An experimental approach is key to social media success, Cox Media Group President Doug Franklin advises

During Cox Media Group President Doug Franklin’s visit today to The Palm Beach Post, among the focus areas he mentioned for strengthening the company’s digital future was social media.

Franklin said Cox properties should experiment with social media and not be afraid to try new things.

As an example, Franklin praised traffic reporter Jenni Hogan from Cox station KIRO-TV in Seattle. Hogan (@jennihogan) is thought to have the most Twitter followers in local TV news, with 30,000+ and counting.

Franklin said Hogan – a self-described fashionista who favors the color purple – started building her Twitter fan base in part by posting photos of her outfits and inviting followers to comment on them.

Hogan recently leveraged her huge following by asking people to donate items for underprivileged babies. She then hosted a “mobile tweetup” and joined a team that drove around for several hours one day to collect the donations.

Does this mean every media organization should copy this formula? Should newspaper reporters post photos of their outfits? Should teams of web producers rove the neighborhood picking up diapers?

That’s not the point.

The larger takeaway is that Hogan has successfully built a direct connection to her audience and is raising awareness about her TV station – all using free online tools. Plus, she has a midsized city’s worth of loyal followers whose feedback, help and attention can come in handy for any number of purposes.

That’s no longer the journalist of tomorrow – that’s the journalist of today.

“You can no longer do things in this business in the traditional way,” Franklin said.

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