There’s Content and Then There’s the Right Content.

I was scrolling though my Facebook feed this morning…as many of us do…and noticed an update from a radio station that I use to program in Des Moines. It was what I consider a pointless status update, more of a commercial than an update really. I’m sure most would just scroll by or delete it. Being in the content building business, I headed to their page. Oh boy…

A quick bit of  background here: 95 KGGO is a Rock station that, over the past 35+ years has evolved into a Classic Rocker. They’ve always been a monster in the market and set the tone for rock in central Iowa for years. Personally, my 13 years there as Promotions and Program Director generate some of the best memories I have of my days “in radio.” Like many stations it has become less local and live staff has become scarce. I’m sure a favorite station of yours “isn’t what it use to be.” But this is not about whining about the “good ol’ days” of radio. The fact is, the way the business of broadcasting is done has changed. However, the need to build audience and create fans has not.

That brings me back to their page. It does little if anything to make anyone care about KGGO. It does little to tell me about what and who they are. It does little to make me love them. It does EVERYTHING to sell me something. And that is exactly why they are failing in taking advantage of Facebook as a way to create passionate, lasting fans.

I’ve noted the problem areas in the screenshot on the left. (Click on it to open a larger version)

  1. The ‘About Us’ doesn’t tell me about them. It offers a phone number that, when called, went unanswered. This station has heritage (note 35+ years of it above), is there really nothing you can tell me about?
  2. The “Listen Live” image/link takes me to a page that has no audio and no information listed. If you’re going to have a “listen” link there, I really ought to hear something.
  3. There is soooooo much content dedicated to “pimping” the station and contesting. For years, the effectiveness of “caller number nine” contests on radio has proven to be nil. Why would anyone think it would be great to promote it on Facebook?
  4. Holy crap! Some actual personality content. I love the South Park version of on-air guy, Clutch. There’s an actual attempt at interaction with fans. Sadly, it goes no further than one question. There’s no conclusion. The photo of the guy with the hat (on larger version) is hilarious. While I’m sure the first reaction by the station brass is that they would not like this guy to show up at a client. However, the thing to do is embrace him. Make this guy the Fan of the Week. Too much fun is possible here.

What kind of content creator would I be if I didn’t offer some additional ideas on what to post that someone would really care about, keep them coming back and (shocker) actually listen to the station. Okay, along with what I’ve already mentioned, here you go:

  1. Involve your fans. Why not check out some of the pages of your fans and share something they are sharing. Keep it light-hearted and don’t get personal. If their sharing a link to something the station is known for, share it. Don’t share personal tragedy or hardship. You want them to like you…
  2. More photos of events…with fans.
  3. Snippets of on air audio.
  4. Comments from the staff. In this case Bob and Tom, a syndicated show, isn’t in house and can’t comment on every affiliate’s page. But, they are commenting on their own page. Share it.
  5. Video, video, video! Create your own, share music videos, comment on Youtube.

So, who’s’ going to do all this? Start with the person that seems to have plenty of time to post ads and promos for contests now, but also involve everyone of the people at the station. They’ve probably got more ideas! By the way, have they all “Liked” your page?

Sadly, KGGO is not alone here. It’s a challenge each and every day with each and every project to keep fresh and compelling content coming. It’s not easy and it’s really not free but, it is worth it. so, Do it for the fans!

Will “Social Network” Play In Peoria?

The new Facebook movie is time well spent but will the non-geek enjoy it?

Thanks to Columbia Pictures and Social Media Breakfast MSP, I was able to check out an advance screening of the soon to be released “The Social Network”. The movie is based on the 2009 book “Accidental Billionaires”, the story of the rise of Facebook and it’s founder Mark Zuckerburg. (Leave it to a movie about a social network to get me blogging again after a long absence.)

What lured me to this movie, beyond of course my ongoing interest in Social Media, was the writing and cast. I’m a fan of Aaron Sorkin, known by most as the writer for TV’s “The West Wing”, and I was anxious to see this latest offering. I was also interested in the young cast, many of whom you may have never seen or known you’ve seen. I was particularly interested in seeing Justin Timberlake. From N’Sync to SNL and everything in between, this cat has proven himself to be very talented.

