The Secret To Being Liked
April 5, 2011
On my very first day on the job, the news broke. As I walked into the staff meeting, the room didn't have the feeling of welcoming me as the new young employee who had made his first move away from home; it was much more tense and serious.
As everyone waited anxiously, the Operations Manager stood up and announced that for the first time in the station's 12-year history, it was beaten by a competing station in the latest ratings. Talk about taking the energy out of my moment!
For a lot of stations, this may have been just the ebb and flow of a typical radio ratings war ... but for this team, it was a giant defeat. The station had been #1 since launching the format 12 years earlier, with no one even coming close to really competing against it. It was a brand name in town whose personalities were stars and its sales executives used them and the ratings to generate tremendous revenue.
The problem was that no one had ever expected to be anything except #1 -- and the staff was not prepared to deal with suddenly becoming #2 for the fist time in its history. With the sudden defeat, the station immediately starting finding and talking about all the problems it had with everything from music to the personalities and a sudden flawed strategy.
The energy and confidence of this once-dominant station seemed to be lost and morale was low among the employees. In fact, in a quest to bounce back to #1 in the next ratings, it focused and talked so much about all the outside factors, and only made changes to duplicate the format of its new top competitor. It was a race to get back to par.
This approach quickly made the station start to unravel and really develop major problems. The focus was that if only we could go back to how it was, turn back time, then everything would be okay -- because we know how to be #1.
Well, the ratings didn't bounce back; instead it went even lower again and again and again. By the time it was in really big trouble, the only thing left to do was to fire employees and start fresh with a new management team with different ideas. The station had lost its vision on what had made it #1. It stopped moving forward and evolving because it only wanted to try and turn back the clock to a time that had faded away.
The same could be said about social media. So much of the energy is focused on what's happening outside of the organization, or for many, the hope is that somehow the clock may be turned back again to a better time, if you just wait long enough.
Of course, neither is a strategy for success.
To be first in anything, it requires looking inside to discover that unique benefit that will service others in a way that only you can accomplish. It's not about looking out and saying how important it is to simply be on social sites. It's not about just creating a page or launching an account to start posting articles, videos and random posts. It's about looking in and building a plan to take your voice and personality to others in another way so you connect the emotion to the brand and not just push product.
It starts by not focusing on how to be the most popular page (like those other guys), but leading with a strategy that makes sense for you and the ones you serve. It may never be the top spot for likes or followers, when compared to everyone else, but it will be #1 with the people who matter most and get you for what you really are. The focus will be on your mission and you will never unravel trying to do everything except be yourself.
It will also make more staff meetings less tense and serious, so you can welcome the new guy and let him have his moment.