We’ve talked to two outstanding social media practitioners from the state of North Carolina already, Molly Grantham and Kristen Hampton both from WBTV in Charlotte, but about an hour away there’s another reporter making a real connection with his followers as well.
Chad Tucker has lived in the Piedmont Triad — the Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem area of North Carolina — for most of his life. His familiarity with the area, and dedication to the people that live there, have shown through in both his reporting and his presence on social media.
Tucker is a features reporter and anchor at WGHP, a local FOX affiliate covering the mid-size market of the Piedmont Triad. “We still have that small, hometown feel where everybody kind of knows everybody,” Tucker said of the area. “We just try to get to know our viewers as much as we can, and [social media] is just another way of doing that.”
The station is very family-oriented and involved in the community, he said, and it has been for decades. Tucker’s content on social media reflects that. It is often conversational in tone, and it invites his followers to be a part of his family. “I share what’s going on in my life,” he said, “and people connect with that. They find a connection like ‘Oh he’s going to the same things we go to.’”
What is most important for Tucker is to build that relationship with his followers. “If you’re willing to share [parts of your life],” he said, “I think it makes your connection with the viewers a lot stronger. And in turn, I have discovered, they trust you. When there’s big stories that are happening, you want people to turn to their local news. And you know they feel that connection with you. They have trust in that relationship, and so it’s like they’re turning to a family member.”
He knows that a constant flow of content is an important part of connecting with viewers, but he doesn’t let that impede his life outside the newsroom. Tucker often schedules posts of “evergreen” content for nights and weekends, so that he can spend that time with his family and being a father to his two daughters.
“You have to draw the line, especially when you have children,” he said. “You know I always say, ‘I only get one chance to be a dad.’”
Even though he’s still following the news of the day when he’s not at the station — as any good journalist would be — Tucker understands the value of “unplugging” from the constant barrage of social media every once in a while. “The beauty of social media,” he said, “is that it has the features that allow you to stay connected when you may not be — you may be unplugged that day.”
In the newsroom, Tucker reports for a segment called “Roy’s Folks” — named for WGHP reporter Roy Ackland who introduced the feature series in 1988 — which highlights interesting, historical stories from the area. That content is often positive, local and uplifting, and that’s something Tucker has seen his followers clamor for on social media — especially his followers on Facebook who tend to fall into an older demographic.
And through a trial and error process over the years, that’s what Tucker knows his followers want — the positive, uplifting content. It’s what they’ll respond to, so he doesn’t try to inundate his feed with news headlines. He knows that if viewers want that information they’ll go to the station’s feed.
His advice to younger journalists – find out what your followers want and then bring them that content. Much like Brian Allen — the anchor and reporter from Sioux Falls, South Dakota that we highlighted with an earlier Social Media Spotlight — Tucker also preaches being attentive to your followers. “Make sure you take time and read the comments,” Tucker said. “I tell people, don’t just post something and walk away. You have to make some time later on — it doesn’t have to be right then — but come back to what you’ve posted and read your comments.”
Most importantly, build that relationship with your followers because when they’re looking for local news they’ll think of you, he said.
What’s worked for me on social media, he said “is simply doing exactly what you should be doing as a journalist, and that’s building connections in the community.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll check them out.