Social media should be a vital component to your strategy to engage, retain and grow your fan base. One study just released (by Arbitron) shows most radio stations and hosts are still broadcasting (simply pushing information) on social media instead of engaging.
Engagement comes in many forms and it’s crucial if you are going to engage in social media that you create a 24/7 experience. This means replying to tweets/comments online and on air, retweeting posts, following listeners, asking questions, providing information, expressing opinions and observations, posting pictures, videos, and owning big events or moments.
If done correctly, not only will the listeners feel like they’re a part of your show and/or your station (and not just witness to it), but you’ll have a staff of tens-of-thousands helping you prep and advance your show or giving you leads for stories.
And the key is doing this without taking our focus off of creating great content for radio. For talk shows, hosts and producers will need work together and assign specific duties to make sure you serve your fans the best you can. Read through jobs-to-be-done below and work together to identify what each member of the show unit can do to contribute to the effort.
These are social media insights from talent who are having success with it; 97.3 KIRO FM’s morning news anchor Linda Thomas (@thenewschick), 710 ESPN Seattle producer Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynESPN), Syndicated host Dave Ramsey (@RamseyShow and @DaveRamsey), CBS Dallas Sports radio morning guy Shan Shariff (@newschoolSS), and regionally syndicated hosts Armstrong & Getty (@AandGshow) among others..
Here are some of the Jobs-to-be-done for successful social media
Make the show a 24/7 experience; don’t just tweet or Facebook while on the air. The most successful engagers are tweeting opinions, insights, observations and pictures during the time they are off the air. This is how you can get fans to think about your show when you aren’t on the air. And create a community of fans who can turn to you for reaction at any given moment and not have to wait for your show to start.
Showcase your personality. Sending links to stories is not enough. It’s your personality and how you observe the world that resonates with YOUR fans. Engage. Have a conversation.
Be substantive. Don’t just make this a promo machine, telling people to listen to the radio at a certain time for some reason. If you promote something to get radio listeners, follow-up with a link to the discussion for those who missed it. The rule of thumb is four pieces of content for one piece of promotion.
Think of it as content. Use twitter and Facebook to find REMARKABLE comments on things you are talking about on air. Reading a BAD tweet is just as bad as a BAD phone call.
Reply to follower’s messages. Not all messages, but messages that add to the conversation.
Retweet. GREAT messages that ADD to the conversation should be retweeted, so the community can see how others are engaging with you.
FOLLOW all followers. This is how you grow your community.
Own big moments; provide an ongoing commentary of big events/moments. Assume your followers are witnessing what you’re seeing, so it doesn’t become straight play-by-play. Notice what YOU notice.
Give Access. Tweet or Facebook behind the scenes access; observations, pictures, videos.
Share Audio. Tweet and/or post podcasts and short sound clips each day that showcase your show, your personality or the station.
If you have successful best practices you’d like to share please post a comment or send me a note.
It’s evident that CUME is the name of the game in the PPM world. Sure you can talk about occasions and ATE, but in the end the only way to truly protect your station from the ebbs and flows of the imperfect Arbitron measuring tool is to have so many listeners that it doesn’t matter if a P1 with a meter goes on vacation. The dilemma is how do you build CUME without marketing dollars? It’s a question that came up recently over lunch with a friend.
1. Be consistent and compelling. It all comes down to what comes out of the speakers. Consistent refers to the quality of the content, not the actual content. Listeners want to invest time into a station that always delivers “the goods.” It’s not about being predictable (see also; boring), it’s about being reliably entertaining and informative. In order to be compelling, you have to create something. It’s no longer acceptable to simply identify and debate the top stories. You must tell stories, make emotional connections, tell the listener something they didn’t know before, put it into context and make it relevant. You should strive to get the listener to say to themselves, “I never thought about it that way before.” If you are able to be consistent and compelling, your listeners will be your marketing campaign. They will tell friends, colleagues and social media networks about what they heard on your show and station, driving new CUME directly to you with a personal endorsement from someone they already trust.
