Local Radio: How Important IS Social Media Strategy To Your Business? What’s A Good Plan?

Posted on March 25, 2013


strategy - social media

Social media sites are now used by more than 65 percent of adults over the age of 18 in the U.S. Some say those numbers are low. To establish that adult acceptance and widespread use of social media is not new, we are going to quote research from a couple of years back. According to a 2011 article from Pamorama.net, social media “visits” by adults broke out in this fashion two years ago: 83 percent of 18 – 29 year olds, 70 percent of 30 – 49 year olds, 51 percent of 50 – 64 year olds and 33 percent of those 65 and older were regularly using social media sites. That was two years ago! That’s an eternity in today’s new media timeline. The question for radio is simple: How do you best take advantage of the social media “traffic” for the benefit of your radio station?

“Do you have a social media strategic plan?” is the question that I often have to ask clients and the answer is too often, “Oh, yeah, we’re on Facebook and Twitter.” I have to ask the follow-up question: “What are you actually posting and how are you handling active local users you want to attract on those platforms?” Their answer to this second question is often, “What do you mean?”

All radio stations in 2013 should be regularly involved in social media for the purpose of engaging and influencing the listeners in their market they most want to attract. Social media offers great opportunity and potential access to these adults and young adults and your social media strategic plan will largely determine:

1. If you will have access to the right potential listeners for your radio brand.
2. If you will engage those people and how you will engage them for the purpose of validating them and encouraging them to choose your brand for companionship when working, in the car, or at home.
3. If you will be able to establish a relationship or perceived relationship with important social media actives who are influential with other listeners in your market.
4. If you will be influential enough yourself to generate additional opportunities of community service, engaging local causes important to your listeners, or even having the opportunity to “go viral” on a local level about a topic or some specific content that could involve your brand.

If you don’t have a social media strategic plan, you are essentially saying, “You know what? I don’t think there is any value in these social media platforms for radio even though a majority of adults in my market are spending a lot of time socializing with friends and engaging in the things that interest them the most in their off time.” If that is you, you may stop reading now. However, if you believe, as I do, that social media is a great opportunity if you develop content and engagement by first thinking about why your listeners are on Facebook and why they use Twitter and other services, read on.

Most radio stations and clusters have a strategic plan for capturing audience and turning that success into revenue. Our business historically changed to meet the needs of local listeners over the decades. In the 1950s, many radio stations had “shows” or “DJs” that came into the station with their own records. You wouldn’t see much of that today in serious revenue-generating radio stations due to the programming strategies that have brought more consistent ratings success, but you see something similar happening in social media with radio. Often the social media is not planned. It happens. Some managers see it as a waste of time or of little or no value. Those without a strategic plan are correct: There is very unlikely to be any value in your social media efforts. However, those who develop a strategic plan can harness this social connectivity with listeners to build relationships, higher ratings, brand-cheerleading, and even social revenue generation on the local level.

It is okay if you don’t want to have a social media plan. I am not responsible for telling anyone who does not want to participate that they should or must do so. Radio is a great way to communicate and connect with local listeners and generate revenue. You are likely to perform well without social media.

At the same time, it is great if you decide from reading this that you should have a social media strategic plan with specifics on what kind of content you share on social media platforms, how you connect and engage listeners, the visuals you share in high-resolution photos and videos related to the fun elements of your radio station, and the goals you want to achieve for your radio brands. It will be even better if you build a social media strategic plan where your team focuses on listener wants and needs and developing previously untapped revenue for your station or cluster. That is the business of evolving to the next level in the 21st century.

Loyd Ford

*Content originally appeared @ RadioInk.com. For more content on radio, go to RadioInk.com. Look for my column on social media and radio on the left-hand side of the homepage behind my picture and the word “Engagement.”

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Loyd Ford is the Direct Marketing, Ratings and Social Media Strategist for Americalist Direct Marketing. He works with media brands all across the country to improve ratings and participation with custom contest strategy, telemarketing, strategic direct mail and social media for radio clients. Contact him directly @ 877.475.6864 or Americalist1@aol.com.

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