Confessions Of A Social Media Strategist
January 28, 2013
Anytime I hear about a station flip, I get excited. I wonder what the station will do socially to help them stand out, how they approach the debut on various platforms, and what radio can learn from the experience.
But what happened last Monday when Nash FM in New York signed on surprised me. There was a lot of industry hype in the trades for several days and speculation about the format. But when I checked them out at sign-on, I couldn't help but conclude they got caught with their "social pants" down.
To me, it was a loud cry that this social space is still not fully understood or accounted for – even when new stations launch in major markets.
Because what happened to Nash FM could have happened to any new station.
Please note that what I am about to share with you is not about showcasing failure or is to make anybody look bad. In fact, we were initially going to keep this story to ourselves. But we thought it turned out to be a cautionary tale for station debuts of the future.
Last Monday morning after the launch, I looked up NASHFM947.com online just to check out their social assets and their strategy/approach.
They had a Facebook icon and a Twitter icon displayed right there on the homepage of their website.
When I clicked the Facebook icon, however, I got this:
So I moved on to Twitter, and when I clicked that icon, this popped up:
When I couldn't access the NASHFM947 Twitter handle displayed on the website, I assumed it was some sort of coding issue on the back end. So I went to Twitter.com directly and searched for the handle they had displayed: NASHFM947.
I still couldn't find it. Could it be the account hadn't even been created?
To find out, I went to Twitter's sign-up page anyway to act like I was going to create the @NASHFM947 handle. I really thought that this is where Twitter would inform me that name was already taken and there would just be some weird technical glitch for not being able to find it in search.
But when Twitter gave me the green light to create the account – that is, @NashFM947 was available – the same handle that is displayed on that radio station's website – I just shook my head. They never secured the Twitter handle they planned to use (and were promoting?)
So I grabbed it.
Think about the damage a competitor could have done with this.
Social Media needs to be trained like any other common core weapon system. It should be part of every station's strategic arsenal, especially a new station.
A typical fan's digital behavior is to simply search for a station within their preferred platform.
And that's what happened. People who tuned in the new station who are on Twitter immediately searched "NASH FM 947" in Twitter's search bar and landed on my fake account.
And here's what's key – they didn't even pay attention to how I described it:
The fans were just excited that this brand new radio station was on their favorite platform (Twitter) and what a rush that they could tweet this station in their moment of discovery.
As I watched fans find this account organically – and continued to choose to follow this fake account over the real NASH FM account that was finally created (@NASHFM947NY,) I deleted mine.
It was too creepy and scary to think that just anyone could have truly created chaos.
But, as a brand – you must know that it's not just a casual observer like me that can hijack the social handles you plan to use – there are also squatters jumping on these social sites everyday creating headaches.
For example, when I searched the word NASHFM on Twitter, there are now other accounts that have been created in anticipation of a NASH coming to their town:
I don't know the back story of how what happened, happened – but I can tell you that Nash FM is not alone.
There's a pattern here. Too often in radio, the art of social media is pawned off to someone at the station who is deemed to have "social media knowledge" – you know, the person who always seems to be on Facebook. The thinking is that, they must know and understand the space so we'll let them handle it.
But that's like hiring a PD based on the fact the she listens to music all the time. It is no indicator of talent or strategic thinking. Not everyone has the sophistication, maturity, and common sense needed when launching and/or speaking in a brand's singular voice.
Rick Webb, investor, co-founder and former COO of The Barbarian Group, put it best when he spoke last year on the need for real thinkers in the social space.
"Believe it or not, there are people out there actually figuring out some really complicated [beep!] for companies who need to radically transform their ways to deal with social media and this new world of constant two-way communication."
You no longer can simply sign-on a station based on the skill of your programmer and consultant. There's more to launching a new brand than a fancy presentation for the sales department.
It looks like Nash FM will very likely be a successful venture. And this may be "just one of those things."
No one's perfect. This could have happened to any station. But in radio, it happens more than you think.
There needs to be a solid, accountable social media strategy.
It's a new day.
Reach out to me on Twitter @lorilewis.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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