on page, etc.
Despite all this effort, they’ve had a hard time getting interactions with people online that are under the age of 45.
I did bring up one issue with Miller, and that is that the networks will always find it difficult to engage younger viewers because they face an identity problem. Younger internet users (ie: me) were not raised with WBZ being an internet titan (because they weren’t). WBZ is a newcomer to this game and it doesn’t matter what their name meant in the TV/Radio world. It’s great that they’re a phenomenal TV news station, but their online presence will inevitably suffer because of this problem of branding.