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Social Media Done Right: NBC Connecticut's 'I Like It' Campaign

Stephen Kennedy

Every morning I wake up between 6 and 6:30 AM. Before getting my daily dose of Matt Lauer and Ann Curry on TODAY, I tune in to NBC Connecticut, my local NBC affiliate. For those first 30-60 minutes of my morning I turn to Yvonne Nava and Brad Drazen for the headlines of the day and meteorologist Bob Maxon to see if I'll need my umbrella. While I have always appreciated the news (I make a living because of it), I have to admit that I have at times found local news to be a bit of a commodity. Whether I'm watching my local NBC station or another affiliate, the stories are usually pretty similar and the on-camera banter is pretty interchangeable. But recently, NBC Connecticut put a plan in to motion that it hoped would help differentiate its brand and news programming from its competitors at ABC, CBS and FOX.

Meet the "I Like It" Facebook campaign. NBC Connecticut, understanding the importance of viewer engagement recently embarked on an aggressive campaign to increase the number of Facebook users that "like" the network. Utilizing on-air promotion, ads and aggressive, sometimes daily, giveaways (we're talking iPads, laptops and flat screen TVs), the station sought to increase the number of viewers who participated in the news beyond that early morning and early evening timeslots. By building a body of participants on the social media platform, NBC Connecticut would enhance its ability to deliver the news while gaining a medium through which to receive tips and speak to its audience (something that can't be done through a camera and TV).

But why put the time and energy into such an endeavor? People just want to tune in, get the news and tune out right? Wrong. Brand loyalty is not won through advertising or even through traditional public relations anymore. Consumers (and audiences) want to interact with brands and personalities directly. Just look at the number of Twitter followers garnered by today's celebrities and athletes. Transparency and engagement foster loyalty in crowded marketplaces. Why would someone turn to NBC over ABC, CBS or FOX? Well, if they felt they could dialog directly with the station and its hosts I'd venture to guess that they would be more likely to select that network over another when flipping channels. And there lies the importance of social media.

Ok, Ok. I know we've all been preached to (or preached ourselves) about the importance of social media. Either you're a believer or you're not, but there is no denying its presence in today's world. And NBC Connecticut understands this. And because it understands this the station has gained considerable social media marketshare from its competitors (ABC, CBS & FOX). According to Wildfire, in mid-July NBC Connecticut had just over 5,200 Facebook "likes" (putting it in third place among the four local affiliates). Now, just six (or so) weeks after the start of the "I Like It" campaign, NBC Connecticut has catapulted into first place with nearly 80,000 likes. That's four times as many as local ABC station, WTNH.

Still skeptical? You're likely saying, that's great. The station as a lot of "likes." So what? It doesn't mean people are paying attention to them. Again, the proof lies in the pudding. As I'm sure you know, earlier this week the East Coast experienced its first earthquake in a number of years. Shortly after reports of the tremor surfaced, NBC Connecticut turned to its new army of Facebook fans. Within minutes a post about the earthquake garnered more than 886 comments (see left). If that's not engagement, then I don't know what is!

Social media is here to stay and we must learn to embrace it. Kudos to NBC Connecticut for understanding how this new media medium works and for leveraging it in a transparent and unobtrusive way. The station serves as a good example for how to build an online presence the right way. A job very well done!  CJP

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