Social Media Strategies
September 11, 2012
The Branding Bonus
Social networks and the vast array of other social media sites have changed forever how people seek out and find their entertainment. Although for most, entertainment usually comes down to their favorite songs or artists, there are some who like talk and other non-musical forms. Portability, social features and music provide a sea of opportunity that inspires hardware and software alike, including a recent explosion of online and mobile apps to satisfy everyone's tastes. Whether on their computer, phone, in the car, or on Facebook, there are innumerable ways to consume your favorite tunes or discover new ones that show your artist-discovery mastery.
While the opportunities are nothing short of staggering, if you're new to social media, it's easy to become overwhelmed by all the options, so don't try to take on too much at once. In this exploding social industry, everyone is a perpetual student. Smart programmers will remember the three words that can make you a success -- confidence, persistence and execution. Keep in mind social media provides effective unprecedented ways for individual stations to build personal brands.
Now, let's take a quick look at branding and explain a little of why it's so important. In the late 1990s, social psychologist and marketer Dr. Jennifer Aaker studied hundreds of personality traits often associated with brands. While psychologists often refer to a "Big Five" list of personality traits, Aaker wanted to know if the personality traits that people ascribe to brands could be similarly classified. In her study, "Dimensions Of Brand Personality," she did just that. She broadly identified five brand traits: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Each of those five traits, she established, has multiple facets, each of which, in turn, encompass several character traits. Aaken then used those attributes as a means for scaling and testing how brands fit into those perceptions. The results of her studies changed the way we think about and using branding.
The notion of re-branding a station ... changing its look, sound and feel ... strikes terror in the hearts of most GMs and PDs. That's often because within the industry, re-branding is taken as a sign of failure. The belief is that only failed stations re-brand; successful ones don't.
Unfortunately, radio has it wrong. Every station should re-brand itself periodically. Ideally your station will re-brand even when everything seems to be going well. Making these re-branding changes shows listeners your station is confident and willing to change. It shows boldness.
Now that you've got a better vision and feel for branding goals, it's still important to also have a well-defined brand voice and to identify the dozens of micro-segments of people with whom you'd like to engage. The next step is to research and discover where those people are online and possibly join their communities. Urban radio must do this and it must embrace change - not just the process of doing things differently, but also understanding the rapid pace at which social technologies evolve.
Music has captured the human imagination for decades. Like a tuning fork, it can create a resonance with the listeners if conditions are right. Music possesses the timeless ability to capture the truth of our existence, even in cases when language and format choices fail at the same endeavor. The way in which we seek out and discover music, however, whether socially or in solitude, is in the midst of a significant shift.
Radio is being challenged like never before by an ever evolving array of media choices. Pandora, a streaming music service that allows listeners to create their own radio station based on an artist or a song they like, pioneered a major revolution in how many people find and appreciate music. Musicians themselves played a central role in the inception of Pandora by partnering with what the company calls "music-loving technologies." They developed an initiative which defined and catalogued each attribute found in music. Conceptualizing this work as being akin to sequencing DNA they named it "the human genome project." This approach is at the core of how Pandora provides detailed recommendations on new artists when listeners create a personalized radio station.
Then there's Spotify; a company that has encountered complaints about its business practices in two key areas: privacy or user's data and compensation for artists. Spotify has been criticized for a lack of transparency about how it and Facebook are using the data they encourage listeners to share. Several musicians questioned Spotify's own community site and expressed deep mistrust about the software's sharing-centric orientation.
Our listeners are still navigating the landscape of all online music services; trying to make sure the economics make it worth their while and their time to share their creative efforts.
Gaming And Resistance
In the struggling, saturated, modern-day radio market, even seasoned veterans have spent the last decade trying to answer the question: Where have all the consumers gone? Many of them are playing social video games. A recent study shows that many African-Americans are really into gaming. So why is it that more Urban radio stations aren't tapping into the exploding medium? Because they don't know it or if they did, they just dismissed it as a passing fad.
The fact is that 65% of all gamers, from casual to hardcore players, play daily without fail. And they listen to music while they're playing. They could be listening to radio - your station. And they could be wearing a meter or keeping a diary. Social games are changing the face of almost every industry. It's part of the social renaissance. Hundreds of Fortune 500 brands have already jumped on board, rabid for the dollars and listeners behind every computer screen, every mobile device and every cell phone.
All social media projects should begin with a clear understanding of desired outcomes. I use this particular phrase inherited from the medical and education worlds, as it encompasses not just goals and objectives, but visions and metrics, as well. If your station or company's leadership has provided you with a clear vision, then you're a step ahead. It will be your job to create a goal, to identify the objectives you'll need to achieve on the way to that goal and finally, to define the specific measurables that will demonstrate whether and how you're meeting those objectives. Along the way, you're likely to run into some resistance.
One of the toughest challenges facing programmers today is resistance. Resistance can come in all forms and from anywhere -- venture capitalists, media outlets, business partners, friends and even family. Experiencing significant resistance can lead to a rollercoaster ride of emotions while you are attempting to achieve your desired goals and aspirations.
Today's programmers must not let someone else tell them how the future is going to be, especially if they still have a "this is how it has always been done in the past" mentality. No matter what, people will always cast doubt and criticism on your ideas, but do not let all the resistance and negativity deter your ultimate vision. Remember, you don't lose if you get knocked down. You lose if you stay down.