Social Media Needs To Be Social

The Relationship Era doesn’t mean using social media and other channels to advertise or publicize or otherwise dictate your message; it means finding areas of common interest and values within to forge conversation and common causes.” – Bob Garfield

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After a recent summit designed to gain the perceptions of very savvy, successful, Millennials, there was, as you’d expect, a lot of talk about social media.  Their comments were interesting, but even more interesting were the questions asked by the audience, primarily radio people.

We think the goal of social media is to promote our stations.  Millennials think social media is for opening a line of communication with each other.  That’s quite a difference in perspective.

So here is my observation: We’re using social media as a way to promote to those boomers and X’ers listening to our stations.  That has zero impact on Millennials, and maybe minimal impact on the generations in our audience.  What I see is many stations trying to act or sound Millennial in their social media.

Social media is bound by interests, which in turn is bound by community.  We’re in an amazing world where like-minded people can join around a concept, idea or cause without the help of any “official” organization.  We should want to be involved where the listener is, how the listener is. Promoting what your morning show said this morning isn’t social, it’s hype. Thinking non-digital natives can build an effort to unite Millennials is a pipe dream.  And we all know that pipe dreams are fantastic hopes or plans that are generally regarded as being nearly impossible to achieve.

Social media is content, and very rarely is compelling content a promotion to listen to our own product.

You See What You Want To see

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


I’ve been deeply involved with exploration into the Millennial generation for the past 18 months, and it’s an interesting venture.

No matter what we find in the research, there are people that are going to see the group as slackers, entitled, living with mom and dad, and even the generation that will destroy America.  The truth is that Millennials are an exciting generation that will bring huge, important changes to society that are good, as well as their own “lens” on life.  I was at a meeting with some interns last week, and I left the meeting feeling very optimistic and excited to see what the future holds with these talented people.

But, no matter what research we present, or how many Millennials they talk to, some people will only see them through the lens of their own interpretation or perspective. They aren’t able to see the potential good, only the negative image portrayed by the media.  Some of those who are unable to change their interpretations will miss an opportunity to build a sustainable media palate that appeals to Millennials, and will wind up fading away with the boomer generation.

Whether you are a small, single station in the Midwest, or a larger broadcast organization on the West Coast, or yes…a Network, you’re going to be impacted by the Millennials, a generation significantly larger than the boomers.  Simple facts of life – like nobody gets out alive – means that things are going to change.  Every day, 10,000 baby boomers file for social security. It’s inevitable.

But it’s not “bad.”  Do your own investigation of the generation, talk with them and really listen, understand how they’re different, and how they’re not.  Embrace the change, and ask for their help in navigating through the changes.  Don’t just sit there complaining while the juggernaut gets closer and closer, and finally runs right over you.

 

Roads To Nowhere

“If you don’t know where you’re going you might wind up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

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I was cruising along the freeway on one of those amazing “sun break” Friday’s in Seattle when I saw a freeway exit that didn’t go anywhere.  It was just a blocked off dead-end exit ramp.  There was a lot of poor government planning and financial problems involved, but being a fan of metaphors I couldn’t help think about radio’s future.

I’ve been involved in a major project since January looking at Millennials, and it’s very sobering.  There are a lot of stories in the trades about the reach radio has with that generation, but you don’t see a lot of them talking about their shrinking TSL.  You don’t see any articles about their use of radio in context with their use of other media.  It’s as if we boomers don’t know any Millennials or see their actual media use.

These people are digital natives, and are in almost continual use of media, averaging around 11 hours a day.  But they are multi-media consumers, not single media consumers.  Considering radio’s financial model, that’s disconcerting.

There are plenty of off ramps on the media highway, but we’re not using them for what they are.  All of our social media, community building, video and such, is built around reinforcing radio, not complimenting it.  The answers are there, but someone needs to act on them.

The cool part about the coming convergence between digital and media is that those startup costs are much less than buying a major market signal.  Again, the answers are there, but someone needs to act on them.

Looking For A Campground

“The most significant changes to our world are going on as we speak and will continue as millennials become our future leaders.” – Forbes Magazine

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The Millenials are coming!  The Millenials are coming!

The loud voices of nervous Paul Revere like baby boomers can be heard throughout the media landscape.  Unfortunately Pew research says they’re already here.  2015 is the year Millennials will surpass Boomers as the largest living generation.

Obviously this is going to have an earth shaking impact on media.  Which has divided radio people into camps. The first thinks Millennials will become like their parents at a given age, so there’s no problem at all. Radio will continue just as strong as always.

The second group thinks it’s helpless, and radio is dead. It’s inevitable.

There is a third, smaller, quieter camp that follows the future so they can understand how to integrate radio with the media palate of the future. Those are the people to listen to. They know the coming wave can’t be ignored.

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