Tuesday, April 6, 2010

LOYD FORD: Social Media a Path for Radio?

What If Social Media Represents A Path For Radio?By Loyd Ford Americalist1@aol.com877-475-6864

It’s cool to catch the social media wave, and you should catch it. However, a lot of broadcasters make the error or either assuming that social media is a big waste of time or that social media is the same as traditional marketing. Neither is true. I guess a lot of people see social media and revenue as different subjects, but I really don’t.Many have so far missed that connectivity to people with social media is something that theycan use to generate additional non-traditional revenue for their business.

After all, we are not the only industry that wants to stay close to the way things have always been done because that is the way we have always created our revenue. You know, go with what you know works. This thinking is understandable. Your average market manager does not think in terms of reinventing the wheel. Theyget rewarded for beating last years’ numbers. How do they do that? The traditional way, of course.When you have the ability to impact a big group of people who are passionate about something, you have power to engage in revenue generating business.

This is a traditional idea that radiounderstands, but we are not really connecting that to new media revenue generation. Yet many in radio are participating in Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social media in name only. They are not building substantial relationships or listening to what listeners are saying about radio or their brand. Not really.While radio still seems to view non-traditional revenue as something you turn on and turn off for success, we should all encourage radio managers to begin to look at new media and social media as a path to turning on continuous non-traditional revenue.

This is a path to additional support for the employees at radio.If you are using Facebook, Twitter and other platforms for your station, I think that is excellent. While it is not a replacement for marketing, we should all be looking at it as many local additional ways to generate more continuous revenue for stations in local markets. We can’t expect broadcastcompanies to support creation of new content for any other reason. At the same time, social media certainly offers powerful connectivity tools that allow listeners to get closer to our brands and feel empowered by engaging those brands.That means that these new tools can offer support to marketing and help you generate revenue for the company you work for today.

Or the company that replaces that company and harnesses the power of local radio again in both new and old ways for profit. Why? Because radio is still verypowerful when used as a local connectivity tool for advertisers. Clients know it works. While radio races to pay debt, there is a strong shift underway in mobile personal entertainment that will jolt radio by impacting listeners’ ride to work and home in the car and their connectivity toother non-traditional choices. This dynamic shift could replace much of traditional radio in the car. That

will develop as a big problem because many of our radio stations have replaced a lot of local talent, local creativity and local connectivity. That was a first and best line of defense against these kinds of intruders on radios’ traditional turf. Many already know that the automobile manufacturers are shifting to give consumers of theirproduct more entertainment choices in their vehicles. These choices are additional sales tools for the auto industry. These choices also – like much of the new world order – focus on giving consumers morepower and choices. This will impact radio. It means more defenses are required to prepare for this shift.I am not saying that social media and new media is “all that.”

People who judge these tools against traditional media are comparing apples and oranges. However, there is a shift taking place andit is likely to speed up over the next 18 – 24 months. We have to find our way back to growing local content and strengthening our hold on local. Social media and new media choices for RADIO certainly should be a tool of connectivity andengagement and a powerful potential source for a new and non-traditional revenue. This is a pivotal moment for our industry and we should be moving to build additional value for our local markets.We have to give ourselves an update that includes the connectivity of social and new mediaalong with the powerful traditional brands radio owns. And the focus has to be adding local value.These local markets are our real markets to continue to win or lose.

Our cool factor has always been local passion. If radio will focus on a new additional model for new media sales and generating continuous non-traditional revenue, we can help radio recapture our power to actually grow.It is my hope that radio will engage new media as an additional revenue generating tool, but I feel passionately that radio must also break the model by establishing a separate sales staff to sell non-traditional and new media products focused on local markets. This is a different business than what your traditional sales people sell. The proper sellers for these products are not likely to look like your radio sales team today.

Other businesses throughout history have faced these same pivot points. Some moved slowlyto change; some moved quickly. Some allowed the business to fade out. What are you prepared to do to open the flow of non-traditional and/or new media revenue generation wide open in your market and protect and grow your stations?

About Loyd Ford:Loyd Ford is the marketing and ratings strategist for Americalist Media Market out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Americalist has been helping radio stations boost ratings consistently since 1987 in all market sizes and all formats. Additionally, Loyd has developed The Magnet Program™ for PPM and FastCUME Tactic™ for Holiday Music Stations along withthe AWEPOP (area wide e-mail pop) for radio clients coast to coast over the last seven years. Loyd has been in the radiobusiness “all of his life” and programmed in some intense programming battles in a variety of formats. He has the experience to
help you in your situation. You can reach out for Loyd by e-mailing him to Americalist1@aol.com or calling him directly at 877-475-6864. You can also join Loyd’s free social media radio group “Social Networking for Radio Stations” only on Facebook. Get your free monthly e-promotion newsletter for ideas on marketing with little or no money by signing up at www.boostmyratings.com.

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