Local Radio: Are You Real In Social Media? Listeners Can Tell.

Posted on August 31, 2013



It’s interesting how fast things become news, flash and fade away. Basically, we all know at this point that Miley Cyrus recently did something sexually over the top at the VMAs and social media exploded about it (predictably). Now it’s just another in a long line of behaviors to get celebrity attention, but Onion.com essentially did a parody of an open “admission commentary” of the actual managing editor of CNN.com about their coverage of this “important cultural event.” Maybe that’s more interesting for those in the radio business anyway.

Radio covered Miley and her “interesting” performance, too. However, the CNN.com “admission letter” was focused on how CNN does everything possible to trick viewers into spending as much time as possible on their website so they can show major advertisers they need to spend more money with CNN.com and that sounds strangely like one of the large radio companies controlled by a private equity group today, doesn’t it?

Essentially, the commentary suggests that CNN.com does the following:

1. CNN.com does everything they can to get viewers to click on CNN.com so they can drive up their Web traffic, which in turn would allow them to increase advertising revenue.

2. The “managing editor” suggests that CNN.com doesn’t just do a top story on the VMA performance. CNN.com would potentially do a slideshow called “Evolution of Miley,” which is just a way to manipulate almost everyone to mindlessly click through 13 more photos of Miley Cyrus. The managing “editor” goes on to describe that if CNN.com can get 500,000 viewers to do that, 500,000 multiplied gets them 6.5 million page views just on that one slideshow. CNN.com could add a few more slide shows related to past VMAs and, well, you get the idea. More manipulation. “Also, there are two videos,” the open Onion.com letter says. “One of the event and then some two-minute clip featuring our ‘entertainment experts’ talking about the performance.” The parody of CNN.com continued, “Side note: Advertisers, along with you idiots, love videos.”

*Make a note: Listeners (humans) love videos. That part is not parody. It’s for local radio social media content.

Again, basically, the “editor” was saying, “If you clicked on the story, and all the slideshows, and all the other VMA coverage, that means you’ve probably been on CNN.com for more than seven minutes, which lowers our overall bounce rate” (the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page). Keep the bounce rate low and show companies that people don’t just go to CNN.com but stay there and they can “go to Ford or McDonald’s or Samsonite or whatever big company, and ask for the big bucks.”
The point of the parody on Onion.com was that CNN.com pandering to the lowest common element on their Web assets means: “All you are to us, and all you will ever be to us, are eyeballs. The more eyeballs on our content, the more cash we can ask for. Period.”

That sounds like private equity thinking, doesn’t it? But that doesn’t equal real value to advertisers and we all know it.

The conclusion of this “admission letter” was that CNN could have stuck to doing what mattered in their business, “but then not nearly as many people would have seen it, which wouldn’t get us the page views we want, which wouldn’t get us the money we want. So you see, there’s no stopping this.”

The Onion.com parody was suggesting that CNN.com does the same thing Miley was doing on the VMAs: Trying to get the most attention and get money without worrying about content consequences or even protecting the value of their brand (the golden goose). That’s not what you should be doing if you are trying to grow a local radio brand or the value of individual brands in your local cluster to both listeners and advertisers. After all, local radio gets power from being local and really connecting with local listeners and for local advertisers.

While local radio can use tactics like those described above to artificially boost social media views and keep people engaged in that content longer, our real mission is to serve listeners and advertisers and that takes real value on assets we own. Advertisers will eventually catch up with “fake manipulators” (even in social media). I’m not suggesting that you don’t do things to get attention. Getting attention is a fine thing to do in our business. However, real value is not faked. And “fake” social media leads where fake relationship leads: No where.

How do you build real value? Simple. Build a strategic plan for your social media and overall digital that supports your assets and grows your ratings and revenue. Use pictures and videos to gain attention, but provide real content that is truly interesting and important to local listeners to build trust with your listeners/viewers (online) and bring them back to your real relationship that is actually valuable to your advertisers. That kind of value is something you can use to boost page views as well as to support your over-the-air products because authentic local relationship is a value that grows over time because local consumers do trust you and what you put out in social media and on your website as well as over your air.

And don’t worry so much about following private equity down a fake hole meant to capture people’s money and not actually provide any value for anyone. Faking out advertisers is simply bad behavior.

This is local radio. Our connection is what makes us different than the automated processed numbers advertisers buy from a distance when their livelihood doesn’t depend on actual results. It gives radio unique power that other advertisers simply don’t deliver. Your social media and digital should represent you. Not cute tricks to get temporary eyes for no value.

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 & 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.


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