Since many in the audience secured seats through SMBMSP, this was a group of social media enthusiasts and expectations were high. We in this space tend to share everything that we do while we do it via Twitter and photo sharing. Since this was an advanced screening where the studio didn’t want anything to get out, we were asked to surrender our mobile phones. So the entertainment began early as many in the theater showed visible signs of social media withdrawal. Heck, many couldn’t even tell the time with out it. (One word: wristwatch.)

The Review

Both cast and writing did not disappoint. Jesse Eisenberg brought a real complexity to Zuckerburg. Between his handling of Zuckerburg’s anti-hero persona and the need to convey his almost autistic like behavior, he managed to portray a passionate asshole. Someone you can’t help but like and despise at the same time.

Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin provided a great counterpoint to Eisenberg’s Zuckerburg as a ‘brilliant in his own right’ room-mate that provided the root of what Facebook becomes. He is lovable and naive as one of the many jilted participants in the founder’s rise to brilliance.

I’m also happy to say that Timberlake impressed as the founder of Napster. He is the one who hypnotizes Zuckerburg with his confidence, arrogance, and vision of what the Silicon Valley lifestyle could be; an endless whirlwind of coding, drugs, coding, booze, coding, and babes. Oh yeah..and money.

“The internet’s not written in pencil Mark, it’s written in ink.”

I think you’ll also dig the performances of: Armie Hammer in his dual role as the Winklevos twins and Rooney Mara as the girl who pushes Zuckerburg to spend the night coding his revenge for her dumping of him over beers. Those parents of young kids will be happy to see Disney Channel star Brenda Song make the leap to the big screen as Facebook “groupie”. An though the plot twist is somewhat unnecessary, she becomes less than wholesome as she proves to be a bit whacked as Eduardo’s girlfriend.

Sorkin’s writing shines as his face-paced, sarcastic, and caustic wit works well in the telling of a story that is itself all of those things. He provides great lines for Zuckerburg that are funny and sad and cutting…all at the same time. He also brings out the telling traits of the Winklevoss twins as they establish themselves as a coders nemesis; the “suits” that are the business of the web. Oh…the music from Trent Reznor also seriously does not suck.

Hello Peoria

Speaking of that business of the internet…My question is, as the saying goes, “Will it play in Peoria?” The audience, with whom I shared the theater, were of the business or at the very least a participant in it, clearly enjoyed the film. I’m sure most would give it thumbs up, 5 stars, 5 tweets, or whatever. Will the average person enjoy it? Is Joe six-pack interested in the rapid rise of Harvard internet geek with a hoodie obsession to billionaire with access to an infinite number of bytes of information…with a hoodie obsession?

Obviously, time will tell once the movie is released October 1st. I find it difficult to detach myself from my own workings within the space. Being part of media makes it difficult to not critique it. (I    still turn up the radio when the music stops.) But, if you are into some fast-paced writing, clever dialogue, good character development and a dash of Animal House this is a movie for you.

Of course, if you are a fan of the lure of Silicon Valley millions, all night computer coding, actually believe that “the babes” love a successful geek, or are even a rabid Facebooker and tweeter, with a taste for Animal House, this is also for you…whether you live in Peoria or not.

Using “Unfriend” In a Sentence

The fine folks at the New Oxford American Dictionary, known world-wide a ‘Lord of the Word’, announced their 2009 Word of the Year. Ladies and gentlemen, the word of the year is…

unfriend, (un-friend), verb: To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

Yes, thanks to the internet and the rise of social networking, the language of online introduces another word into the mainstream. With any new word I hearken back to grade school and the days of the teacher saying, “Use it in a sentence.” The word unfriend can be used in many ways…

Oxford’s example: “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”

Matter of fact: “I unfriended the guy.”

Threatening: “Keep up the spam buddy and I’ll unfriend you.”

Showing concern for one’s feelings: “I hate to unfriend her. Can I do it without her knowing?”

