Social Media Tips from the NAB in Chicago

The importance of using Social Networks to influence ratings and tuning was front and centre at the NAB radio show in Chicago yesterday. The session called “R U a Social Misfit” focused on actionable things radio personalities can do to engage audiences. Radio stations are using social media to have conversations and deepen engagement with radio listeners, open advertisers to a wider audience and to drive more traffic to a station’s website.

Lori Lewis, the director of digital and social strategies at rock radio consulting firm Jacobs Media, who moderated the session says, “The social and digital channels we have to operate with today will allow our audience to consume our product on their preferred platforms.”

BJ Shea, host of The BJ Shea Morning Experience for Seattle-based rock station KISW-FM engages his listener’s via Facebook, Twitter and his online blog and said he figured out early on that this was a powerful way to connect with people. Shea now has approximately 5,500 Twitter followers and 13,000 likes on his Facebook page. All four members of his morning show have Facebook pages and all of them update Shea’s page while he is on the air. He also works the social platforms after hours to simply tweet back to followers and comment about local sporting events such as Seattle Seahawks games.

80% of posts should be about communicating with followers and 20% should be about promoting you. If it is the other way round, which is the case on many Twitter accounts, then you risk being perceived as being too self-indulgent which will turn off or even anger followers.

Another error the station made is when a different on-air talent posted a question on the station’s Facebook page, generating 77 responses, but neglected to reply to any of them. “That’s like saying to somebody, ‘What’s your favorite color,’ and then not listening and walking away,” McKenzie said. “You’ve got to get your on-air staff to talk to them. … When you reach out on Facebook, you’ve got to keep reaching out.”

Given social’s ability to build up a station’s fan base, advertisers are becoming increasingly interested in showing up within a station’s social content, Weston said. The challenge is trying to find a way that makes them happy without compromising the integrity of the content you’ve created, Lewis said.

For example, WMMR put up a Facebook post with a picture of a new beverage for client McDonald’s and a caption that read like ad copy. The post generated only three comments, two of which were negative, he said. But for Dunkin’ Donuts, Weston said the station put up a picture of the back of an on-air talent’s truck littered with trash and a bunch of empty branded ice coffee cups. It was accompanied by copy that admitted he was paid to drink Dunkin’ coffee, but he really liked it. “It was a glimpse into his life, and he was sharing a little bit of who he is,” Weston said. “It was done in a way that was personal and it didn’t sound like an ad.”

Panelists also addressed concerns that Facebook and Twitter could actually take viewers away from station sites and negatively impact online ad revenue. The solution is using Facebook and Twitter to entice followers back to a station’s site, McKenzie said. WNCY has sent messages hinting about guests in their studios with a link directing followers to the answer on their website. McKenzie said she also uses on-air time to entice people to visit the station’s on-site blog to get the full story and see pictures related to topics they talk about.

While many stations may still be getting a hang of Facebook and Twitter, they can’t neglect other forms of social media starting to emerge. Shea said he was so adamant about getting an app for his show that he told management he was going to put down his own money. Station management was so excited about the idea, and the app’s audience-building and revenue-netting potential, that they invested money themselves in an app for all of KISW programming.

At Byrnesmedia we build applications for radio stations for the iPhone, Android and the Blackberry platform. Check out an example here.