2. Be the station for SOMETHING. Whether it’s traffic on the 5′s, the most accurate weather, breaking news coverage, election coverage, a team’s information station, finanical news, war coverage or other, pick a position and own it. If you don’t have one already look around the market and figure out who / what is being underserved. When you brand your show or station as THEE source for “x” you must tell people what you’re going to do (make a promise), do it (keep the promise), and remind them that you did it (proof of performance). Over time, this will drive CUME to your station, because everyone in the market will eventually know if “x” happens, you go “here.”
3. Social Media. Yes, we all know we need to do social media, but many shows/stations aren’t doing it right. Twitter and facebook are not meant to only tease your show. This is a chance to interact with fans. There are a couple important things to remember; update often and reply to responses. When you respond to a listener’s comment you make a connection. That person will tell his/her friends that you responded and maybe share your response with their social network. That’s the key. You need to find ways to tap into listener’s social networks. Some hosts are now inviting core listeners with large social networks into the studio for a day to blog, twitter, and facebook about what they see, here and experience while at the station. You can also use social media for contesting especially with location based programs like foursquare and give prizes to the first 10 people to check-in at a location.
4. Event Programming. Capitalizing on a major events or stories that your station can own; The Japan Earthquake/Tsunami, The Super Bowl, The Election, etc. Event programming needs to be heavily branded and reinforced during and after. It may include going commercial free or if you can plan far enough in advance attaching a sponsor to it.
5. Station Events. The model for this is WIPs “Wing Bowl.” But, don’t be intimidated. You don’t need 20,000 people to attend your station event to be successful. The key is to provide a unique experience, that listeners determine to be remarkable (ie. Worth talking about.) Stations need to think big and bold and create an experience or provide access that listeners otherwise couldn’t get on their own. It could be a limited-access, high-end tailgate party or an invitation-only leadership seminar featuring big names from the lecture-circuit for selected clients and listeners. Think big. For example, a 10×10 tent at a local car dealership doesn’t count.
Doing one of these things won’t be enough to drive the amount of CUME you need to maintain through a calendar year to be PPM-proof. Find ways to address all of these and if you can secure marketing dollars great, but be strategic and have something to say.
Social Media can be exciting or scary. It can be seen as an opportunity or burden. Admittedly, some broadcast companies are embracing it with open arms, building communities and making money. Others resist it as a personal affront reminiscent of the Mom Gifford rant of 1979 in objection to the microwave oven. She’s since gotten over it, but many radio companies are still fighting the need for social media.
Enter Nate Riggs.
“Don’t try to do everything all at once. Pick one thing that you’re going to do 110% and get really good at. If it’s a Facebook page invest your time and energy in building a community around that Facebook page and engaging in that community. I think it’s a perfect complement to radio, because radio is traditionally a push medium; we listen to radio.”
Nate is a business communications specialist, a marketer and social media content engineer based in Columbus, OH. In a podcast interview with Larry Gifford Media, he says that the most important thing a radio station can do is to assign a real live body to their social media efforts.
“General rule of thumb: don’t get too hung-up on the shiny bells and whistles and the technology it’s more about really coming up with the content and putting humans on-air or on-line that are going to make that content work with the audience. If you think about it, that’s not too far off from what successful radio shows already do.”
Nate recently wrote a blog piece offering free advice to the Morning Zoo at WNCI-FM in Columbus. He tells LGM that there a ton of opportunities for radio stations in the social media space.
“Most radio stations will have remotes or go out and have events at night clubs, restaurant, or concerts and I think there’s a huge opportunity to even have things like location-based check-ins with services like foursquare or even Facebook places especially for contesting.”
In keeping in line with that personal connection to the fan, Nate suggests each personality have his or her own account instead of the radio station in general or a show. People want to interact with people not things. It also allows you to really focus your messaging to the people who want to receive it from that show or personality.
The big question is how do you convince your web master that it’s okay to be promoting Facebook pages and twitter accounts over pushing fans through the station website? Nate thinks it might time to change that paradigm.
“Is it more about engaging the audience and really keeping them and having them as part of the conversation or is about spiking website traffic? The ads that are on the radio station website aren’t really getting seen by that many people. There is some click-through and there are some impressions being delivered, but internet ads on those particular websites have become very much like TV; a big portion of the audience glazes over and doesn’t even see them. “
So, as you and your station begins to tackle the social media landscape, what’s most important? Here are Nate’s Top Three Things…
1. Go get the education. Go to the conferences like Social Fresh, south by southwest, blog world and dozens of other events bringing these experts to the table. It will help you get your head around how to use it.
