I’ve started to wonder if twitter is inherently negative. Don’t get me wrong, I love twitter. But, recently I’ve noticed an avalanche of stories involving radio and twitter’s dark side; threats, trolls, listener backlash, industry bullying, and firings over tweets. We talk about it extensively on this week’s radio stuff podcast.
Is it Twitter’s fault?
“You really can’t say it is all twitters fault,” says Lori Lewis, Jacobs Media’s Digital and Social Media Strategist, on the Radio Stuff podcast. “All of these folks are not using Twitter constructively, nor are they using it strategically. So when they shoot off at the mouth, they say in appropriate things, if it just backfires on them or nobody is interacting with them, it’s absolutely not Twitter. It’s every individual’s use of the platform.”
Oh. Okay, so why do this? Why put yourself out there? Why participate in social? And if you choose to do it how do you do it right?
WHY BE SOCIAL? IT’S A RATINGS THING.
“I can’t tell you how many talent I get to work for and their ratings correlate their social use. It’s amazing and could be coincidence, but there is a major market radio station, they have one talent that is a social brand – the midday personality – he outshines the entire radio station weekly after weekly after weekly — he’s always number one. Now, he’s the new person on the radio station. Everybody else is legendary. Everybody’s been there for decades and they don’t participate in any of the social tools and while their ratings are good, isn’t it ironic that the social brand really outshines them?”
AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA AT YOUR OWN PERIL
“You’re just making room for your competitor. You don’t have to Twitter. People don’t have to embrace social, but all you’re doing is making it harder for yourself and making it harder for your future. This is where the puck is going and if you think it’s cute to say you don’t know those apps, you don’t use those platforms – that’s your prerogative, but there’s someone younger and faster ready to take your place.”
USE COMMON SENSE
“It takes skill to humanize a brand and come off naturally. You really should watch your grammar. There is nothing attractive about using the letter ‘u’ for you. We don’t have to look like 12-year-old girls when we are tweeting. I think you have to remember at the end of the day that social is as public as face-to-face and it’s almost louder than it is face-to-face. Because, when your tweet shows up in my live feed and you are cussing or you have bad spelling or grammar or it’s just not funny – it’s just substandard – it’s almost more offensive.”
STUDY THE PLATFORM
“Twitter is the most simple platform of all the social tools out there. Yet, you really have to study it. You really have to listen. Listen to the founders of Twitter, listen to the CEO Dick Costello, and listen to all the VPs of brand development. How are they expecting users to use the platform? And then when you have studied it enough and you have watched people who are really winning on Twitter, you start understanding the strength and you start using twitter appropriately.”
BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT YOU TWEET
“So many people think the social space is an unrestrictive playground and they can say and do whatever they like. And you know what? You can, but so can your bosses. And if you are the voice of a radio station, if you are the face of a brand, — it doesn’t matter if you are on the air or not on the air – it doesn’t matter who you are, if you have any affiliation with a brand and you say something that is questionable, that gets a rise from a lot of people, your boss also has the right to do and say whatever they wish too. And people really need to get over themselves.
TAKE CONTROL FROM THE TROLLS
“One of my favorite things is just to block people. But there’s no golden rule out there. I see this happen more on Facebook, because the comments lay there more publicly than looking at tweets. There’s no rule that you have to let those comments sit there for everyone to read. Delete that stuff. If it’s inappropriate, if it’s vulgar, if it just doesn’t fit, if it’s weird…there’s no rule that it has to stay. Trolls will bait you and they will get you to say things you would never ever say in public.”
Everyone is getting excited, because Twitter reported the death of Whitney Houston 45 minutes before traditional news sources. Actually it didn’t, some guys named Big Chorizo and Aja Dior M. did. Social Media sites don’t break news, they allow others to break news through them.
The graphic below is from mashable.com.
An unscientific survey of friends shows most found out about Whitney’s death through social media (Facebook, twitter), though most can’t cite the source behind the information. Surely, Twitter doesn’t want to claim credit for Big Chorizo’s breaking news, or it opens the social media site up to massive legal issues. But, that doesn’t diminish the power of twitter.
To me, this is the shifting news paradigm; People are learning about and talking about breaking news stories in break-neck speed.
For years, news organizations have spent millions building news brands (first, fast & accurate — eyewitness news — on your side, etc), yet in today’s world we consume the information so quickly we don’t stop to see where it came from – and in most cases we don’t care. In fact, an initial prank report that Whitney Houston had died from a bee attack was believed by several dozen twitter users before it was debunked. And keeping up with the speed of news is a dangerous game as CBS Sports discovered by prematurely reporting the death of Joe Paterno.
