07/15

Local TV leads the way for Social Media

“Facebook is now the web’s content discovery portal,” writes social TV blog Lost Remote. “The average user spends 6 hours and 36 minutes a month on Facebook, and 50% of Facebook users return daily.”

Consider this alongside the idea that most of what TV produces will be available on the web, too, in short order.  That means, quoting Lost Remote, that “everything TV stations produce and distribute now goes head-to-head with everything else.”

Isn’t this also largely true of radio?

The ways you can hear a radio-like stream of music and the flavors in which that stream can be consumed were once limited to the mass-produced radio we’re all familiar with punctuated by inconvenient and clunky and scarce CD’s or cassettes – we only had what we owned or what radio played.

No more.  Today everything radio produces from a musical perspective goes head-to-head with everything else.  Because, indeed, radio does not produce music, we only distribute it.

This puts a huge priority on the content radio does produce – the stuff that comes between the songs.  And it puts a huge priority on investments in social media so this content can be discovered and shared.  A priority that too few broadcasters yet comprehend.

However, local TV broadcasters are beginning to get this message loud and clear.

Consider some examples:

Cleveland “Fox 8 News” is the largest single Facebook page for a TV station in the country with 165,000 fans.  Lost Remote credits their feature, the “Facebook Friend of the Day.” Fox 8 picks a new Facebook friend every day to feature in a short on-air bumper in the morning show, which is also posted as a screen grab and video online.  Credit also goes to a Facebook campaign called “Save These Faces.” The station promised to donate $2,500 to a Cleveland animal shelter if Fox 8 reached 100,000 fans in a week.  Here’s the video:

The station grew 44,000 fans over that period.

Meanwhile KTVK Phoenix launched a Facebook initiative to donate bottles of water to the Salvation Army as the summer months heat up, and it begins by “Liking” the station on Facebook:

There are examples of TV anchors interacting live online with viewers during commercial breaks.  And examples of reporters who shoot down-and-dirty video newscasts during breaks that are instantly shared across social media.

What do these and other tactics have in common?

  1. They leverage the unique content and talent each station possesses and mashes up that content and talent with social media
  2. They leverage the “megaphone” of local TV to drive attention and usage for things the viewers consider worthwhile in the social space
  3. They recognize the critical importance of blurring the lines between content and marketing
  4. They recognize the critical importance of blurring the lines between TV and the Internet
  5. They see that defending their audience in a world where every bit of content competes for attention with every other bit of content everywhere requires the execution of creative ideas which extend the offerings of the brand across digital platforms in ways that solve consumer problems and motivate viewers to share content with each other
  6. They know that they are idea companies, not simply broadcast ones.  And a premium will be placed on experimenting with more ideas across digital platforms to defend and grow audiences and the advertising dollars connected to them.

It is imperative that radio broadcasters see the digital space not only as an adjunct to their radio brands – not only as a home for their “billboard in cyberspace” (as it used to be quaintly called) – but as the new frontier which is every bit as much of their brand as their over-the-air station.

In the long run, broadcasters must follow the attention of their audiences, wherever that attention leads.

Because advertising dollars will most definitely follow that attention, too.

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