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Radio and Social Media

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Photo of Stephanie WinansRadio and social media are often referred to (with no hard feelings here!) as old media and new media. While the words “old” and “new” create an image of opposites, radio and social media share common ground.

 

As a medium, radio has always had immediacy on its side. Until the emergence of social media, no other medium was able to react as quickly to breaking news or world crisis. Radio and social media now share the opportunity to act and respond instantly.

 

They also share a common goal: engagement. When used incorrectly, both radio and social media can feel like a one-way broadcast. However, at their best, both inspire emotion and engagement by telling stories that yield a response from listeners or viewers.

 

Radio and Social Media: It’s Like A Nursery Rhyme

Since they share the same goal and are by nature similar platforms, succeeding at social media should be a cinch for radio. And I’ll have to say, when radio does social media well, they rock it… But when they don’t, it’s downright embarrassing. It’s like The Little Girl With a Curl nursery rhyme: “When she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid.”

 

Why isn’t social media success always the case for radio? We as an industry have some social media challenges to overcome:

 

Staffing

In radio the term is “wearing many hats”. The U.S. radio industry has not been exempt from the effects of the declining economy, and the major companies have made mass layoffs in recent years. Ask radio broadcasters about their jobs today compared to ten years ago, and they will likely explain (or complain about) the many additional “hats” they wear now. The jobs that once required three personnel now require one.

 

Because radio employees (air talent included) are already heavily burdened beyond their primary responsibilities, the time investment for social media management is a problem. While some stations are lucky enough to have a dedicated social media manager (or strategist, even), the majority do not. The time it takes to manage social networks and create organic content is split between several staff members.

 

Strategy (or Lack Thereof)

For the unlucky stations who lack a social media manager, strategy is also often missing. Air talent are expected to make several posts a day, but are often unguided in what types of content to share and how to engage or interact with listeners online. There are random acts of social- some successful, some awkward. And because there is no one person “in charge” there is no plan, and often no measurement of the results.

 

The social media focus for many radio stations is misguided, too. Often the only goal measured is quantity. While every brand strives to build a large online community, those who do social media well understand that the quality of engagement within the community is more important than the size of the community.

 

Because radio has the opportunity to build big social media promotions with prizes that other brands could only dream of securing, many stations and shows boast large numbers of likes and followers. (For example, Kidd Kraddick has 465,588 Facebook likes.) However, the focus should extend beyond the goal of racking up numbers. The end goal should be conversion- turning casual listeners into “P1” listeners (listeners who spend more time listening to that station than any other) by engaging and building relationships around the brand- it’s music, it’s air talent.

 

Control

Another issue not unique to radio, but plaguing the industry nonetheless, is that of ownership and control. As companies tighten their focus and develop social media strategies, they create content rules and social media policies that challenge their on air talent. While a good strategy always comes with guidelines, it can be counterproductive if the rules aren’t explained correctly, or aren’t developed with the station’s social media framework in mind. Rules that are too strict tend to stifle the creativity of those radio-creative minds, resulting in less participation and less organic content.

 

The Future of the Radio and Social Media Relationship

With companies like Pandora and Spotify making industry news daily, digital innovation is a hot button in radio right now. If social media didn’t seem like a big deal to radio before, that’s changing. More companies and shows are hiring consultants and staff to plan and manage their social media efforts.

 

Radio stations and shows already have “all the tools in the toolbox”. They have a captive audience, they already curate and create entertaining content, and they know first-hand the value of a true fan. The time for learning to how use those tools online is now.

 

The future for radio and social media isn’t just bright, it’s blinding. So put your sunglasses on.

Stephanie Winans

Stephanie Winans works in radio the chief digital media strategist for The Randy Lane Company. You can find Stephanie Blending the 'experienced' media of Radio with the 'new' media of the Internet on her blog, "On-Air to Online".

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15 comments

  1. Everyone always thinks of TV and Social Media, but it’s just as important for other forms of Media to diversify with digital media as well. It will help radio personalities stay relevant longer, it keeps the morning show on your mind throughout the day, and there is one thing that suits Radio in Social Media that other companies do not have: The Scale of the Swarm

    I mentioned that I listened to Kidd Kraddick to you, and they have 6 personalities that get some exposure on air every morning (if you include Psycho Shannon, and I DO!!). Kidd obviously has the biggest social media following, but each personality can create their own content and reach their own independent following. Some followers will get updates from all 6, which increases the chance that they’ll get a touch from the show every day, and some will be exclusive to a single personality, like J-Si or Kelly. Even though Kidd just has 96,000 Twitter followers, Kelly has another 56,000, Big Al has another 36k, J-Si has 44k, and Jenna has 30k. So 100k followers is now possibly 200k. That’s social media scale in action: KHKS in Dallas style!

