Social Media Spotlight: Brian Allen

“I am just a regular guy whose job happens to be in journalism and television”

Not every anchor or reporter can be the next social media icon, nor do they need to be.

Brian Allen from KSFY in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is the first to say other anchors and reporters might be funnier or more charismatic. The secret to his success is authenticity. He’s just a normal guy. He’s a husband, father of six and a dog owner. His presence on social media reflects that.

“I try to be as authentic as I can with my viewers and my readers through my social media content,” Allen said. “To let them know that the guy they see on TV every night is a real person. A real person that doesn’t like the cold any more than they do. A person who is just trying to do his best in life.” The only difference between him and his viewers, Allen said, is that they see him on TV three times a night.

Allen values being real on his social media accounts, but he also wants to post content that helps “foster thought and conversation” among his followers. As an award-winning journalist, he tries to maintain a blend of serious reporting and relatable content on his feed. He mixes pictures of his wife and kids with updates about breaking local and national news.

Like both Kristen Hampton — a features reporter for WBTV in Charlotte — and Bob Herzog — a morning anchor at WKRC in Cincinnati — Allen also tries to stress positivity in his posts when he can. “I try to, whenever I can, find examples of people helping other people just because it’s the right thing to do,” Allen said.

He cares what people post on his page as well. He takes the time to read and comment — if necessary — on each post. “If I put out some type of post, and someone takes the time to write a response I read those responses,” Allen said. “And at the very least I try to respond with whatever emoticon might fit.” So the people who follow his page have come to expect that level of thoughtful, two-way communication. “It’s just being respectful of the relationship,” he said.

“I think that might be one of the reasons my professional Facebook page has the success that it does,” he said. “People know that when they respond, they’re not just responding to a void. They’re responding to someone who is genuinely going to take an interest in what their point of view might be.”

His suggestion to other reporters or anchors trying to find their voice on social media is simple. Start by answering one fundamental question: How open are you willing to be? Then, once you’ve set that comfort level, he said, it’s something that you should stay consistent with. Above all else, he echoed what we’ve heard before from other successful social media practitioners — it’s important to just be who you are.

“I don’t take any of [my followers] for granted, and I’m very appreciative of the fact that they find me interesting enough, and hopefully trust me enough, to hang in there and keep following the page,” Allen said. “I’ve had comments several times from people who have said, ‘I watch you on TV more because I know you now. You’re not just some guy on TV.’ When I hear that it makes me feel good because in my mind it is mission accomplished.”

Do you know an anchor, reporter or meteorologist who is using social media to engage with his or her viewers and deserves to be our next Social Media Spotlight? If so, email us at cronkitenewslab@asu.edu and we’ll check them out.

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