Well known Radio industry publication Inside Radio, like many smart radio stations, has discovered the importance of social media and web presence for radio stations. They were kind enough to interview me for their May 7th edition.
Extending station brands with social media has moved up on programmers’ priority list. Nearly half of Americans now have social networking profiles, up from 24% just two years ago according to Arbitron and Edison Research. Though usage is highest among 12-24s (78%), the biggest growth in social media has been in the 25-34 cell, which grew to 65% in 2010. A new study from Nielsen shows Facebook experienced a 69% year-over-year gain in unique users in the U.S. while Twitter rose 45%. Jacobs Media’s 2010 Tech Poll of rock listeners reports eight in ten respondents have a profile on a site like Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn. As social media growth mushrooms, updating station MySpace pages and Twitter accounts is taking on greater importance among programmers. Air talent are increasingly expected to have their own station Twitter account and Facebook page and post to them multiple times a day — and reply to tweets people are making about topics in the station’s wheelhouse. Personalities used to encourage listeners to call the station to comment on something being discussed on the air. Now they’re more likely to say, “Hit me up on Twitter.” Air talent keeps the microblogging service open on an air studio computer to view and reference listener comments and song requests in real-time. Jocks talk about the funniest tweet or Facebook post. Pollack Media Group VP of digital Pat Welsh advises client stations to “make it a requirement that air talent get into the habit of participating. It’s how people communicate in the real world.” In addition to populating the Facebook pages of hot AC “Y-98” KYKY and AC “Soft Rock 102.5” KEZK with fresh content, CBS Radio-St. Louis director of programming Mark Edwards monitors social media traffic figures and watches which posts get re-tweeted. Entercom-Indianapolis director of programming & operations Scott Sands says he tweets throughout the day and makes sure his airstaff is posting whenever something newsworthy breaks. Smartphone applications enable posting and managing social networking profiles on the go. “You’ve got to have constant content up there everyday,” Sands says. “It’s something everybody should be doing these days.”Stations turn to Twitter and Facebook to drive appointment listening. Thirty minutes before Jenna Elfman appeared on “The Smiley Morning Show,” Z-99.5 WZPL, Indianapolis sent out a tweet to encourage listeners to tune in to hear the actress talk about the season finale of her CBS-TV sitcom “Accidentally on Purpose.” Like a growing number of stations, the Entercom hot AC uses social media to promote guest appearances, ticket giveaways, new song premieres, major concert announcements and other tune-ins. As Indianapolis broadcasters prepare to transition to metered ratings next month, Entercom’s Scott Sands says social media sites can be effective tools to increase listening occasions. “If they happen to see it online, you’ve given them an immediate reason to tune in for an extra five minutes,” he says. “That’s the way to win the people meter game.” CBS Radio hot AC “Y98” KYKY, St. Louis populates its Facebook wall with abridged content from the station’s web site. Facebook members who “like” the station — which number 2,737 — see that content in their live news feed when they log into their own Facebook accounts. “We know people can’t listen to the radio station 24 hours a day so we make things available through different platforms, whether video or audio,” CBS Radio-St. Louis director of programming Mark Edwards says. Broadcasters are also using social media to drive traffic back to their web sites. When the Indianapolis Colts 2010 schedule was announced, WZPL used social media to direct listeners to the station site to view the schedule. “You can’t put everything up, just the big stuff,” Edwards says. “We’re very respectful of people’s lives and don’t want to waste their time. There has to be a listener benefit.” Sands says posting three times a day for each show and about five times a day for the station as a whole is a good rule of thumb. “Radio is going to become an octopus with a million tentacles with many different ways to communicate with listeners,” Edwards says. “Facebook and Twitter are just two of them.”
For air talent, social media is the beginning of the “after-show.” With personalities streamlining on-air raps to adapt to PPM measurement, social media offers another vehicle to express themselves unencumbered. “The air talent should be encouraged to use these tools to showcase their personality in a more open way that they can do on the air,” Pollack Media Group VP of digital Pat Welsh says. WZPL, Indianapolis morning man Dave Smiley uses social media to continue the conversation with listeners after he gets off the air. “He tweets and is on Facebook all day and uploads pictures from his iPhone,” Entercom-Indianapolis director of programming & operations Scott Sands says. While the station posts pop culture news on its Facebook wall, Sands says it gets more reaction to personal posts. “It’s the personal insights, the post from our real lives that get the most response. It’s a way for listeners to get insights into our talent’s lives, which builds touch points toward that ever elusive bond.” At CBS Radio’s St. Louis FMs, all air talent have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. “We’re using these media, along with our blogging and station web site platforms, to do things we can’t do on the radio because they’re visual or too complicated or too long,” director of programming Mark Edwards says. “Facebook makes it easy to add content by using applications,” Sands says. “You can pull all your tweets into Facebook automatically, post polls, audio, video and photos. It’s a very robust tool for interacting and sharing content.”
Copyright 2010 Inside Radio. Used by Permission