If you're like me, you've had it up to here with the political environment – especially on Facebook. Rants, raves, anger, and indignation about governing and those who govern often overshadow anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, and funny cat memes.
But now a new Pew Research study confirms a convenient truth – the opinionated have rabid followers – and more of them. Pew tracked the most conservative and most liberal members of Congress and discovered the more extreme the legislator, the more Facebook followers they typically have.
Pew isn't exactly sure why this is the case, but their analysis notes these edgier lawmakers were more apt to disagree on a variety of political issues, eliciting more online engagement. Moderates, on the other hand, are less likely to have large Facebook fan bases.
So, what does this tell us about radio and media personalities and their ability to engage audiences and win over social media followings?
1. Stand for something
Personalities with a definable point of view have a decided advantage over those who are vanilla. In his terrestrial days, research showed Howard Stern (and others like him) had plenty of “9s” but no shortage of “1s.” You can't make everyone happy, so take a position.
2. Express an opinion
It's important to put it out there – at the right time and in the proper context. Sometimes personalities are so intent on not offending, they miss a moment that reflects the audience's point of view. Of course, it helps to instinctively know your listener base and what they're likely thinking, as well as the sensibilities of your market.
3. Put it out there on social media
Radio personalities of today have an advantage over those from just a decade ago. In the social space, DJs, shows, and hosts have an important online megaphone. It's a chance to share everything, whether its opinions, personal connections, and just about anything else. Clearly, social media requires a deft touch, but it's an incredible outlet that has the ability to connect with fans beyond your air. Simply using social as a way to announce contests or guests misses the point.
4, Engage with fans
Social media is not a one-way street. It becomes amplified when you acknowledge those who comment, like, and retweet your comments, photos, and videos. That what amps up engagements and brings out fans, and encourages more social sharing.
5. Use the entire tool kit
While Facebook is the default for most personalities and the stations they're on, other secondary social outlets may be important. Talent should check with their PDs to better understand the value of Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest for the target audience. (And yes, Techsurvey14 is around the corner, so there's no excuse for not knowing your brand's social media pecking order.)
So, of course there's a caveat. Not every radio personality is capable of expressing their views in a cogent, smart, funny, or compelling way. In fact most aren't.
These are skills and instincts that need to be developed over time. And decisions about stepping out, taking a POV, and simply going for it should be made in concert with programmers. Back to the political arena – where this post started – office holders are usually strategic, planning out their every move, position, and reaction. Personalities should be thinking similarly – not just shooting from the hip – but working out the logistics and details with their PDs.
But know this: No one will remember you for that great segue or those concert tickets you gave away, but they will recall a campaign you spearheaded, a stand you took, or an important charity benefit you got behind.
That's not just conventional wisdom – it's the truth.