Is Social Media a Bust for Radio?

Here are the results of an unscientific and thus unrepresentative (but still revealing) poll from Inside Radio:

Half say social networks a revenue-building bust. Facebook is fun and Twitter is a 140-character soapbox but when it comes to making money or contacts, half of Inside Radio readers say social networks haven’t done a thing to advance their career or promote their station. One person tells us, “Social networks, however necessary to what we now do, are an incredible time-waster.” Lots of people said that while they’re on it, they’re not really sure why — or whether it’s doing much good. One person even told us, “I plan to take down my station’s presence on Facebook.”

Interesting, because I wasn’t aware that the purpose of social media was to advance the career of broadcasters or line our pockets. Was that in Facebook’s mission statement, because if so, I missed it.

Social media is about dynamic, efficient, and meaningful connection between 800 million consumers worldwide (and that’s just Facebook).  And it is about brands making the strategic decision to position themselves in that river of activity and interest because their alternative is to be stuck on the shore.

Obviously, half of the respondents to this poll figured that out.  Half figured out that being present in social media is the beginning. But only by having a strategy once you’re there can you achieve your goals and make your presence there worthwhile.

Just launching a page and dropping in some stray posts is not the same as having a social media strategy, and that’s exactly what too many stations do. In fact, if you’re wasting your time on social media then you are reflecting by your behavior that you don’t have a strategy there.  It’s the difference between shopping for a particular item and browsing the stores.

Stop browsing.

In my television work I can tell you that the networks are keenly aware of the value of social media and much time and effort is invested in leveraging that viewer attention along the pathways viewers want to provide it.

What does TV know that half of the respondents in this poll don’t know?

Look at the massive integration of Facebook into Clear Channel’s IHeartRadio. What does Clear Channel know that half of the respondents in this poll don’t know?

I would be willing to bet that the broadcaster who wants to yank his station’s Facebook presence doesn’t have much of one to begin with.  Nor has he ever sat down and answered the key questions all of us should answer before going down the social media path:

  1. Why am I participating in social media?  What is my strategy?
  2. What are my goals, and are these goals reasonable?
  3. How can I measure my success?
  4. What tactics will I employ to achieve these goals?

Anyone who expects money or career success to sprinkle down upon them from Heaven simply because they sign up for Facebook and Twitter should think again.

Social media is powered by people and their tools.  Like a hammer, you can use these tools with the skill of a professional or you can bang your thumb instead of the nail.

So is that the hammer’s fault?

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  • Phil Manning

    As you mentioned to me yesterday, PPM is not fan-friendly. However Social Media if strategized correctly for music stations can be very fan-centric. Forget trying to change people’s habits by trying to drive appointments via social. I’m gonna listen when I listen. Develop a relationship with me, get to me know and then feed me what I give you permission to feed me. If I were running a station, I would literally claim Spotify as my invention and produce playlists out the ying yang that tailor to each listeners specific music desires. If you like gay polka, here’s a playlist. Then next week, I’ll do a meet up with gay polka fans at a sponsored bar. Radio gets an F- in database manipulation. Oh I gotta go, my local station just tweeted me to listen to win a $5 gift certificate. Bye!

  • Only some do. I don’t want to over-generalize!

  • Jim Morrison

    Suggestion to bean counters: Definately consider the ROI before bailing out…….. ROI as in the Risk Of Ignoring Social Media.

  • Radiosalesguy

    Here’s a social media / radio success story AND it’s monetized…Last weekend, a client of ours booked a remote where the personality was up in a crane raising money for charity.  $5 per remote car starter sold went to a local charity.  This annual event with a live remote was supported by Twitter and Facebook.  The personality in the crane, a promo assistant, the client and I all participated in the social media angle of the event by sending live updates and great pictures.  Everything from crane shots, pictures of people on site at the BBQ, even Dad hoisting a 5 year old kid making his $5 donation to the glass charity box were sent over 36 Tweets.  $1150 was raised toward charity.  Divide that by $5 to figure out how many car starters were sold.  Social Media is best utilized in tandem with an overall multi- media strategy.  1. Create the strategy  2.  Employ the mediums that make sense based on the nature of the event  3.  Set realistic expectations  4.  Monitor the progress 5.  Learn from the experience  6.  Repeat the Process.  Please don’t say Social Media doesn’t work.  Use the right tool to do the right job and always be open to Learn. 

  • Ha! Thanks Jim.

  • The problem is, so many stations don’t put in the time to come up with a strategy. Have you seen the posts that they leave on Facebook and Twitter? Most program directors I talk to know the on air talent don’t want to use type (they always have to put their name at the end. Hopefully they embrace some of the new things that allow them to use their VOICE.  http://songrequestline.com/ does and it’s free for stations.   

  • Radio could learn a lot from TV’s dramatically different posture towards social media 


    (nutshell – TV views it as another screen to program to deepen engagement with fans)  

    their level of sophistication is obviously well beyond radio’s penchant for dumping social media tasks on interns.

  • When I read your article I think of a backyard party… with heritage media as the kid who’s spraying everyone with a garden hose, while social media are the people having a water balloon fight.

  • I’m just kidding around!  But it is a shame.  I still wonder who was polled, what “formats” they come from, and what their overall strategy (if any) was. 

  • Dave Presher

    Not only has TV taken a better direction, it is in my opinion one of the Radio Industries biggest long term errors.  Having worked for most of my career in Senior Management in Radio or TV, it wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I started to foucs on Digital.  I have always seen the advantadge of using Traditional/Digital/Social Media.  Now I think a great Social Media plan grows radio and non tradtional revenues, I think Radio’s targeted medium could actually turn a combination of Social and Digital into a bigger revenue stream than spot within 3-5 years.  My company Involution Digital, http://www.involutiondigital.com specializes in helping industies use Traditional/Digital/Social media.  We have has some fantastic success in Radio.  Realistically though we foucs on other entertainment mediums because they “get it” and radio usually doesn’t.

  • I’d be interested to hear more about what you do, Dave. Give me a call next week if you can. 8584856372.

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