Facebook Outreach To Local Media: Practical Insights and Advice

Under increasing scrutiny from the press and public due to the role social media has played in recent news events including the United States election, there has been an increase in activity from Facebook to explain themselves and the role they play as many people’s “front page” of content consumption.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that he believes in a “strong news industry” (his recent manifesto to the world is here) but while he has shown concern about the issues of fake news, he hasn’t specifically addressed the massive distribution and economic disruption created by Facebook to local publishers.  


Facebook clearly would like to have quality content be a larger, not smaller part of their engagement machine going forward.  To that end, they have launched a series of meetings and presentations for national and local media to explain the ways that Facebook works and wants to collaborate with news publishers.  From the new head of news partnership, Campbell Brown, hosting exclusive meetings at her New York City home with media elite to the Facebook Journalism Project, Facebook is reaching out with three messages: Collaboration on new products, training and tools for journalists, and training and tools for “everyone” in an attempt to improve media literacy.


As part of the effort around these three goals, Facebook has been holding a series of workshops around the country with invitations to local media.  SmithGeiger alongside many leading local newsrooms and companies attended one of the recent meetings in Atlanta.  We thought it would be useful to summarize the day for those who couldn’t attend and provide a set of supplemental notes to those who did make it.

Local News On Facebook
Their general advice for success: Post often, do a mix of content.  As always with Facebook presentations, the themes of immediacy and authenticity are suggested to any content creator who wants to have success on their platforms.

Facebook Video
The march towards video continues at Facebook.  For Facebook Live, they recommend local media think about creating suspense, engaging in real time, and taking advantage of API capability (attaching the output of production tools to create the stream).  For 360 videos, they recommend local media consider it to create engaging and immersive experiences.  

Instagram For News
Again, they recommend local media post consistently to reach the 100 million people who use the app every day, to use video, do Instagram live, and Instagram stories.

To grow local media Instagram accounts, they recommend that the accounts have a focus and not tackle a wide range of stories.   The Instagram team encourages local media to use the comment controls that they offer to help teams keep their Instagram accounts appropriate for their audiences and content.

Quick pro tip from their team:  make location tags standard operating procedure

To grow engagement, they recommend local media create more video that triggers comments, that the video always start with the strongest video elements, make it capable of being watched with the sound off, and make it square. They offered that the native camera app comes with tools that offer location stickers, filters, text fields, drawing tools…each ways to enhance the production of the content local media is creating for Instagram display.

Quick pro tip from their team:  please use the two factor authentication to protect Instagram accounts.

One of the tools that Facebook has bought and now offers for free to users is CrowdTangle.  The team at Facebook said that the tool will remain a cross platform effort with Reddit being the latest addition to what can be tracked.

Using CrowdTangle
There are three ways that the CrowdTangle team recommended to help local newsrooms manage social smarter and post better content.

Find new angles on stories.
 - They recommended that local media go into state subreddit threads and do searches related to beats and stories.
 - They offered that local media should go into appropriate subreddits and answer questions and point to their content.

Set up alerts to see conversations that are getting a lot of activity.
 - Local media can use CrowdTangle to monitor media in the region for emerging stories.
 - They recommended that teams create lists of first responders and have certain keywords flagged for attention.

Quick pro tip from their team:  Use CrowdTangle to monitor local college media/newspapers for stories

Use the referral search capability.
 - This can help local media teams see which of their local posts are performing the best

Quick pro tip from their team:  don’t forget to use the Crowdtangle Chrome extension

We would like to thank Jason White and his team from Facebook for the opportunity to learn more about Facebook’s operations.   If you have additional questions about the topics above, please talk to your SmithGeiger consultant.