    • StephanieWinans /

       Adam,
      You’re right that personalities have a huge advantage with social media. I often see air talent on even the smallest shows have a huge following online! Not only does this allow them to connect one-on-one with listeners, enhance the exposure of the show, but it also doesn’t hurt with contract renewal. :)

  2. BillyTheKidd /

    EXCELLENT article! Will save this for sure! ” the focus should extend beyond the goal of racking up numbers. The end goal should be conversion- turning casual listeners into “P1” listeners (listeners who spend more time listening to that station than any other) by engaging and building relationships around the brand- it’s music, it’s air talent.” <—- This  is SO TRUE and dead on. Being engaged with your audience at all times. Not just posting, but interacting. I hold back on even calling them listeners. I have been in Dallas for 12 years, they are friends. They have seen me at my best and worst, shared memories together and most importantly we share the passion of music! All mixed in and done right, you will build a personal connection with your FRIENDS that is unbreakable. 

    • StephanieWinans /

      Thanks for your comment! You’re right, too. Listeners do become friends when you break down those barriers. Social media is not only a focus group to find out what listeners like/hate about the show, but it can be personally rewarding in the connections you make.

    • I found Billy after I knew you were going to guest with us Stephanie. I was strucky by how much he engaged with the followers, like he said “They’re friends” – it was much like talking to a neighbor, and that’s how you leverage a brand in social media. I think that may be a reason I like Radio people more than TV people lol.

      After I did the initial bit of marketing for this article, I mentioned J-Si from the Kidd Kraddick show and we had a short conversation on Twitter. I don’t even know if they were off the air yet! Radio is a workhorse, and even though there are probably 10x the radio personalities as TV actors online, you don’t here about screw ups from radio that much.

      • StephanieWinans /

        Not hearing about screw ups from radio is awesome. The radio people who love social media are GREAT at it.

  3. I dont have sympathy for jocks who dont get social media. This train has been coming down the track for 5 years now, and if you haven’t taken the time to how to figure out how to babysit your brand, that’s your loss.

    The jocks had to be the ones pushing the envelope all along. Using FB and Twitter to seed show topics, writing blogs with show notes, posting the best bits on soundcloud or a podcast, streaming live events with UStream and YouTubing big events.  Those are the BASICS of the past 5+ years.

    When it comes to stations having a ‘social media manager’, that’s usually lying on the lap of promotions.  They’re the ones that speak in the voice of the station with the events they create, they wrangle the squads to wear logo at events, and they’re the ones preparing post-event reports for clients.

    Not too difficult to take those photos/videos and toss them in a FB gallery and encourage the fans to “tag themselves.”

    Chances are your staff is already on Facebook during the day at their desk, or in the control room. Don’t give me the ‘we don’t have time’ excuse.  Computers now cycle the music and spots, there are no carts or albums to cue up – you have plenty of time.

    If you don’ t get it, you’d better hurry up and get it because the world isn’t waiting for you to catch up.

    • StephanieWinans /

       Buzz, I LOVE the “Babysit your Brand” quip. That needs to be its own blog post! Also, your point about “don’t have time” is a fabulous one… and so true!

      Thanks for the comment. I always enjoy your input… and for anyone reading this, follow @BuzzBishop on Twitter. He has great insights.

      • Remember when the request line used to ring?  It doesnt ring anymore, twitter is ringing.

        You were NEVER allowed to let that request line ring without answering, why would you let twitter ring without answering?

    • yep – spot on. I speak with local DJs often, and I live in an area that isn’t exactly inclined to technology. I remember the first RSS feed I ever saw was on the EKB (East Kentucky Broadcasting) blog. However, I do have sympathy for some of the people who aren’t up to speed though. Not everyone is a “High Tech RedNeck” a la George Jones lol

  4. this article of your is a nice one. its  a must read. 

  5. I don’t know if I agree. I’ve been disappointed with both Spotify and Pandora. Basically because my music collection is huge. I want a place to play music and interact like we do on facebook and twitter. Turntable.fm got close, but too many restrictions, too long of a wait to play a song, and too many rules.

  6. Thanks for the content shared. FANTASTIC .

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