Like many other television news stations, WLOX in South Mississippi realizes that a large portion of its viewing audience comes from social media sites.
New producers and reporters learn how to write Web stories, tweet and post to Facebook long before they begin to work on broadcasts.
Christina Garcia is familiar to audiences across South Mississippi as the lead anchor for the 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. news. But when she’s not in front of the camera, she spends most of her time bringing the news to viewers on social media.
“Social media is where your viewers are,” Garcia said. “If you aren’t posting to social media, you almost don’t exist.”
Every day Garcia comes in and finds the stories she believes will most appeal to the WLOX audience and posts them online. Using a service called Shoutlet, she is able to determine the best social media platforms for the stories she’s working on and when to schedule her posts. In many ways, Garcia says her social media duties are just as important as anchoring the evening news.
“This is where the industry has gone,” Garcia said. “It’s not going there, it’s already there.”
While the employees of WLOX use all social media platforms to publish content, Facebook drives the most audience. In addition to the station’s main Facebook page, each reporter and many of the producers have their own fan pages.
With more than 3,000 likes on his fan page and over a thousand Twitter followers, news reporter Jonathan Brannan is perhaps the most popular journalist on social media at WLOX. He says part of the reason he has such a big fan base is because he never takes himself too seriously.
“If people can see you acting human and being silly every once in a while,” Brannan said, “then they’re more likely to take you seriously when serious stuff is happening.”
Some of Brannon’s most popular posts on Facebook are behind-the-scenes style videos of him goofing off with his co-workers.
“Every day I’m learning something new and trying something different on social media,” he said.
According to Brannan, timing, keeping things short and staying active are his personal keys to success on social media. He says that keeping that relationship with the audience is important, especially when there might be something serious going on that could affect them.
“Your audience needs to be connected when things are happening,” Brannan said. “You need to build that communication for their safety.”
This story contributed by Payton Green, a broadcast journalist student at the University of Mississippi.