A friend of mine was espousing how TMZ was ’the source’ for the Whitney Houston story and how amazing it is TMZ has established their brand with celebrity news in six years or so. However, just because TMZ reports something is it automatically worth repeating? My observation is that TMZ is willing to report on stories and facts with limited confirmation, paid information, or single source. Which is why everyone else gives TMZ credit for developing celebrity news and facts in situations like the deaths of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. If TMZ gets it wrong, the brand isn’t tarnished. If CBS gets it wrong, the world sits up and takes notice.
UPDATE: Here is a real example of how TMZ puts credible sources in jeopardy.
Whitney’s funeral is in Jersey and there is still debate over where she’ll be laid to rest – Newark NJ or Atlanta GA – even according to TMZ. Makes me wonder if the “debate” is real or a way for TMZ to save face. Sure, it is a minor detail, but it is a microcosm of a larger issue; followers think they are getting information from a trusted source “WSB” and may not remember pr notice that WSB was sourcing TMZ. So, if Whitney is ultimately laid to rest in Newark some WSB followers will think WSB got it wrong.
So, what is a credible news team supposed to do in this out-of-control, I-want-it-first-I want-it-now society?
At the radio station I program, we removed most of the TV monitors from the news room and replaced them with tweetdecks about a year ago. We use them to see what’s trending, mine and develop unique stories and keep us on the front edge of the artificial news cycle, instead of chasing news papers and TV stations.
News teams (and talk hosts) should strive to tell an interesting story or share a unique detail instead of breaking the news. As we are learning, when the news breaks, most don’t recall where they learned it. It’s what you do with the story after it circles the globe in 23 seconds that will define your brand.
UPDATE 2/15/2012: Two concepts: “Verification” and “Curation”, are key to the future of news. More on Twitter as a breaking news source from CNN
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.
I’m a big fan of author Seth Godin. I read his books, follow his blog, and when I saw he was coming to Seattle for a half-day session I jumped at the opportunity. I think Seth is a big thinker and while he’s marketing-minded he has wide-ranging opinions on wide-ranging topics. At our session he jumped from chastising those in attendance for daring to “waste the revolution,” permission marketing, the difference between artists and workers, the important role of parents in education, and the death of radio, among many others.
In regards to radio, Seth was answering a question I asked, “What’s the future of radio?”
Seth responded, “Terrestrial radio is d-e-a-d. Dead.” He went on to explain that radio was built on the model of scarcity. If you owned a radio station you were one of say 14 radio stations in the city. The number of commercials were finite as were the number of places you could place commercials. In three years, when wi-fi is readily available in everyone’s car, those 14 stations become 14,000,000 stations, including channels you can program yourself, and thus scarcity is gone forever. Your options are infinite.
While not a revelation, hearing it out loud in a room full of people is stinging. I’m sure I was a little red-faced, as my stomach dropped and I considered for a half-second that I should quit this crazy business. I recovered. So now what? Do we all just close up shop and call it a career? Nope.
The key is for “radio people” is to stop being defined by the delivery system. We are artists who create and sell content. That won’t change. How we create it, how we distribute it, and how we sell it will change. Welcome to the radio revolution. In order to save “radio people” from singing the same, sad, bitter tune that the record and publishing industries are right now, we need to think about how we do what we do differently.
Consumers want what they want, when they want it on the device of their choosing. It’s no longer mass media; it’s personal. That’s actually good news, because now we can focus on improving the quality of our content. You see, in order to have “mass consumption” of a product it (radio, a widget, or otherwise) has to appeal to a mass of people, which means it’s likely average. Godin described this as a race to the bottom – the cheapest, the most efficient, the “good enough.” Good enough radio content has succeeded for years and years. Now the game is changing and the most successful of us are racing to the top, which means your audio content needs to stand out from the crowd – be remarkable. It has to be so great that if you were to go away tomorrow, you’d be missed. If not, you’re just a cog in the radio/audio wheel. And cogs are interchangeable.
So, yes, radio as we know it will come to an end. That puts the responsibility on all of us to help determine how it evolves. In order to do that we can’t wait around be told what to do. We all have a tendency to show up and do “our job.” In order to influence the future, we need to think of ourselves as artists who do work. Godin encourages us to stop waiting for the map to appear and instead create it ourselves. “True art,” Godin says, “is when someone solves a problem for the first time in a creative way.” This means no longer using the excuses we’ve used so well for so long; my boss won’t let me, it’s not my job, and I don’t have the authority to make change. Be a leader. Help solve problems. Get involved. Make the impossible, possible. It’s time for us all to push forward, try things, fail, learn, try again.
Let’s get to work.
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
“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.
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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