KQED: Making News Social

KQED just threw down the gauntlet for how stations can use social media as an extension to their traditional web presence. The new KQED News Facebook page is a “source for news and insight” from northern California. The new page also features news from PBS and NPR.

We caught up with Ian Hill, KQED News’s online community engagement specialist, to find out more about this exciting new venture.

Where did the idea of a Facebook page come from?
KQED has a very active page at that is run by our marketing department and does a phenomenal job of letting people know about all our content across KQED’s television, radio and online platforms. KQED News now produces more than 18 daily radio newscasts, a statewide radio news show that can be heard on more than 35 stations, several blogs and a weekly news program on television so it became clear that we had more content than we could fit into one Facebook page. We wanted to make sure Facebook users were aware of all the news we had to offer and were given the chance to discuss our work and the issues we cover.

In addition, some studies have shown that Facebook users are more likely to get engaged with media content when that content is presented on topic-specific pages. We realized that presenting KQED News content on a news-only page makes it more likely that Facebook users will discuss that content, which furthers our goal of starting conversations about the news we provide.

Finally, we believe that Facebook's growth in popularity has made it a vital tool for reaching Bay Area residents when we have important information about breaking news in their community.

The KQED News site on your web site is very robust – so, what should we expect to see on the Facebook page? We've worked hard to strengthen our online news presence since launching last summer. The Facebook page is in some ways an extension of that effort in that it helps Facebook users learn more about the great online content we're producing. Much of the content we’ll post on the Facebook page will include links to content on and will seek the opinions of our Facebook fans on the issues we cover.

Several of posts will link to News Fix, our Bay Area news blog that's updated several times daily. If News Fix includes a post about a city proposal on leash laws in parks, we might update the Facebook page with a link to the post and ask fans if dogs are given too much freedom in recreation areas. Some of their comments then may be used in future blog posts.

We'll be following the same format with links to posts from our blogs that cover health, the environment and state government and politics, as well as online streaming audio of our local and state newscasts. As the page grows, Facebook posts will seek sources for news stories, help start discussions about news events like elections and serve to distribute breaking news when it's necessary.

How often are you posting information?

We're posting information about 12 times throughout the day, although our post frequency is dictated by the news cycle. If we have a breaking news story that demands multiple Facebook posts in a short span of time, that's what we'll do. Our posting times also won't be limited to the 9-to-5 business day, unlike some pages run by businesses. Facebook users are on the site when its convenient for them, not when its convenient for us. We need to respect that to be successful.

Are you working with community partners?
We're not working with community partners directly in respect to the Facebook page, however, we will share some of their content via Facebook as it's appropriate. For example, KQED News has a partnership with California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting. We're happy to share California Watch posts that are of interest to our community on Facebook.

How long did it take to get this off the ground?
The page itself took less than 15 minutes to set up and launch, and thanks to cross-promotion from the KQED Facebook page, we had 50 fans by the end of our first day. Prior to the launch of the page I did a fair amount of research online about best practices for news organizations and media on Facebook. I presented the results of my research to our newsroom managers, who endorsed the proposal for a KQED News page, and then to an in-house advisory committee on social media comprised of KQED employees representing several departments.

What one piece of advice would you give to another station who may want to do the same thing?

Just do it. There's a tendency at any large organization - whether it be a corporation or public media outlet - to approach social media with caution. But keep in mind, Facebook users have to click "Like" on your page before they start receiving posts from you in their newsfeed. Your content isn't automatically posted to everyone. As a result, the risk associated with starting a Facebook page is pretty small.

You can also follow @KQEDNews on Twitter.

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