— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) May 17, 2018
Here we are – more than a decade into the social media revolution – and radio stations and the companies that own them continue to struggle with social media strategies.
A case in point is the accounts and “socializing” of their top talent. At some stations, personalities use a station account for communicating, keeping their personal matters to a minimum. At others, DJs maintain personal accounts, and they post and tweet just about everything – from station business to personal politics.
And somehow, most companies still do not have a cogent, uniform policy that governs social accounts, and what gets said where. It is a true social dilemma.
But radio isn't alone in dealing with this conundrum. That's because at the highest regions of the federal government, this same level of confusion and ambiguity exists. And the stakes are much higher in the State Department than they are in radio broadcasting.
I'm not talking about the Twitterer in Chief. By now, the President's inconsistencies, outbursts, and attacks have somehow become expected as his social norm. If a radio personality acted out similarly on social media, she would be suspended – or fired.
But for those of us who don't work in the Oval Office, it is easy for social media boundary lines to blur. Even in government circles.
In this case, it's Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who uses her personal Twitter account (@nikkihaley) to chat about her family and favorite bands (Journey and Bastille have been mentioned lately), as well as speaking out about world matters that impact millions.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) May 30, 2018
A recent story in Politico addresses the problems Haley's personal Twitter account causes – and it reads a lot like a market manager's frustration with a renegade jock's social media ramblings.
Check out this quote from Politico writer Nahal Toosi:
“(Haley's Twitter account) spotlights the hotly debated questions of how much social media followers are worth and what it means to earn them. Former officials say that the State Department is unfairly deprived when prominent diplomats leave office and take with them followers acquired through their government service.”
Sound familiar? That's precisely the conundrum radio companies face in establishing social media policies, particularly with their popular talent. The ability to take those social media fans to their next station is relatively simple – and a source of understandable concern on the part of broadcast executives.
Interestingly, the State Department has a policy – but it's questionable whether Ambassador Haley is following it. Their rules require that an employee in her role “whose positions make it appropriate for them to engage in official communications on behalf of the Department over social media must not use personal social media accounts to do so. They must use official social media accounts, created and owned by the Department.”
Seems simple and clear enough, but like so many rules these days, this one's being ignored by Haley. She does not use an official State Department twitter account for her tweeting. And her communiques on Twitter run the gamut from friends and family in her new residence of Manhattan to U.S. allies and enemies around the world.
So, what does this mean for radio companies and the personalities they employ?
I turned to Lori Lewis, Cumulus's VP of Social Media. This was an issue Lori wrote a lot about during the years when she worked with us here at Jacobs Media.
As she told me, “When you're on the air, only the ‘mothership' (the radio station) social media accounts matter. The use of social should be seen as a mutual relationship. You help take care of the station socially when you're on the air (live or voicetracked). And when you're not on the air, that's when you want to be active on your own social accounts.”
And so, the best path is juggling two different accounts – one that's part of the station's official social voice, and the second one to opine about whatever you like, post personal photos and memes, and simply be a social creature.
But when you see the federal government struggle to create and enforce its policy, it's an opportunity for radio companies to hammer out their own social rules of the road – and stick to them – rather than learn (often the hard way) that talent is taking thousands of fans, followers, and friends to their next gig.
Meantime, you have to wonder with her love for music, does Ambassador Haley follow any of her home state South Carolina radio stations and personalities.
Somehow, it wouldn't be surprising to learn she's a P1 in good standing of the Rise Guys, the big morning show on WTPT/The Planet (@TheRiseGuys).
Perhaps she'll post about them in between her tweets about Kim Jong Un and Benjamin Netanyahu.
What a wild social web we weave.
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.