Don't Die On The Weekend - Part Two
February 14, 2012
The passing of Whitney Houston is tragic for many fans – perhaps more so for those of us who are Whitney’s generation – where much of her music became the soundtracks of our lives. Many people hear a Whitney song today and immediately go back in time – some songs have the power to resurface life’s pains, and many songs remain empowering.
Perhaps Whitney hasn’t been a staple to the music industry and to radio for a decade or so, but to underestimate the impact she’s had on a generation of radio listeners was lost opportunity.
When the news broke that Whitney died, it was a moment for radio to go beyond the airwaves and build on its digital and social value by sharing unique, human sides of this tragic tale with stories, pictures and video that elicits real-life emotion, feelings and dialogue - the type of activity that comforts fans and bonds them to the source that brought them together.
But the only way to show you’re present and connected at these crucial times is to literally be there. This past weekend was a stark reminder about how these digital and social platforms are still deeply misunderstood.
While the identities below have been blocked – here are just two examples that represent how much of radio communicated Whitney’s untimely death socially:
You can’t just post someone has died and not engage with your audience when they ask why. It’s like walking into a party and yelling, “Whitney Houston died” and then leaving the room. You don’t think you’ve just left people speechless, breathless and desperately wanting to ask questions and talk about this?
Being social is making the commitment to have that conversation – especially if you’re going to shout out an icon has passed. As seen in the examples above, when you leave listeners to fetch their own information or to seek out someone else to talk this through, you chip away at your brands social value (and even website metrics.)
Beyond the social efforts – the web efforts for Whitney had that “slider one” mentality.
Rather than dedicating time, space and care to the death of an icon, the news of Whitney’s death was competing with all kinds of messages rotating on radio station websites Saturday night such as, “Chances to win Train tickets,” “It’s an 80’s weekend,” and “Like us on Facebook.”
It was the saddest experience to sweep “Whitney cume” radio station websites and not see the same type treatment that Rolling Stone gave her:
Whitney was front and center – and as you can see, the site spoke in a singular voice – not random promotions, features, and other minutia. They just took the time and care to honor Whitney, even though her passing occurred over the weekend.
There were some station personalities that blogged about Whitney’s death – but mainly just the facts or what their favorite memory is, minus content that was unique enough to generate the amplitude of discussion and connection needed to make an impact on station communities.
Was this lack of care and treatment of the Whitney content and conversation because it was a Saturday night? That reminds me of a blog Fred Jacobs wrote last year called “Don’t Die On The Weekend.”
Fred addressed how radio stations (and even Pandora for that sake) were either not able – or didn’t bother – to make the necessary website content changes when Clarence Clemons died “over the weekend” last June.
Fred writes, “For local radio, this was a chance to reflect a momentous and sad moment in rock history. But because it was the weekend, web efforts were often pathetically dated and out of touch.”
Maybe this deficiency of service is due to the reality that radio clocks out for the weekends. But it really speaks to a larger problem in our industry – the void of any strategy and purpose to this digital and social space.
Random acts of social and doing digital “on the fly” misses the purpose of these platforms; to serve the relationships the radio station builds.
It’s about being in the moment, the treatment of the content and the amplitude of discussion it can spur. It’s about drawing from your audiences’ experiences, (not yours) and stirring up passionate responses and speaking in a singular voice.
"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy" –Whitney Houston
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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