Now that US celebrity television anchor Katie Couric is making the big leap to online news with Yahoo, she will need her nearly one million Twitter followers more than ever before.
Social media will undoubtedly play a large part in bringing viewers to Couric’s new work, as news on the internet increasingly has become about pushing content out to viewers, rather than having them tune into a show at a specified time.
Buzzfeed president Jon Steinberg thinks Couric should be judged by how well her stories move through social media: “That social lift, viral lift metric is really what [Yahoo] has to be looking at.”
This may be difficult for Couric. While her nightly television audience would reliably show up by the millions on a daily basis, her online audience has already proven much less dependable.
Occasionally followers come out in droves. For example, her mention of singer Avril Lavigne’s appearance on her show has been retweeted 1,704 times—the most ever for Couric:
Tweets like this give the appearance that Couric punches above her social weight. However, the large number of retweets is likely a result of Avril’s engaged following—one of those retweets was Avril herself republishing to her 13.8 million followers. Lavigne’s tweets were retweeted average of 2,606 times per original tweet and never fewer than 511 times last year.
Quartz scoured every @katiecouric tweet from her eight months on Twitter and found that, excluding replies to other messages (which are not visible to all users by default), the account averaged 27.9 retweets per post. Most of her tweets get fewer than 13 retweets.
The analysis showed that relatively few people took the time to watch Couric’s videos. Each link to her own site averaged 1,034 clicks according to Quartz’s analysis using bit.ly statistics for ktie.tv links, Couric’s branded short url. Most of her links get fewer than 520.
Social media isn’t used only to draw traffic to a website, but part of Couric’s allure to Yahoo is the audience that is expected to come with her.
Couric’s celebrity appears to have little influence on her follower engagement on Twitter. News media personalities with similar levels of followers like Kara Swisher and Joel Stein get similar levels of retweets and clicks.
In the last four months (the extent of his available data), Greenwald’s tweets were retweeted at more than seven times the rate of Couric’s—211 each on average. Most of Greenwald’s tweets are retweeted more than 112 times with topics covering privacy, Chelsea Manning, and drone attacks. Klein’s followers retweet his posts 53 times each on average—90% more often than do followers of Couric.
It doesn’t hurt that Couric is enjoying herself.
It has yet to be seen whether Yahoo will too.