A Chat with Lou Brutus
November 19, 2010
Coming from the active rock world, Lou Brutus is a personality you not only know of; you try to learn from him. His syndicated weekend show hardDrive with Lou Brutus is heard on over 110 stations while the weeknight version, hardDrive XL, is on in over 40 markets.
You don't have to be a headbanger to learn from Brutus, though. The way he has embraced the world of social media should be commended. Brutus has jumped head first into the digital world, and the results are obvious.
This is a two-part chat with Lou Brutus. This week we discuss social media. The second part will run next Friday, November 26th, 2010.
Chuck Armstrong: To put it simply, your social presence on-line is huge. You're constantly updating your friends, fans and followers with the your latest comedic rant or posting photography. Do you think your nonstop on-line presence affects your on-air product?
Lou Brutus: Yes, but only in a good way. It's not that this stuff is super time consuming. I like to give those who follow along a little something each day but it's not like I'm writing a book. I tend to work on this early and late in my day to keep it away from the bulk of my duties. You also don't wanna overkill people and become what amounts to just another spammer. If what you're putting out there is good then a little will go a long way. It's just like it is on the air. Plus, with people spread out all over the place, this is all a great way to allow someone to contact me directly. If you take the time for people, it will pay off for you in many, many ways.
CA: Do you ever worry about pulling the curtain back too far? There's a lot of crazies out there, man.
LB: For all of the stuff I put online, there's really little to no personal material. I am surprised at times at what some people do post. For example: personal family information, political or religious rants, digs at co-workers or employers and other stuff that makes me shake my head. I think when people come to me they want to laugh or find out something cool. They probably already have enough drama and downers in their life, they don't need me to add to it. Nobody wants to hear bitching from a guy who gets to fly around and hang out with rock stars.
LB: Sometimes it's the little things. I recently read an article on animal abuse which led me to write a Facebook update that said, "Never trust anyone who mistreats animals." It received hundreds of Likes and comments. I've also found that time of day and year can affect response. If you've got something non-timely then it's a good idea to sit on it till a high traffic time like when everyone is stuck in on a weekend where there's bad weather as you can see an amazing jump in response because if you throw it out there on a sunny Saturday afternoon it will pass unnoticed. When the country got socked with blizzards last Winter I took advantage by putting out some good interactive topics and received several hundred responses to each one. Also saw huge jumps in followers. However, when it's timely and topical you've got get it out there as soon as you can. It's just like on air material.
CA: In your many years in this industry, have you encountered talent who just won't jump on the digital bandwagon? Do you think that this old-school way of thinking is sustainable for personalities?
LB: I look at social networking as a tool. I feel it's one of the most important tools you can have at this point in time. That may change in the coming years but in the here and now it's a way of reaching millions of listeners. It's where the lion's share of the people are. Yes, I do know folks who have little to no interest in using it. I suppose they don't see it as an important tool. That's their choice and I respect it but I personally feel should not pass up a chance to set up your own frontage on a highway that zillions of people are on everyday. It's free and can be done with just a bit of extra work.
LB: Never skeptical, but at times unsure how to make something work in a way advantageous to my goals. You don't want to rush into something new and hobble yourself later because you made bad choices early. For example, when MySpace was hot it was far better to have an artist profile then a regular one. It gave you the audio player and other tools you would not see with the usual profile interface. On Facebook, you don't want to limit yourself to a regular personal page as they cap you out at 5000 friends so you really want to have a "fan" page with no limits which also gives you other options like discussion boards and the like. Do a little research before you commit.
CA: Have you ever been worried about putting too much focus on your on-line strategy and perhaps neglecting the on-air product?
LB: Not really. It's all about how you manage your day. There is a time for everything. Set times to work on this stuff and stick to it. If you're on the air and you keep hitting refresh to see if someone commented on your latest Tweet or status update then you're probably a bit distracted which is not advisable.
CA: How much do you use social media sites for show prep or as a testing ground?
LB: Quite a bit. You can test topics out online to gauge interest in a subject. You can float a joke or a comment to see if it works. You can see what other topics are out in the world that you may want to deal with. It's not the be all and end all but it's a damn good way to start your search for solid content.
It's always a pleasure speaking with someone who gets it. Brutus, no doubt, gets digital and uses it to his advantage to extend his on-air product to his on-line fans and followers. A huge thank you to "Radio's Last Hope" for his contributions to today's column. Stay tuned as part two of this chat is on its way.