Long time coming, first time tweeting. Don’t waste my time with dumb stuff.
— Mike Francesa (@MikeFrancesa) May 18, 2018
And with that, a new era in radio has begun, a red-letter day in sports radio history.
New York icon Mike Francesa, who just returned to the legendary WFAN, finally opened a Twitter account. And not surprisingly, thousands of his fans signed up, some to congratulate him, and many others to rag him.
I can only wonder what Ebro , Curtis Sliwa, and Howard Stern thought when they heard this big, breaking New York radio story.
What took him so long?
Yes, we all know people who are still using flip phones, have AOL accounts, and wondering why no one's responding to them on MySpace. But when we're talking about one of radio's most famous personalities, plying his trade in a format where Twitter is like oxygen, it begs the question.
WFAN chronicled Francesa's first foray into Twitter like it was the first moon walk – a momentous occasion in the history of the radio station. The photo at right of Mike's first tweeting action reminded me of the obligatory photo parents take of their child's first steps – at age 12.
Look, it wasn't the royal wedding, but it was an odd moment in the trajectory of one of radio's most dynamic talk hosts. And very much a case of arrested development.
To now Entercom-owned WFAN's credit, bringing Francesa into the new millennium isn't just smart – it is an essential part of fan engagement, especially in the sports radio world. For years now, our Techsurveys have shown how of all the formats we include in the world's largest radio study, sports fans and Twitter go together like Mantle and Maris, like Magic and Kareem, and like Trammel and Whitaker (OK, I'll stop.)
Here's this year's Brand Pyramid for the sports radio format, comprised of more than 4,500 fans, and how they use social media and other tech brands on a weekly basis (or more often).
Twitter use is nearly twice as big as we see for the entire study. And TS 2018 shows that of sports fans who have a Twitter profile, a majority now use the platform at least every day.
So, why wouldn't you want to be have a 24-hour presence on Twitter – a social platform that's become the leading voice in fan engagement, and real-time feedback?
Francesa's not alone. Part of the reason NBC gave up on Jay Leno was his reluctance to engage digitally and socially with his fans. In a world where Fallon, Kimmel, Conan, Corden, and others have elevated their engagement with their core audiences, there is a rapidly diminishing place for talent who opt to be dinosaurs rather than interactive personalities who understand their audience wants to go well beyond the “First time caller, long time listener” clichés.
During an era when the President opts to communicate via Twitter rather than through conventional avenues like press conferences, radio companies need to find ways to encourage, train, and help personalities use and master the digital tool kit. As we've learned (often the hard way) these past few years, not every personality is well-suited to write a blog, create a podcast, or even tweet. But to keep pace and stay connected with rapidly moving audiences, they have to find a way to teach and if necessary, cajole talent to become better communicators in the modern era.
Yet, all these years later, most broadcast radio companies don't really have a social strategy, and only a handful have a qualified strategist and tactician on staff.
Techsurvey 2018 provides guidance for stations by format – and for our stakeholder stations, market level data – of their core fans, to better understand how and where to engage them.
There's nothing like it in all of radio, and we've put together a special webinar Thursday, “The 10 Things We Learned in Techsurvey 2018.” From the eruption of smart speakers to the growing proliferation of “connected cars,” to political party affiliation by format, our goal is to help radio understand and optimize its already powerful presence in the media world.
You can sign up here.
For Mike Francesa, hopefully he'll benefit from a new world of engagement to help him better understand his fans, get more information about his chosen field, and be in the moment. Congratulations on taking the leap.
And to others in radio who have hesitated to immerse and engage, it's not too late to join the party.
It's fun, it's eye-opening, and it just might energize your performance.
Mike, welcome to Twitter. But get ready for lots of “dumb stuff.”
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.