Digital Innovation Awards profile: How #FallonWantsFallon took off for Lahontan Valley News

As we get closer to the May 1-2 Digital Revenue Summit in Chicago, we’ll profile some of the winners from our Digital Innovation Awards contest. Some of the winners from that contest will present at the conference.

Today, we’ll feature Lahontan Valley News, a Swift newspaper that won Best Social Media Strategy up to 750,000 uniques.

Name: Caren Roblin

Title: Director of Content, Sierra Nevada Media Group (Swift Communications)

What do you think is working right now with your social media strategy? As far as #FallonWantsFallon, we addressed an online challenge the Lahontan Valley News newsroom was having, which was poor SEO whenever anyone searched the word “Fallon.” It would come up with Jimmy Fallon results, not really Fallon, NV. Hence the beginning of our brainstorm for the entire campaign. The key to its success (particularly last year) was getting influencer and stakeholder buy-in from around the community (the school district, the mayor, the Naval base, etc.) before it officially launched and striking a cord with community pride. The entire town rallied around this campaign, driving it to be covered by nearby broadcast news stations and ultimately reach tens of thousands of people (far beyond the number of fans on the LVN’s Facebook page or even the total population of Fallon itself).

How are you thinking about Facebook today? Are there tools and strategies that have really worked on their platform? Since the latest algorithm changes, I’ve been advising my newsrooms to think about posts that would drive conversations and to engage with commenters—answering questions, thanking them for feedback, etc. Also, video video video! These have always been best practices I’ve advised, but they’re even more important to follow now. When our Page admins answer user questions about stories in the comments or post even raw video clips of things our fans wouldn’t see on their own, we definitely see higher reach and engagement. It’s never about posting to fill a time slot—it’s about posting truly engaging content that our audience cares about. Ultimately, when it comes to human nature, people will share posts that make them look cooler or smarter to their network. Thinking about that always is critical to our various strategies as we move forward in this new “Facebook algorithm world.”

Are there revenue areas that you have had success with on social media you could share? Thinking outside the box is key when it comes to revenue. We’ve created and been publishing various video series that are either building an audience in hopes of a sponsor (i.e. our Foodlore video series) or have had a sponsor from the beginning (i.e. Everything Nevada’s Behind The Line and The Stage Beyond video series). It comes down to engaging content that a sponsor would want to be tied to. I also oversee a team that fulfills social media marketing and video production for outside clients.

Anything else you’d like to share on your social strategy? Don’t be afraid of failure. As long as you haven’t offended your audience, there is no such thing as a failed post or campaign—just learning opportunities. And the only way to know what’s working and what’s not is to set goals and constantly measure along the way. If it didn’t work, why not? How can you tweak it for the future? If it did work, why? How can this be (at least somewhat) replicated in the future? Give your team to bandwidth and permission to experiment and fail. Get a little crazy with your ideas. As long as they’re learning, I would consider that a success. Beyond that, plan as much as you can. The more planning you can do, the easier the execution and the better results you’ll have.

*You can register for the Digital Revenue Summit here.*