(Editor’s Note: This four-part series examines Facebook “likes” and Twitter activity among the local news media. Part one covered TV news in the OKC market, and part two covered TV news in the Tulsa market. As part three, this covers state and local newspapers. Online-only outlets will be covered in part four.)
When I grew up, any family who wanted to know what was going on in their community needed a newspaper subscription.
Newspapers extolled the virtue of civic duty, the almost-antiquated notion that, to have a sound democracy, a populace needs daily journalism to remain well-informed about issues in and the people who run their county and country.
What has changed in the world of social media and online publication is not the goal or supposed virtue of newspapers and the stories they produce. Rather, what has changed is the mechanism by which those stories reach readers: print subscriptions have plummeted and social media now allow news consumers to customize their “feeds.” It’s a change that has hurt newspaper advertising revenue streams more than it has prevented the public from actually consuming “the news.”
I’ve made the following disclaimer in each of the two previous parts of this data-porn series, but it bears repeating: The following analysis is non-scientific. We hold no illusions as to the usefulness or comprehensiveness of the results contained herein. The conclusions drawn and stated are strictly for entertainment purposes only.
The purpose of this study is to identify who among the most recognizable Oklahoma media outlets have the most dominant social-media presences on Facebook and Twitter as measured by likes, tweets, followers and those following.
The two social-media platforms — Facebook and Twitter — were chosen because every news outlet included has at least one account on the two platforms. Although some media also have Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and, rarely, YouTube accounts, limiting the study to only Facebook and Twitter allowed more direct comparisons (apples to apples, if you will).
The newspapers included in this part of the study were chosen based on my personal familiarity with them. Full disclosure: I used to work as entertainment editor for The Norman Transcript between 2003 and 2006, and I worked at The Oklahoma Daily while pursuing my master’s degree. Also, it should be noted that the state’s largest paper, The Oklahoman, has two URLs that could be considered relevant to this report: oklahoman.com and newsok.com. I’ve decided to include both and combine their data where relevant.
These data were gathered between noon and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Since that time, some data have likely changed, so this report considers all cited data a snapshot of that particular time.
Facebook likes: It’s Tulsa’s world
|ENTITY||URL / HANDLE||FB LIKES|
|The Tulsa World||tulsaworld.com / @tulsaworld||81,965|
|The Oklahoman (2)||newsok.com / @NewsOK||54,218|
|Oklahoma Gazette||okgazette.com / @okgazette||28,127|
|The Oklahoman (1)||oklahoman.com / @TheOklahoman||18,944|
|Enid News & Eagle||enidnews.com / @enidnews||13,046|
|The Norman Transcript||normantranscript.com / @NormanNews||6,699|
|The Daily Ardmoreite||ardmoreite.com / @Ardmoreite||5,068|
|El Nacional||noticiasoklahoma.com / @Elnacionalok||4,497|
|The Oklahoma Daily||oudaily.com / @OUDaily||3,876|
|The Journal Record||journalrecord.com / @JournalRecord||2,319|
The Tulsa World manages the most likes out of the newspapers included in this study. Even with 73,162 combined total likes for The Oklahoman’s two Facebook pages, they still trail The World by just more than 8,800 likes. Meanwhile, The Oklahoma Gazette trails TW by more than 50,000 likes, and The Enid News & Eagle is the only other daily newspaper included in this study to break the 12,000 likes mark. While The Oklahoman bills itself as “the state’s largest newspaper,” it cannot claim the title of most “liked” (on Facebook), even with a higher circulation and two Facebook pages.
Other medium-sized newspapers in the state landed somewhere between the Norman Transcript and the Enid News & Eagle in terms of Facebook likes. The McAlester News Capital boasts 10,013 likes, the Muskogee Phoenix has 8,617 likes and the Weatherford Daily News has 7,642. The Lawton Constitution has 6,960.
While the Journal Record posts a good amount of content on its Facebook page, the business paper’s paywall blocks access to most of it without subscription. Many of the Oklahoma papers owned by CNHI — such as the Tranny, the News-Capital and the News & Eagle — have a limit on “free” page-views per month per IP address.
