Make Your Station Brand A Social Success

In Radio it’s not a matter of IF your brand should be social but how social your brand is and what platforms are the right platforms to be on. For the most part each format has a different target audience and that target audience may prefer one social platform over another.

For example a Talk Radio station is geared toward adults. Robert Unmacht who ran the Radio Book for Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) for 15 years says that “Men between the ages of 45 and 54” are the main demographic for this format. On the flip side a format like Top 40 or CHR as it’s also known is programmed for a demographic of 18- 34 year olds according to Unmacht.

Research by Business Insider at the end of 2014 indicated that while Facebook is still the most used social platform for Teens, Instagram has more prestige among that age group. Facebook also is used more be females than males according to the report. However Business Insider says that Twitter is being used by males and according to Pew found that 22% of men use Twitter, while only 15% of women do.

Facebook user breakdown from BusinessInsider.com
Facebook user breakdown from BusinessInsider.com

So with all this in mind what do you do if you’re the Program Director or Brand Manager of a radio station and you want to take your brand social? First you have to figure out your target audience and find out where they want to be communicated with. You also need to figure out HOW they want to be communicated with. Chances are… they don’t want another long wordy post on Facebook about the latest and greatest contest that you’re running or a promotion that your clients are doing. Your listeners want content that is local and relevant to them. I believe that.

As on-air personalities we need to take our unique position as someone who is (hopefully) part of someone’s almost daily life and relate information to them and connect on a one on one level. That being said you also have to be mindful to not fly off the handle and damage our brand and the brand of our station because the penalties can be severe. Radio host Anthony Cumia of the Sirius XM “Opie & Anthony Show” was fired after one such twitter tirade (His comments are NSFW).

Jacob Media Digital & Social Strategist Lori Lewis says it best “Bottom line: Social is an opportunity to show your brand’s soul and make the audience feel like they matter. Otherwise, you’re just a commodity in the social space, something we can all get anywhere else.” You always have to be “on” when interaction on social media even after your show is off the air. So the question is what will you do to show your brand’s soul?

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iHeartRadio Revolution

The iHeartRadio App is the radio/ streaming service app from iHeart Media formally Clear Channel Communications. As described on the iHeartMedia web site “iHeartRadio is a free, all-in-one digital music service that gives users instant access to thousands of live radio stations from across the country and the ability to create commercial-free, custom music stations featuring songs from their favorite artist and similar music”.

A screen shot of the iHeartRadio app from bestvendor.com
A screen shot of the iHeartRadio app from bestvendor.com

This app truly revolutionized what a radio station mobile app could and should be. It provides access to all of the iHeartMedia radio stations across the country at the touch of a finger. The app was so successful and the branding of the product was so successful that Clear Channel Media has rebranded its company after the product and is now iHeartMedia. In a letter to investors iHeartMedia said “On Sept. 16, 2014, we announced the exciting news that we have become iHeartMedia, Inc. — reflecting our commitment to programming live content and entertainment across all media platforms. This name change is for branding purposes only.”

It’s one of the most successful social apps in history “iHeartRadio reached 20 million registered users, a milestone reached in only 13 months — faster than all other popular entertainment and communication platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Spotify and Instagram.”

I think what make it successful is the variety it offers and it also is interactive and fans can use it to vote on songs they like and even for the iHeartRadio awards. The success of the app is measured in downloads and the number of active users that the app enjoys.

The challenge that radio stations and media companies in general are facing is that if you’re not an iHeartRadio station or affiliated with the app how do you compete with it? The key is to be user friendly and interactive and try to localize your content. The station I work at is using the commotion app that allows people to stream the radio station as well as message within the app.

The most important thing in mobile and social apps is to adapt. What are things that you’d like to see in a radio mobile app?

Let’s get digital: Social Media in the Radio World

The current state of social media in the radio world is one that is constantly evolving. Radio stations are faced with the challenge of connecting with their listening audiences in a way that is drastically different than the way they approach that connection over the air. While radio stations are used to strategically planning every aspect of what happens on the air, social networking for most radio stations and radio personalities is a new frontier.

Jacobs Media Digital and Social Media Strategist Lori Lewis says that “Understanding what it takes to build and sustain an active social fan base is critical to broadcast radio, as the social space grows and becomes an even bigger part of people’s lives.” I’d have to agree with this statement but the question from almost every air talent I’ve talked to is “ok…but how?”

The social world give stations the opportunity to expand their brand from the airwaves to into the digital platform but in many respects the audience they hope to reach doesn’t translate to the different platforms. As Joan Mancuso and Karen Stuth of Marketing Insights point out that if your company is targeting the 18-34 year old demo you may be missing out “on a key social media demographic group: seniors. People over the age of 65 are the fastest growing demographic group on social media, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.” So stations are faced with trying target their posts to either the core demo or push it toward the “social friendly” senior demo.

