Yesterday's blog post – “How Are Your Social Content Ratings?” – had the desired effect. It stimulated considerable thought in radio circles – and not just among programmers and content creators. These Nielsen metrics for television are powerful, and now they're providing a pecking order of social media prowess and power among on-screen personalities.
It's a good thing because the usual numbers used by station management and advertisers have always fallen short. Knowing how many are watching pales in comparison with their engagement levels. And when you retweeting, liking, following, and sharing tidbits about a favorite TV star, you're paying attention.
And after all, that's the key component that drives behavior. In our over-saturated media landscape, figuring out how to capture the attention of consumers has become intensely more challenging.
Social media provides the tool kit that allows shows and personalities to crack through the noise and the fog. And used wisely, it can connect audiences (and marketers) with DJs, shows, and hosts like never before.
That is, if they're inclined to use and master the social levers that are merely a click or tap away.
Lori Lewis is now VP/Social Media for Modern Luxury magazine. Up until now, she's spent her entire career in broadcast radio. She sees the challenge of radio talent using social media in the most basic of terms:
“Like anything in life – when there is no purpose (and cadence) behind what we're doing – it starts to become meaningless, and dismissed as a time-suck.
“So the first step is to define our purpose behind social, giving our time spent on these platforms some meaning. Our purpose must genuinely complement our core characteristics.
“What do we want people to remember about us?
“Is it empathy? If so, then one part of social would be sharing personal moments to build empathy for your brand (and ultimately showing you have much empathy for the audience).
“Or is it humor? Kindness? Knowledge? Or is it community-driven?
“Social can have more than one purpose – but it must be defined.”
AQ, our study of on-air personalities conducted last spring – in partnership with Morning Show Boot Camp – suggests many air personalities lack that sense of purpose behind their social interactions.
People who do Lori's job have a heavy lift. That's because more than one-third of the 1,100+ radio stars who took our survey consider social media to be something of a time suck. And to add a little insult to social injury, those who work on morning shows are especially likely to feel connecting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social platforms gets in the way of doing their jobs.
A look at the demographics shows that while older personalities are more likely to point to the burdens of executing a social strategy, even one-third of Millennial DJs are on the same page. And those who ply their craft on music stations are quite a bit more apt to question social's value among their other in-studio duties.
But interestingly, there's a strong realization that social matters. In fact, we gave respondents a list of 13 skills, and asked them to designate the most important ones for achieving on-air success. The list included everything from computer prowess to writing to voicetracking to podcasting.
And sitting on top of the heap is social media skills, mentioned by two-thirds of our personality sample as “very important” to achieving career success.
When we followed up by asking these personalities to rate their own proficiency at these same skills, a startlingly low percentage told us their social media abilities are “excellent.”
The chart below shows these skills in order of importance. Note that only about one-third tell us their social media talents rate an “excellent” score. That's an admission that most personalities could use some help.
So maybe the data is trying to tell us something else. While it's true many personalities view social as another of the many tasks they have to perform, even more acknowledge the importance of social skills and the reality they have a lot to learn.
A handful of radio broadcasting companies have added staff and expertise in the social space, hiring people like Lori. But most do not recognize the value of teaching the ins and outs of social media to on-air personalities, as well as support staff.
As the Nielsen data and other research underscore, audience and advertiser engagement plays an increasingly more important role on media platforms.
But harnessing that power means more than posting viral memes or simply clicking “like” up and down a station's feed. It's more nuanced than that.
Lori offers a final thought, and it's one that illustrates that social engagement can take many different forms:
“It's been my long belief using social when you're OFF the air is more meaningful. It feels more personal interacting with talent when they are “off
“This doesn't mean you don't “like” tweets or comments that roll in during the show. The real time feel of a “like” by talent is very memorable.
“It does means using planned content while live on the air. It means to ‘like' the unplanned, funny tweets or comments in real time. But the bulk of audience interaction (commenting back to them, conversations, etc.) would be better for our bandwidth if we carved out time after our shows.”
There's a lot more to excelling in the social space than carving out a few minutes here or there to respond to an audience that lives on these platforms.
It's not about how often you post or tweet or how many “likes” or “followers” you amass.
Social is the interaction engine that helps set broadcast radio apart from other media.
It's time radio learned how to make it hum.
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.