Social Media Is Changing — And Radio Benefits

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(By Loyd Ford) I laugh a lot when I see headlines like “Social Media Is Changing.” Of course, it is. It’s social media and human behavior. But change is always an important part of life in the 21st century and especially as it relates to how we deal with consumer behavior, options, the optics and reality of dealing with what impacts our listeners today. So, what is the current change in social media, and how does radio best think about and deal with this changing environment now?

  1. The first good news is that mistrust in social media is everywhere. Not only does everyone know that people put only their best face on social media (so it isn’t 100% authentic), the rise of fake news and cybersecurity issues are very real issues for everyone. These faults or cracks in social media lean to a radio-sized advantage because we are the companion of our listeners if we are doing our job well. They trust us more than they trust social media, television, and other media. We should approach our social media content strategy as an extension of this trust and use it to our advantage. At the same time, we must respect and protect our relationship with listeners by having high standards in our content that continue to support those levels of trust.
  2. People (listeners) are developing technology addiction. This is especially talked about with generation Z, but you would be safe to go to any restaurant, any public place, and see absolute evidence of an entire addicted society at all ages. This is not to be feared.  You can’t do anything about available technology and trending behavior except work to take advantage of it and get in those conversations (and additions). It’s our job.
  3. People (listeners) are almost 90% more likely to trust what family, friends, and co-workers say about a product or service. They are much more likely to take advantage of a recommendation that comes that way than a recommendation directly from a company or traditional advertising. We must top-to-bottom understand and take advantage of this key to behavior (action) if we want to thrive in today’s changing world.  Everyone, from your salespeople to your on-air people, should know this important truth about how trust is more likely to occur and find their way to use influencers to elevate results for radio, our brands, and our clients.
  4. People love visual. They’d rather watch than read. This first made itself clear during the early days of MTV, but we are way past those days now. (MTV used to be music television and music artists used to complain about having a video version of their songs that people would sometimes focus on more than the song by itself). In social media, just like the early days of MTV or the early days of television in general, people want to watch. Think less words and more video, more photos…but really more video. And in no way is radio left out of this dynamic with the rise of access to, and availability of, social media. I don’t care if you are a morning person, program director, salesperson, or promotions person, you should be active in learning and growing ways to get people engaged through video today. If you are not thinking about unique ways to use video, you really don’t want to rise in, or stay on top of, this business today.
  5. Social Media is powerful today. Don’t think so? You’re missing it. Think about 1 – 4 above and think about the advantages radio can leverage because we are dominant companions to our listeners. We can encourage trust. We can leverage our relationships with local audiences and grow important impact and influence with social media, if we learn how to best use social media for and with our clients, for and to engage our listeners, and with our primary products receiving the benefit. But we can’t be lazy and let the world roll on without us because we will fall behind and then out. Remember:  The world will roll on in a second without you and forget all about you. It’s human nature.  

This is our time to push our profession forward because of our totally unique connection to audience that sets us apart from all other media – including and especially social media.  I’ve said it for years: Once you have a radio station, you can get anything else you want.  This has never been more true. Creativity, correct strategy, targeted content, and engagement are all elements that will elevate radio’s game in the 21st century. Start encouraging mastery in the area of video for all levels of your cluster, station, company.  Social media can be a big tool in growing the important trust, companionship, and engaged relationship that radio has owned for many decades.

Loyd Ford has worked as a programmer in markets across the U.S. and spent over a decade working as a ratings strategist for Americalist Direct Marketing. He runs his own pure play digital platform and has a podcast. Reach him at Rainmaker Pathway;  864.448.4169 or [email protected] 

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