So how do we do it? Right now many radio stations and personalities (myself included) are quite simply missing the mark. Lori Lewis explained in an article for AllAccess.com that “Twitter, for example, beyond the real time news and information that’s shared every day — has humor and snark, a playfulness that transpires on this platform. Yet, all too often when a media brand gets traction on Twitter and starts trending, it’s typically frivolous, self-indulgent, forgettable contesting.” Stations need to interact with their fans and get them talking about your brand. A great way to do this is by creating memorable moments and making their fans feel like they have a voice and they matter. Are you going to be at a concert? Make it a social event. Find out where your listeners are and go say hi. Pay attention to what they’re talking about and get involved in the conversation. Every little bit helps.

Nash-FM_Lee-Brice-Fan

Source: Lori Lewis “The Holy Crap Metric”

As an air talent we’re geared toward the quality of our breaks, the tease of an upcoming story, the latest and greatest contest and often times the social post comes secondary. We need to put in the effort to plan a post as well as we do our on air components. Using a site like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule your posts ahead of time are helpful. I’ve found that doing this has helped our staff be able to have better quality posts on our personal pages as well as on the company accounts. In the end you don’t want to have passive users of social media you want them to be engaged and to share your content.

The struggle still exists with some platforms though. The new restrictions on Facebook and who will see what from business pages makes it very important for your content to be worth the listener to share it. Facebook explained their decision to change how posts are displayed in news feeds by sayingPeople told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content. We dug further into the data to better understand this feedback. What we discovered is that a lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from Pages they like, rather than ads.” This means stations have to either get the views “organically” or promote the posts which can be costly and generally not in your stations budget.

One of the best quotes I’ve seen about engaging your audience is from Mark Ramsey You do it by creating unique and compelling content and atomizing the best of that content across social platforms.” If it’s well thought out, compelling and not just something slapped together I think it has the ability to engage our listeners and in the end it will show up by creating a stronger brand and hopefully in the ever important ratings book!

HootModo: Social Media Management

Social Media Management at first glance can seem like a complicated mess of apps and having to copy and paste your posts from one platform to the next. This is especially difficult if you work in the radio industry and you’re trying to do all of this and host your air shift and the same time. Thankfully there is an easier way to get the most of out the time you have to make those posts on social media.

Pagemodo & Hootsuite are social media management platforms that are mostly a one stop shop for managing almost all of your social accounts from one place. These programs let you enter the content you wish to post and select which account it needs to post on all from their home screens. They also offer a free and paid version of their apps so they are an inexpensive way to stay on top of your social media without have to constantly copy and paste the content you wish to share on multiple accounts.

There are of course pros & cons with each system. As Ian Anderson Gray of IAG.me points out Hootsuite helps “you keep track and manage your many social network channels. It can enable you to monitor what people are saying about your brand and help you respond instantly. You can view streams from multiple networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and post updates or reply directly.” It allows you to have a team of people easily work on your social media within the platform. A feature that I really like is that it has a space for draft messages that can store message for you that come in handy when you’re responding to frequently asked questions. Another really important feature is that it lets you schedule posts to send at a later date so your business can be constantly in front of clients without having to be at your computer all hours of the day.

Hootsuite though does have some draw backs including not having the ability to design your facebook page and have custom tabs added to your page. Social Media Trainer Sara Cole says, Pagemodo offers something that Hootsuite does not saying that Pagemodo “provides templates and ideas for content creation. Very helpful. Also, has the ability to enlarge photos for Facebook”. Which can be very helpful if you’re stuck in a rut and just don’t know what to post that day! Ian Anderson Gray also mentions that if you want the ability to add custom short URL’s for the page (something bitly does for free) you’ll have to pay to do that in Hootsuite.

Pagemodo does offer some cool features to their platform like the ability to make custom headers for your Facebook page right from the site. It has a number of different templates that can be used as well that you upload your own content to.

A draw back to Pagemodo is that it is a Facebook only application. If you have a Twitter and or Google+ account, you won’t be able to manage these accounts from the same screen like you would be able to do with Hootsuite and would have to utilize another platform like TweetDeck.

One feature that I would like to see both platforms add is the ability to manage Instagram. If you’re balancing a business and a personal Instagram, it can be time consuming to keep logging in and out of the account on your phone. The Instagram app itself doesn’t have a feature to switch between accounts like Twitter does and it would be a huge help to upload photos via Hootsuite or Pagemodo.

Overall I like both apps and actually have used them both to manage social platforms. It really comes down to your personal preference and how many pages you’re trying to manage. You may need to purchase the upgrades and that can be expensive. But if you find the one that fits your needs it will save you tons of time in the end.