Why Can't Fans Love Your Radio Station?
April 24, 2012
As we know by now, the social space is a new way of communicating. We typically sign up for a social site such as Facebook to keep up with friends and family, and then along the way, we start "Liking" brands. And with brands, we have unconsciously created these expectations that just like how our friends and family acknowledge us our favorite brands will behave the same way.
Fans are almost sure that's why their favorite brands use social –to respond to us - to feed those basic needs of being heard and feeling like we matter (that is offering extraordinary customer service).
But rarely do brands take the time to validate the excitement fans have for their products. It's becoming common practice for companies to acknowledge some of the fans some of the time but many just flat out ignore them altogether. This issue was addressed in "Merge" earlier this year in "Why Do Brands Have Trouble With The A Word?" In that article, Wal-Mart EVP and CMO Stephen Quinn suggested that brands take a more traditional approach with this social space: "[We] need to go back to the old days of having shopkeeper style relationships to ensure local customer support."
A conversation last week reminded me of Quinn's quote. It was with one of one of my oldest friends in the biz, Scott Lindy. (Or perhaps he'd like me to rephrase that as "someone I've known the longest in radio" – he did just have a birthday after all.)
Lindy oversees Lincoln Financial's Star 94 in Atlanta. He and I were preparing for a panel we are on at the Worldwide Radio Summit this week called "Community Brand Building." Under Lindy's leadership, the culture within Star 94 is just as Quinn suggests - fostering fan relationships with a local shopkeeper-type style.
Star 94 has a group of uber fans on Facebook, and rather than avoiding them or make them just talk to each other because the station is "too busy," Lindy embraces their enthusiasm with acknowledgement and encouragement. They are a group of women who have connected with one another through Star 94.
Lindy keeps fans in this social space in perspective for his staff by reminding them that there is no difference between the passion fans have for Star 94 (as shown above) than there is the passion that we all have for other things beyond our radio stations -for example, Lindy's passion for his beloved NFL team.
As he pointed out to me, "It's all the same – but that's what's important to get! As a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, if I ran into (Steelers Head Coach) Mike Tomlin I would be all over it, trying to talk to him and I'm sure he's tired of fans like me. But I'm a fan!" It would crush Lindy if Tomlin ignored, dismissed or was put off by Lindy's excitement and enthusiasm.
Lindy added, "We're all fans of something so why can't our fans love our radio stations as much as we love things? Why are so many brands put off by their fans?" Lindy is ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding this social consumer behavior.
The more people participate in this open and connected world, the more they expect customized experiences when they reach out socially. And when you meet those needs, it's the first step in building a social brand.
It shouldn't be that hard for radio to embark on social brand building. Radio's biggest differentiator from all of the other music platforms available today is community. No other medium captures the depth of radio's relationships with its fans and the sense of community it builds.
So clearly a focus for running a radio station today should be gaining knowledge of how to foster this prime factor.
We've been working behind the scenes here at Jacobs Media on brand advocate programs, and it's evident that building and nurturing social mouthpieces is a great way for radio to go. But it only works if your brand is a social brand – respecting that the social space is their turf and abiding by their rules – no pitches and no pushing, offering acknowledgement and great moments of unexpectedness.
True social brands have permission to be in their fans' social sphere every day. And the upside to learning how to be a social brand is that it will keep your product top-of-mind and in the hands (and the hearts) of fans. They will elevate your messages and/or content to a level you simply cannot do with your stick alone.
But first you have to allow your fans to love your brand and embrace that. Buy into a core philosophical tenet of brand building – every person counts.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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