2. Use it as a personal user. How can you ever take a technology and apply it to your business if you haven’t taken the time to understand it for yourself? Go out and connect with old classmates on Facebook or get on twitter and start to follow people, start a blog, and do something that will allow you to have the experience in this space to start to get your head around how to apply it to your business
3. Leverage radio. Radio is a passive medium; we use it when we drive, when we are doing other things, when we are sitting at the computer. There is a huge advantage there. You might have someone sitting at a computer and if you can drop a message on the air they have an opportunity right then and there to take an action and get on line. Don’t ignore that opportunity. That’s going to a big thing that is going to help radio convert listeners to the online space.
Looking ahead Nate says to keep your eyes open for the rise of group texting sites like “groupme”
Nate Riggs is a business communications specialist, a marketer and social media content engineer based in Columbus, OH. He started Nate Riggs Social Business Strategies at www.nateriggs.com and @nateriggs on twitter.
Listen to the podcast here: Nate Riggs – Social Media Podcast
Some have suggested the “Let’s Talk About It” newsletter, shouldn’t be called a newsletter (Lets Talk About It – Issue IX – March 2011). Here is one e-mail, ““You asked in part of your newsletter if we had any suggestions. I always hated the word NEWSLETTER. Sounds like something they’d hand you as you pick up your kid a Day Care.”
sign up for “Let’s Talk About It” for free at www.larrygifford.com
“Give people permission to fail.” – Seth Godin. If people fear failure they won’t take risks, try anything new, and they won’t raise their hand and volunteer, because there is no upside. As a manager, encourage creativity, challenge conventional wisdom and celebrate failures as part of the process of trying.
Don’t ignore your twitter followers and facebook friends. A reply from a radio show or host may make their day. – Nate Riggs
When Derek Jeter and the Yankees began contract negotiations, 1050 ESPN New York was all over the story. After several hours of discussing it, the hosts began to wonder if they had exhausted the story. That’s when recently appointed program director Justin Craig called his counter-part at ESPNNewYork.com and asked how the story was doing online. In an interview with LarryGifford.com, Craig describes how the show hosts shifted and put even more focus on the story, because it was such a hot topic and trending so high on the website. “We use (the website) as a meter to find out what’s hot and what’s not. That’s kind of the judge and jury.”
Welcome to your new reality. Stations all over the country are now using New and Social Media to help prep and guide their shows. When he was PD at ESPN 1000 in Chicago, Craig and his team used Twitter to test topic angles and ask fans what they should talk about next. “Every single day we’re using social media like it’s nothing. It used to be, ‘call us!’ Now it’s, ‘Tweet us! Send us a text!’”
The first thing Craig does each morning is check Twitter and Facebook to see what people are talking about. He cautions that you have to be careful not to over react to a trending topic. “You still have to take everything with a grain of salt. Ask yourself, is this truly something everyone cares about? You still have to know, have a sense for news and information and an understanding about what it means.”
Craig is blown away by how the importance of social media for radio stations has exploded. “It’s not just important, it’s mandatory. If you’re not using it, you’re going to have a hard time winning.”
In his career, Craig has seen his daily routine evolve from checking the AP wires and cleaning newsprint off his hands, to using the Internet, facebook and Twitter. He wonders aloud, “What’s next? Considering all information is at your fingertips 24 / 7 – this medium is changing, and it’s changing right before us, and we better get a head of it.”
Listen to the entire interview with 1050 ESPN New York Program Director Justin Craig in which he reveals what he looks for when hiring talent and how to prep for a show.
Don’t look now, but JK Rowling has made radio relevant to kids. Kids! The little people who barely know what a radio is. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, a major character in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows part one is a small, portable radio. Ron uses the radio to keep tabs on the war raging on back home and hoping not to hear any of his family listed among the casualties. His radio is informative, keeps them all connected, and is comforting when times are tough. This is amazing. Rowling could have had the kids twittering information or using text message, but she opted for the good ole’ reliable radio. Sure, it was scratchy at times, but when the content is good, important and necessary it’s worth listening through the static. At least that is the message being beamed around the World to millions of kids – most of whom have never considered listening to the radio for information or for any reason these days.
