You Need a Social Media Manager
Broadcast radio has
a serious communication problem.
should embrace every form of communication available to them —
especially easy-to-use texting and apps.
Photos courtesy Mark
We may be terrific
at sending content out but we’re terrible at receiving from, and
responding to, our listeners.
Even when the main
methods of feedback came from the phone lines in the control room,
faxes and mail, radio stations performed poorly. These days, the norm
outside of radio and television is a continual conversation, so
broadcast stations run the risk of appearing out of touch and
potentially even irrelevant.
consumers are growing accustomed to offering their opinion instantly,
yet many radio stations are neither set up to receive feedback
properly nor capable of doing anything with communication once it is
received. The typical program director is too busy to handle this
function, so I’m going to suggest something radical for our
industry: Consider creating the new position of social media
While you may not be
able to accomplish the herculean feat of creating a full-time role
right now, you may be able to string together enough freelance funds
to make this a 20-hour-a-week job for starters. Assuming you
hire correctly for the role, this will also give you ammunition for
mounting a proposal for the next budget cycle.
Let’s get down to
reception buckets you should consider operating: Mobile/SMS,
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, posts to your website(s) and
phone calls. It’s perfectly okay to expand your communication
toolset, but think twice before reducing any method that allows your
listeners to communicate with you.
A perfect example
of premature abandonment concerns SMS, or text messaging. As
Twitter’s growth has exploded and the media have touted its power,
we’ve witnessed stations either underutilizing or completing
dropping the art of SMS.
The assumption is
that texting is yesterday’s news and that pretty much everybody
does Twitter. Even among the younger set, though, that’s quite a
Not only is SMS
alive and well, it still has the best open rate in media that I’ve
ever seen. If you aren’t able to receive communication from your
listeners 24/7 by SMS, you are missing a huge part of your audience
and eliminating the easiest and fastest way to create instant
And while we’re on
the subject of mobile, I must say I’m bewildered to see that most
of the mobile (broadcast) radio streaming apps lack any method of
sending feedback — thumbs up or down on songs, messaging back to
the station or voting on polls.
The primary function
of your new social media manager will be to engage your listeners
personally by first closing the loop in received communication and
then later proactively communicating. As he figures out how best to
accomplish these tasks, he will then train and direct your on-air
A word of supreme
caution: Radio people are natural-born marketers. Every successful DJ
in America is great at teasing the next song or event, whether on- or
off-air. Plus, the inclination of program directors is to use all
their power to promote tune-in and time spent listening, so they
encourage DJs to sell, sell, sell!
and communication with listeners is not primarily about marketing,
and this is a challenging adjustment for those so accustomed to
messaging that’s all about themselves. Social media engagement is
primarily about real content.
Here’s where the
light bulb is supposed to go off. Your social media manager and
personalities must live and love your actual product and be able to
communicate emotionally with listeners about it. As a news or talk
station, your engagement is topically driven and so your social media
manager has to be a news junkie with an understanding of how to deal
with divergent opinions on hot topics.
As a music station,
your social media manager must be aware of the latest song releases,
tours, personality news, pictures and gossip. Yes, you should still
carefully insert marketing messages into your content discussions; do
this by making it relevant to the ongoing discussion and not just
random plugs for on-air tune-in.
People continue to
talk about active communication engagement, or social media, as part
of the future. This is not correct. This is happening now, with or
without radio’s involvement, so make it your business to start
Mark Lapidus is
president of Lapidus Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.