If you have conversations with radio people across the U.S. about social media strategy, nearly everyone will tell you they have one. They will say, “We’re on Facebook and Twitter.” When you ask a follow-up question about what kinds of content they are using, the answers regularly become more disturbing. Often, it’s, “What do you mean?”
The bottom-line is simple. Most battles are won before the first bullet is fired. In social media, you should have some specific goals and you should build an actual strategic plan that focuses on who you want to target, what types of content you want to use, how often you post, and how you attract the local listeners you want to engage to your personalities and local radio brand. And you should also make sure your content and visuals do not become stale. So, here are a few thoughts as you prepare for a change-of-life season we all know as fall (complete with both PPM and diary ratings and plenty of revenue pressure):
1. Visuals are the No. 1 attractant for eyes in social media. Fun, engaging, or interesting photos, and video that best represents the fun of actually engaging your brand should be in the foreground of your social media today. After all, you want to attract local listeners and visual not only gives you more opportunity to gain access to their attention, there are visually fun elements to the radio business that will encourage familiarity between the local listeners you most want to attract and your radio brands.
2. Causes can be a great electrifier of loyalty to your local personalities and this can lead to loyalty to large portions of your radio station in highly coveted day parts. Do you encourage your staff to identify local causes that are important to them and “fight for them” in social media? If you don’t, you should think about it because people who are highly fired up about causes (appropriate to your format and target, please) can lead other highly passionate “believers” to your brands and cut off competitors by giving listeners a deep personal reason to choose you : their cause.
3. Twists on content important to your target (those you most want to attract) that lead listeners back to your radio station and to appointments. This means taking a subject that you know does very well with your core target audience and a current event that is “happening” in pop culture and twisting it so that listeners have to come to your station or directly to your website to get more details. In other words, don’t give up “the baby” in social media. Give them a taste and bring them back to something you own. We should really be trying to do this in ALL THINGS we do in social media environments. After all, we don’t really care how Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms do. We should be focused on the strategic mission of improving our connection with important local listeners of our brand and driving results for the local broadcast company.
4. Community involvement can be a big driver for your efforts and get important “actives” more connected to you if you develop a program for highlighting their events that attract others. You have so many tools for doing this today. You can post pictures and details on Facebook, Twitter, your website and other digital platforms. Again, this is like the “causes” section above, but this time you are engaging active groups and highlighting their efforts. This is validation of effort and allows you to also gain access (as you should, to having your logos on all printed material, t-shirts and other assets that help connect you to their effort. The more you validate people, the closer they will come to you. When you are dealing with actives who are working on important issues as a group, that is an identified element of the market that is packed with potential cheerleaders for your brand.
5. Visual connectivity is so important that you should develop a regular amount of steady content that focuses on the fun things about your brand that listeners get, want, and have a passion for today. This can be stars in a music format, backstage activities most listeners don’t see, pictures of fans inside and outside an arena at a concert, listeners wearing or holding station swag and smiling, and more. It could be politicians and community leaders engaged with your brand if you are a News/Talk station. The focus is on what the most important keys are visually for bringing the listeners you most want to attract in social media closer to your brand. That’s usually fun or something important enough for the listeners to stop and spend time looking. Familiarity breeds loyalty.
6. Finally, you might think that doing the same thing over and over and over is good. Sometimes it is good. However, if you pay close attention you can get a lesson from big companies such as McDonalds or Coke. The most successful national restaurant chains do it. Big time nightclubs do it. Coke does it. They “turn the lights up, turn the lights down.” Or, I should say, they “freshen” their brand visuals and offerings. You can do this in social media by adjusting things about your “pages” or visuals that you use to identify your brand (careful to follow company policy). You are not looking to change your brand. You are only looking to freshen the visual images from time to time so you get noticed again.
The bottom line with social media is that you want to be fun, helpful, and engaging. You don’t want to only promote yourself. Much of radio is taking the generic road or the self-promotion road in social media. Stand out. Mean something. Offer listeners something personal. Connect with them and truly engage them. Use visuals and control the percentage of content, when you post, and the freshening of image from time to time to create communities around your radio station that happen to marry up with the local listeners you most want to attract for your brand.
If you don’t have a specific strategic plan for social media that works for your radio station, you are making a mistake. Change it. Develop a plan. Don’t know how to develop an effective plan? Reach out and get help. This is important stuff if you do it right. The world is changing and consumers (listeners) are gaining access to real power like never before. This isn’t just for radio, but all companies better get with consumers and focus on what is important to them. Otherwise, you will be “out.” Since the biggest efforts in radio have been on reducing every cost and not on expanding our footprint and engagement in local markets, this is especially true for radio.
Social media gives you arguably the easiest path to develop a plan and execute it with specifics to strengthen your advantage over other competitors who are only “on Facebook and Twitter.”
*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 & 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. His interests include social media, digital local-direct revenue and non-traditional revenue for radio. And, yes, he believes you should be receiving more share of digital revenue in your local radio market along with higher ratings. Contact him directly @ 877.475.6864 or Americalist1@aol.com.