Tweets: The Oklahoman’s web-first product shines
|ENTITY||URL / HANDLE||TWEETS
|The Oklahoman (2)||newsok.com / @NewsOK||61.5|
|The Tulsa World||tulsaworld.com / @tulsaworld||53.7|
|Enid News & Eagle||enidnews.com / @enidnews||42.8|
|The Oklahoman (1)||oklahoman.com / @TheOklahoman||17.1|
|The Oklahoma Daily||oudaily.com / @OUDaily||13.0|
|The Norman Transcript||normantranscript.com / @NormanNews||11.5|
|Oklahoma Gazette||okgazette.com / @okgazette||11.2|
|The Daily Ardmoreite||ardmoreite.com / @Ardmoreite||10.4|
|The Journal Record||journalrecord.com / @JournalRecord||8.9|
|El Nacional||noticiasoklahoma.com / @Elnacionalok||2.119|
Within this study, the @NewsOK handle manages to blast out the most news in 140 characters or fewer, leading by about 7,800 over the Tulsa World. Surprisingly for its relative circulation, Enid’s @enidnews handle rounds out the top-three in this category, out-tweeting The Oklahoman’s other handle @TheOklahoman, the millennial-run @OUDaily handle, and the Transcript’s @NormanNews. Although The Journal Record and Gazette are weeklies, they remain close in tweet frequency to the Transcript and Ardmoreite.
Followers: @NewsOK has the biggest audience for all those tweets
|ENTITY||URL / HANDLE||FOLLOWERS (in thousands)|
|The Oklahoman (2)||newsok.com / @NewsOK||56.3|
|The Tulsa World||tulsaworld.com / @tulsaworld||50.5|
|Oklahoma Gazette||okgazette.com / @okgazette||41.1|
|The Oklahoman (1)||oklahoman.com / @TheOklahoman||32.1|
|The Oklahoma Daily||oudaily.com / @OUDaily||15.5|
|The Journal Record||journalrecord.com / @JournalRecord||12.1|
|The Norman Transcript||normantranscript.com / @NormanNews||7.6|
|Enid News & Eagle||enidnews.com / @enidnews||3.044|
|The Daily Ardmoreite||ardmoreite.com / @Ardmoreite||1.046|
|El Nacional||noticiasoklahoma.com / @Elnacionalok||0.240|
In relative terms, @NewsOK has only a slight lead of about 5,800 followers over @tulsaworld, however, the @TheOklahoman account has more than 32,000 followers, putting The Oke’s combined followers at about 88,400, though some are surely duplicates. I wonder if all those people following @TheOklahoman know that they could receive about three and a half times more tweets if they just followed @NewsOK? Granted, the content likely differs often, but the potential audience versus actual tweets for the @TheOklahoman account seems quite high.
Following on Twitter: The World likes you back
|ENTITY||URL / HANDLE||FOLLOWING|
|The Tulsa World||tulsaworld.com / @tulsaworld||8,726|
|The Oklahoma Daily||oudaily.com / @OUDaily||7,691|
|Oklahoma Gazette||okgazette.com / @okgazette||6,661|
|The Norman Transcript||normantranscript.com / @NormanNews||3,364|
|The Journal Record||journalrecord.com / @JournalRecord||1,823|
|The Oklahoman (1)||oklahoman.com / @TheOklahoman||895|
|The Oklahoman (2)||newsok.com / @NewsOK||337|
|El Nacional||noticiasoklahoma.com / @Elnacionalok||328|
|Enid News & Eagle||enidnews.com / @enidnews||107|
|The Daily Ardmoreite||ardmoreite.com / @Ardmoreite||60|
In what appears to be an emerging trend of this study, based on the previous two installments, it appears that engaging with social media users by actually following them could be conducive to increasing social media-based popularity. As the most-liked on Facebook, Tulsa World also turns out to follow the most Twitter users, while @OUDaily trails by only about 1,000 followed accounts. The Gazette rounds out the top three, but numbers fall way off for both of The Oklahoman’s accounts. Even El Nacional, which consistently places either last or in the bottom-three for each category, manages to follow about five times as many users as @Ardmoreite and only a handful fewer than @TheOklahoman.
So, who rules social media among local newspapers? It’s tough to pick an absolute winner for this installment, so I’m inclined to declare a tie between Tulsa World and The Oklahoman/NewsOK. The latter’s use of two URLs and handles for pushing its print content provides part of the confounding factor, while Tulsa World’s absolute dominance in the Facebook likes category and first- or second-place rankings in all other categories makes it hard to ignore as a leading figure within the social media examined.
In a way, this result illustrates the ongoing struggle that traditionally print-based media face in an increasingly digital world: As subscriptions decline at the hands of smartphones, tablets and widely accessible wi-fi, the print-based institutions of journalism scramble to plug the cracks in their leaky revenue boats. Perhaps that’s why one can see such higher levels of online activity among those institutions with higher overhead: In a way, likes and follows have become the new subscription base.
Tomorrow: Who rules the online-only landscape?
With the closing of our series on social media use among local news outlets, we turn finally to the digital natives of the local media environment.