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The 3 Reasons #Radio #FAILS #Social Media

September 22, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I read a post by brilliant radio consultant Jaye Albright of Albright & O’Malley  — it was about a Twitter promotion a station in Texas was doing and how it’s only a matter of time before you see more Social Media contesting. radio2

Which makes sense.. it’s ALL media.. radio, television, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.. it’s about connecting with others.  It’s a win/win.

Except for the fact that the majority of Radio fails miserably at Social Media.

Very few radio stations are using social media well.  Most aren’t using it at all. In this economy and the state that terrestrial radio is in, you THINK they’d be all over it.. after all, more listeners = more ratings = more money.

But they aren’t. They are either just not bothering or they are doing it poorly.

There are over 12 THOUSAND radio stations in the United States and only 121 of them are on Twitter. (

Radio is missing a huge opportunity to drive web traffic, create listening appointments and increase time spent listening.. but they don’t seem to recognize what they are doing wrong.

The 3 biggest reasons:

1. Radio does not engage.

When I was in radio school, not to mention working in radio, the Program Directors would encourage the jocks to talk on air as if they were speaking to their best friend. One on one with another human being. Entertain them. Engage them.

So why isn’t radio doing that with Social Media?  They are breaking their own rules. Most radio stations have a disproportionate ratio of followers to following on Twitter and seem to rarely interact with those “friends” on Facebook. 

I randomly selected stations that I listen to as well as other stations from the U.S. and Canada..  Ninety five percent  of the stations I researched are following less than ten percent of their followers. Some aren’t following ANY.   HINT: The more you follow, the more will follow you back.

Many stations had less than 100 followers. And they’re only following 10 or so. Most of these seemed to be following celebrities and the like. Great for research. Bad for communication.  Dudes… I have more followers than you. And I don’t have a big ol’ broadcast centre.

If radio would become “friends” with these listeners, the listeners would be far more likely to be loyal.  Plus, sending out one “tweet” a day just doesn’t cut it.  Nor does being unresponsive when listeners send messages to you.  Hard to have a conversation with someone when you’re the one doing all the talking. Just sayin’.

p.s. Having your jocks “blog” by writing 3 lines with a link to a cat singing Happy Birthday. Yeah, not riveting.

2. Radio doesn’t promote itself.

I know! Hard to believe! Think about how many followers and friends Joe Average would have if he were on your local radio station every day telling everyone his Twitter handle and/or Facebook address or YouTube link.  Lots, right?  Thousands..maybe even bajillions…

 If radio actually DID such a thing, they would.  Listening to some of these stations, and checking out their websites.. most did not even have a link to any of their social media sites.  Nor did they talk about them on the air. 

Unfortunately, many in radio think that social media sites are competition for hits to their own websites. 

They’re wrong.

Most listeners will go on a social media site at least once a day.. not so much their favourite radio station’s website. Using social media effectively, radio could drive far more listeners to their own websites.

Using tools like Facebook, Radio could have listeners upload their  own content for contests.. much simpler than Buddy emailing a pic and webguy having to then upload it to the station’s site.

Connect the dots people. It’s what links are for.

3.  Radio vastly underestimates Social Media’s value.

Unfortunately, most in radio don’t think social media is a valuable tool for them. However, now I will speak in their language. Demographics.

Looking at the facts and figures provided by Mashable, Neilsen and Quantcast there are currently 14 million Twitter users in the U.S. alone.  Which makes it sound kind of piddly when you realize that Facebook has over 200 MILLION users.

And, my radio friends, sixty-six percent of those using Facebook are between the ages of 18-49.  58% of users make over 60K a year. 54% Female.. 46% male.  Sound familiar? 

Twitter usage has jumped from just over 5 million users to 27.6 million users in 6 months. Twitter is most popular with working adults between the ages of 35-49. Accounts for 42% of their audience.

Seventy-two percent of Twitterers are in the core demo of 18-49.  54% Female.  46% Male. The vast majority of Tweeters are not only regulars, but they are “addicts”.  From February ’08 to February ’09, Twitter usage increased 1382%. 

Go look at the cold hard facts.. www.quantcast.comwww.nielsen.comAnd read this .

Yet, most stations don’t even have a social media strategy.  Why not?


Radio: Let me know if you need help with that..

**Note: you can now find this and more on my website..**

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Muriel permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:36 pm

    Beth ..great blog…would be a good topic for “what’s your Point”.

    I have even had what is happening to our local radio stns…BORING..Saturdays it is always a repeat program etc…

    I bet Kix could kick themselves in the arse for letting you go..One thing you know and that is how to promote!

    • Beth Warren permalink
      September 22, 2009 1:29 pm

      Thank you Muriel. Not sure they’re kicking themselves.. LOL.

  2. Scott permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:48 pm

    Bang on! It’s like you’ve read my mind on this one. Radio SUCKS at Twitter, Facebook,etc.

    I don’t understand why they aren’t using these tools to promote. I guess because radio is primarily run by old men.

    • Beth Warren permalink
      September 22, 2009 1:31 pm

      haha Oh Scott!

      I had a long conversation with a Promo Director the other day and HIS biggest challenge was that the higher ups just didn’t “get it”.

      I think the demographics speak for themselves though. Uh, hey radio, your audience is all about social media, why aren’t you?

  3. September 22, 2009 1:20 pm

    Hey Beth,

    Fantastic post! Sadly, few radio people read blogs because they are too busy making it about them. Until the medium of radio – where I spent more than 20 years of my life – understands that they are not smarter than the audience, they can create better PRODUCTS and ENGAGE in a CUSTOMIZED and INTERACTIVE world with their audience, they will continue to think it’s about “shup up and play the hits”.

