Following and tracking the long and excruciating passing of 102 Jamz in Orlando was a treatise on the collective works of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She wrote the definitive pieces on death, grief and the stages of passing and it was sadly fascinating to see them play out.
Denial? I reached out to corporate with a series of warning signs that were alarming. It was like being an oncologist and seeing a mass on a scan. I was cheerfully told “That’s ridiculous? They’re doing great. Never been better.” Verbatim.
One mid-stage Radio Health Crisis was the slow stagnation of the social media. It had stopped being a pretty vibrant playground for Programming and Promotions to market the station and engage the audience with topical, relevant, funny content. It had become a morass of auto-posts from other CBS stations that were just posted randomly by the 9-5 gerbil who’d been pit in charge of Facebook and Twitter.
Perhaps my favorite was a repost from CBS in Philly about “A new survey shows that people prefer their hot chocolate in an orange mug.” In July. In Orlando.
Now, to be fair, a huge part of the problem was that the Digital people in the cluster had excised Programming and Promotions from the equation and they were denied access to the stations’ social media. So, on Friday they’d line up a queue of very exciting auto-posts like “Rihanna says that even fame can’t get her to eat broccoli” and then leave at 5 on the nose.
Because nothing happens on weekends, right? Except for things like the Grammys and the Superbowl and the odd natural disaster. Following the Pulse shooting it took the Program Director fourteen hours to break into his own Facebook and turn off the auto-posts and begin to create content relevant to the tragedy.
A testament to the effectiveness of this strategy was that Jamz had 42,000 followers and that number didn’t vary up or down by more than 100 for four years. One day I checked in and they had an engaged/reach number of something like 31 people. Conversely Jammin’ in New London with their 19,000 followers had a number of 57,000.
I’m not Lori Lewis but as a casual observer it appeared that in Connecticut they were on Facebook in real time, posting like people do (not Radio, but “people”) on Facebook. Questions. Silly photos. Shared memes. News of events that were happening in the community. And these posts were getting numbers and replies. Comments are good. “Kate Hudson shares another adorable photo of baby Rani!” doesn’t really incite the kind of motivation that is required for people to chime in. And again, the numbers are there. You just have to look. If you have 150,000 likes and 139,000 followers and no one in 24 hours cares enough to click “like” on the Katy post, than it’s just taking up space.
Do we need continual 24/7 social media content? Absolutely. Are we limited in the number of bodies who can help us achieve that? Also absolutely. I’m not anti-auto-post too much, but just put a tiny bit of effort into it.
For example, when the 49’ers were in the Super Bowl, during the game no-less, I saw a San Francisco station with “Here are Boston’s ten best bars for watching the Big Game!”. This was in the 1st quarter and that was pretty much their acknowledgement of the Game that at that moment had their market sideways. Again, Digital didn’t work weekends…
So, you need to run these posts. Okay. I get it. But there are also times when someone needs to step in and POP THEM. If the eye of a Tropical Storm is rotating above your market, schools are closed, roads are closed, fatalities have occurred and something about Dove Carpenter’s vitamin deficiency pops up, it’s likely that people will look askance at it.
Hot 89.9 in Ottawa is by anyone’s standard or metric, a great great radio station. And yes, they have auto-posts. But when unexpectedly severe weather tore through the region in September and knocked out power to 250,000 households, Jeunesse, who does Nights, realized that maybe…no one would care about some of the stuff that was lined up to post.
So she deleted it all and went live on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with updates, info, listeners photos and stories, and over the next 24 hour as the market came to terms with the destruction, pulled some of the highest numbers that Hot’s had in a year.
A day on social media should be like a series of plays on a football field: a strategic mix of passes and runs that keep the opponents second guessing the next move. Your audience should feel almost required to check your pages every day because they could miss something. It’s the same formula that great TV shows have. They set the bar so high that people are afraid to skip an episode. Sure they can get a quick recap from any of 18,000 Twitter accounts but it would never be as great as experiencing it live and in the moment.
Gotta run “Conde Nast has released it’s list of ten best places for shrimp scampi in America!”? Cool. Then follow it with something that more than three of your listeners might actually care about. Even if it’s a creative plug for a promotion. “Creative” being the operable term: we spam the crap out of our audience about contests and appearances.
It’s the stuff that Sirius can’t do. We provide 24/7 content on the air and on-line. We research and analyze every song, and coach and critique to maximize our talk breaks. So why would we want to share something our followers that no one will take the time to like or comment on?