Welcome To Merge
February 14, 2011
I'm not sure that there's a better way to develop the skills required to create a presence with social and digital platforms than actually being in the trenches, working one-on-one with program directors, on-air personalities, sales managers, marketing consultants, clients, etc.
That's what I've been doing the past couple of years with Midwest Communications, based here in my hometown, Green Bay, WI.
With over 20 years in radio, one of the points of difference between social/digital "strategists" and myself is that I was a jock first! To be a great jock, you're constantly working on the art of one-on-one communication, the element of surprise, companionship, relevancy and stirring emotions, which are skills that are needed to successfully create goals, set parameters for structure, and execute social and digital strategies for any product.
The pinnacle of my on-air career was definitely working with Bubba the Love Sponge on WXTB/Tampa (98ROCK) as Anita Wadd. It was a time radio will (likely) never hear again. As Bubba and I moved on from that station (we Tweet each other from time to time), I became a PD in Baltimore.
The hand I was dealt with the station helped grow skills that would compliment what I do today. My station (WSMJ/104.3) was wedged in between an Urban AC and Mainstream AC. It forced me to dig more into brand behavior/motivation because my ratings were reliant on unrealistic TSL.
What was it going to take to get people to remember that they listen to my station? With Arbitron's methodology, it dawned on all of us ... nothing. Sadly, it was a niche format and five years into the station, there was a collective agreement -- there was not enough sampling to ever save this kind of station.
Moving forward, here I am each day, taking those traditional skill sets and merging them with what's needed today. It requires staying up-to-date on trends in culture and advertising ...and understanding the behavior behind each channel we have to work with to reach our consumers in new, breakthough ways.
One of the most important aspects of embracing these "new" channels is that we don't confuse new with scrapping the old. We simply merge. We apply traditional channels and traditional skills with what's required from the new today.
"Everyone's Doing It"
The first step in creating broader digital/social strategies is to decide why each channel is important for your brand.
Channels (eg: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Texting, Blogs, RSS feeds, etc.) are what we use to reach consumers, build social communities, cultivate relationships and create dialogue around the product ...but not about it.
If your immediate response to jumping on these channels is because "everyone's doing it," you're on to something! In just the past six months, Facebook has grown from 500 million users to 600 million users! YouTube recently announced 700 billion videos viewed in 2010, and Twitter continues its appeal:
Vibes Media released findings that found 300 million users sending over 4 billion texts a day -- an average of 13 texts per user. Almost 65% of mobile users in their 40s and 50s now regularly send texts, while blogging has been described by Emarketer as a "surging channel of communications," predicting blog readers to make up nearly 60% of all U.S. Internet users by the end of this year. (emarketer apr. 2009)
So, while "everyone's doing it" isn't really a strategic response, you're right to say it. These channels have seen incredible growth in a short time, which makes it necessary to tap into the culture of each channel for the overall health of our products and bottom line.
How we do that? Well ... that's where I hope to be of assistance and help you build upon your current success, pave the way to your goals ... as we merge your skill sets.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
Please enjoy MERGE archives here.