    Radio – as a medium – owns very little content. The music, the imaging, the promotions, the commercials are all created FOR radio to but put ON radio but what actual real CONTENT is solely done by radio stations? Hmmm, could that be that “talking to a real human” thing you were referring to? Could be.

    • Beth Warren permalink
      September 22, 2009 1:34 pm

      Thank you Kneale!

      Unfortunately, most radio people don’t seem to grasp the concept of human interaction.
      They don’t get that social media is about conversation, not a fad.

      Yet, they want the listeners to join their “clubs” and read their “blogs”. Hmmm…

      Oddly, despite my years behind a mic overnight, I still prefer conversations with actual humans.

      Go figure. 😉

  4. Ed Parnell permalink
    September 22, 2009 8:29 pm

    Yep. But you got to remember, radio is run by people, at the moment, who largely have no clue about doing radio. And go out of their way to prove it by enforcing banal and unimaginative formats.

  5. Kristin permalink
    September 22, 2009 8:29 pm

    i’m in agreement for the most part, at least commercial radio

  6. Krista Lamb-Davidson permalink
    September 22, 2009 8:30 pm

    Dead on with this one!

  7. September 22, 2009 8:48 pm

    What’s that saying about the band playing on while the ship sinks?

    The problem (not unique to radio, BTW) is that too many people seem to want some kind of guaranteed ROI before they will act. It’s ridiculous. Since when was marketing a risk-free pursuit? There’s a reason bean counters put marketing in the expense column. What’s even funnier is how minimal the risk of a executing a basic social media strategy can be, really.

    BTW, please note that I am NOT suggesting ROI is unimportant.

    [Have you seen this –> <– Brilliant!]

    My question for you is this: What's the opportunity for us?

    Time to hatch an evil plan, perhaps?


    • Beth Warren permalink
      September 22, 2009 8:52 pm

      Agreed! I was going to expound on ROI however, I felt I was getting a little long winded. (shocking!)

      The interesting part of social media’s ROI is all that’s invested is time.. Most just aren’t willing to do it.

      I like evil plans. Let’s hatch!


  8. Rob Usdin permalink
    October 29, 2009 1:05 pm

    Beth –

    Great post, I just found it.

    I recently did a presentation at Podcamp Philly entitled “What Podcasting and Radio can learn from Each Other” – and I subtitled it “Connecting with your listeners.”

    My audience was all podcasters (which was really unfortunate – I had hoped I’d see a few radio folks) so I talked to them about production value and content value.

    For the radio folks (and I essentially gave this to the podcasters anyway -even though they are already doing these things) I basically talked about social media. All of what you say is true.

    But the one thing more is that it’s not the STATIONS that need to be out there on Twitter – it’s the PEOPLE AT THE STATIONS. The jocks, especially need to live the digital lifestyle. That is what is missing. Podcasters and others involved in social media are sharing ALL THE TIME. This makes them REAL, and connected all the time to their listeners. It gives their listeners deeper understanding of the podcasters as real people. It also means they need to share both “universals” (ex: what’s for dinner) as well as “uniques” (ex: being backstage at a concert and tweeting and posting pictures in real time of it). This is what radio is missing about social media. It’s being always on, always connected and always communicating. It’s not just about the jock in the control room and the contest coming up in 15.


  9. October 29, 2009 1:13 pm

    Thanks Rob!

    I couldn’t agree with you more.. when I use “radio” I meant the “people” behind the stations.. unfortunately far too many announcers sign up for Twitter, Facebook and the like and start with good intentions and then just end up letting it slide.
    I researched many stations that I listen to and many I do not.. far too many had announcers who perhaps “tweeted” once a day.. usually about contests… and really didn’t contribute to the conversation.


  10. October 6, 2010 11:59 pm

    Great post.
    I happened to be thinking about this lately, as I am making trek to Innisfil once a week = at least 4 hours in total driving. I listen to the radio, since I always forget my ipod, and actually I like radio.
    Particularly while driving, as I have the local stations programmed in for the route, and as I lose KIX 106.7- I switch to Barrie station. This allows me to get up to date weather and traffic information along the way. Of course I am usually already in the traffic jam, when the radio informs me of the issue. Suppose at least I get a reason.

    But – what I have been thinking about on these drives is about Social Media and Radio, and what we need to get it to work together. We need it to be live as they are on air. As why would I tweet Jennifer when she is off air? I suspect she is sleeping. Social Media to me is engaging with another human being. I prefer them to be on the other side, and respond to my witty comments.

    This week, I thought of this some more – how can we integrate radio and social media. AH HA – maybe we need a new APP, rather than Facebook or Twitter. Something that I could use while driving and provide ratings maybe for the songs played, or answers to a survey. The APP could interpret the voice response, and send to announcer. How cool would that be?

    I don’t think that Twitter is the correct APP for engaging radio listeners, as usually we are driving or working while listening to the radio. If I am at home, I am tweeting others, and use the radio as background noise.

    As far as Facebook pages – why? I go to KIX and other websites regularly in order to try and win stuff – such as trip to Punta Cana. I just went to their Facebook page – of course was interrupted by ‘stuff’ happening on my feed, that I just had to comment on — and don’t see any reason to go back to it ever again.

    Really, make something that is interactive – live, while the announcer is on air. That would be almost as cool as the old days, when we called in to the radio 🙂

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