Spray And Pray Is Not Social (reprint)
March 6, 2012
Reprinted from January 3, 2011
I was recently talking to a Program Director about social media when the question was posed, "How does any of this build cume for us?"
Many radio stations have asked this question to partners and social media "experts" lately. The buzz around the medium has just about everyone exploring ways to add this powerful communication tool to the marketing mix to help grow ratings ... but I believe this approach is thinking about things in the wrong way.
Because social is not just another platform to "spray and pray" a message or promotion -- and expect to get advertising results.
Even more surprising is that out of every industry on the planet, radio should understand this better than anyone!
The job of social media is to create a conversation, not just spread a marketing message far and wide. The goal is to get your audience to talk with you, not for them to volunteer to be talked at on yet another platform.
It's a critical difference in strategy that will make a difference between your messages becoming just another interruption to ignore, or a welcome moment that offers (as Seth Godin said so well) a chance of recognition, the thrill of possibility or the chemical high of anticipation.
An approach that radio has thrived with for decades is to be a personal medium, which connects 1-to-1, but touches so many through dynamic content that it builds chatter, interaction, conversation and feedback. And most stations still do this very well.
It all begins with building a strategy for your brand that has a clear understanding of the following:
- Look at social sites the same as programming an individual radio station. You wouldn't simply deliver identical content as everyone else and expect it to be successful. Stations are successful because of the personality, stationality and what happens between the music and news headlines. Social needs to have a programming focus to succeed.
- What resources can you dedicate to the effort? Are the social sites just another task on someone's to-do list each day to push out whatever is happening on the station or with the promotions department? To really succeed, you need to dedicate someone who understands how to listen, write well, answer questions and handle what I call the 6th daypart and be the social face of your brand. It is essentially hiring another personality who is a pro at entertaining, informing and connecting the audience to your brand.
- By listening, have you discovered where your audience spends their time online? What are the techno-graphics of your target -- more joiners, critics or what? What information do they find most useful and interesting? And what gets them to respond? Are you giving them an experience that creates more time or occasions spent with you and the fear of missing something when they don't follow?
- You've heard it over and over, but content is key! Just like an on-air personality, you need to do prep each day, be personable, and think about how the content will spark conversations in your own unique way. What is topical, relatable, real, relevant, and can be balanced against the brand to connect with the audience?
- Are your on-air, on-line and on-the-street efforts integrated in such a way that you are weaving a consistent thread through all touch points? You need to have a clear Purpose at the center of your touch universe (a clear, singular focus); your Project is the content (video, text, audio, research, etc); and Connection is where all conversations will take place, using a consistent but specialized message for each landing.
- Think about social media just like a radio station -- it's always on. You have to plan to maximize drive-time hours with people and content, determine what can be recycled, introduce new campaigns on the heaviest traffic day, use hit content to help introduce new elements, and always cross-promote efforts online and off.
- Remember the 80/20 rule, but do it this way: 80% of your interactions should be conversational vs. 20% featuring self-promotion.
- And finally ... always keep testing, absorbing, learning and re-directing as new information comes in.
Social media can build cume for a station when given time and if done correctly. But you have to stop thinking of it as a marketing campaign, and begin programming it to connect with the audience and offer them access like never before. This direction will build the right relationships that will help you grow to a whole new rank that won't simply be about the ratings.