Two things the radio industry should do now, quickly.
1) Thank JK Rowling. Publicly, grandly, with much fanfare. Celebrate the role radio plays in Harry, Ron and Hermione‘s quest to conquer Voldemort. Seriously. After all, what was the last pop culture phenomenon to utilize radio; The Lone Ranger?
2) Capitalize on this moment. It maybe time to relaunch the kids format, Disney or something new, where kids can listen for their friends names to be called out on the radio (Just like Ron). Where they can get information from other kids on styles, movies, music and more. Interviews with child stars, etc. Plus, of course – great, kids music. Also, get portable radios into the hands of kids, now, while the memory of Ron, Harry and Hermione gathering around the radio is still fresh in their minds. Where is the radio industries “official Harry Potter portable radio?”
Mike & Mike interviewed Tiger Woods for 16:51 seconds over the course of two on-air segments this morning. They asked 28 questions, 6 of them were closed (yes/no) questions. Was it ground breaking? No. Was I expecting it to be? No. When I heard Mike & Mike were going to interview Tiger Woods – I was expecting more Larry King than 60 Minutes. It was good to hear Tiger take ownership of his past behavior, talk about how he’s a better person and is able to gain balance and focus in his life.
I give Mike & Mike credit, because this is not an easy interview, however I believe they tried to cover too much ground, were over-coached and never followed up on some of the meatier issues that Tiger brought up. Tiger mentioned being “balanced” now vs. “unbalanced” before, but they never asked him what it means to Tiger to be balanced and what he’s doing to achieve balance. Tiger mentioned several times that through introspection he’s discovered who he is and where he is going. They never followed up and asked “who are you now?” or “where are you going?” I would have also liked to have heard Tiger talk about what lead to his slow, gradual loss of control in his life. What are the warning signs for others?
Is what Mike & Mike did this morning great radio? Yes. It’s the most recognizable athlete in the World answering questions many want to hear asked. It’s also an event. I’m certain more people came to ESPN Radio, ESPNRadio.com, and ESPN2, because of this interview today. I know it also caused a mess of tweets on twitter. As programmers, you must leverage these event moments in radio to build occasions and grow ratings. Trust me, when an interview any show on your station conducts blows up twitter and brings a bunch of P2s and P3s to your station, it’s a good day.
Watch this two-minute commercial Conan did for American Express
If Conan was a radio talk host this would be two-minutes of him ad-libbing, live, about how he uses American Express and so should you, because with 4.95% interest rate and a low annual fee, no card cares more about you than American Express, blah, blah, blah. This is the kind of ineffective advertising we all hear on radio every day.
Radio needs to surprise its fans and clients a lot more. What happened to the innovation, creativity, clever copy writing and story telling? Let this inspire you to try something new. Be different. Stand out of the crowd. Pay attention to the details. How cool would it be tell your clients that the spot you did for them was so clever, funny, creative, entertaining, and impactful that it’s a trending topic on twitter? Oh, and as an added bonus, more entertaining commercials leads to increased time spent listening.
I googled “radio” this morning. Suddenly I feel sad for good ole’ radio. Here’s what I saw:
It turns out Radio doesn’t even own the radio brand anymore. Pandora. Sirius. XM. Free internet radio. I had to go to page 2 before the first radio station website showed up (KCRW which is non-commercial), Z100 showed up on page 3. This isn’t an accident. People looking for “radio” on Google – aren’t actually looking for radio. They’re looking for content. They want it on their computer or phone and they want it now. So, what are you doing to accommodate them? This is no longer about pounding your frequency 100x hour hoping listeners will remember to go where to find your product, this is about pushing your product to every possible platform you can so it just shows up whenever they want it and how every they want to consume it. One of my favorite quotes is “evolve or face extinction” and it has never been more true than it is today for radio.
Weclome to the blog. Larry Gifford is a radio management consultant and talent coach. He is available for ongoing or project based consulting for U.S. and International radio groups, stations, and talent
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