Longingly: “Wow, I wish I could have unfriended this guy in high school.”

Wouldn’t it be fun to add the “un” to other words?

Healing: “I just unstubbed my toe.”

Wishful thinking: “Hey boss, would you please unfire me?

Realistic: “I need to unwaste some time on Facebook.”

Do you have some you’d like to add?

Social Media: Keepin’ it Real

Every once in awhile it’s good to be reminded that our busy lives are influenced by…what’s the word I’m looking for…buzz, spin, hype, BS? It’s no different for those of us who work in media and marketing. Even I, who considers himself ‘a voice of reason’, get intrigued by the latest new and shiny theory, service, or technology that comes down the pike…and believe me there is a heap of ‘new’ that takes up every lane of that pike on a daily basis.

At a recent Social Media Breakfast there was great discussion highlighting many theories on managing and marketing within social media, both business to business and business to consumer. The room was filled with comments and thoughts about what this new medium is all about, how companies felt about it, the tools that we can use to participate in and monitor it, and more.

Don’t get me wrong, we need do explore “what could be”. We need to talk in big picture terms, we must look forward. We also need to get giddy about new toys that, from a perch at a coffee shop with free wifi, allow us to reach our audience. (We all have audiences whether they be customers, followers, viewers, etc.)

What this conversation sparked in me was a need to remind myself, and perhaps others that work in marketing and PR, that our job is not necessarily to set the trends, make things popular, make the service a priority…that’s what our audience does. Our job is to follow their lead, not the other way around. If we are truly marketing to, building relationships with, or communicating in general with our audience we must do it on their terms.

With that said, marketers, I thought I’d list some of what I think are  realities. Here goes…

Social Media is two different things.

Social=relations, interactions, and communication between people.
Media=the channel to carry a message…nothing more. (By the way, that’s true of all media. It’s a pipe.)

People don’t like advertising.

Hard to believe I know, but people are not attracted to media because it offers businesses the opportunity to sell something to them. People know that being exposed to an ad is the price of admission for free media. Yes, they expect advertising, they tolerate it, but they would rather live without it and will avoid it. Witness the rise of Tivo and DVR.

Social Media is not “Advertising” Media.

The rise of Facebook, Youtube, even text messaging was precipitated by people wanting to communicate with other people. Not because they needed one more place to be sold something. If we as marketers treat this medium as just another way to shill, we’re going to screw it up and drive the audience farther away. Don’t try to advertise here…be social!

You audience has precious little spare time.

How dare we think that all our audience has to do is sit around and
type, search, click, and download only to be “sold to”. Answer the
question, “What’s in it for me.”

Only Facebook and text messaging matter…right now.

It’s that “They set the trend and decide what’s popular.” thing. Yep, Twitter is growing, YouTube is huge, blogging is great, but right now, the crowd is on Facebook to socialize electronically and are more than satisfied with text messaging as a way to stay in touch. These two are the lake…hunt where the ducks are!

Portable is vital!

Notice I didn’t say mobile. That would imply, it needs to be a
phone. I don’t think it does, though if you’re looking to deliver a
message to somebody, it makes a whole lot of sense to deliver it to them via something
that already have. But, if they can wear it, carry it easily, put it in their pocket…take it with them…you’ll get
their interest.

They can talk back!

If you can’t spend time listening and responding, stay the hell away from social media. This medium is about engaging in a conversation and a relationship. Make sure you’re ready to commit to that. No one likes to be invited to a party at your house to be ignored.

Some companies/brands/people don’t want to participate.

Conversation can lead to a greater depth of knowledge about all the participants. Some companies love the thought of learning more about their customers but have absolutely no interest in letting them know more about them. In fact, some people see absolutely no reason to share their “status” or share a video clip. That’s just fine. Please do your best to help them learn about this medium. But remember, the ones that “get it” can always better at it.

There are no rules.

Perhaps the reason many mediums are struggling is because someone at some point decided that “This is how you do it!” They made the rules, decided the proper etiquette, wrote the book and became the expert. Playing it safe and playing by the rules became the strategy of choice. I love the guys that say, this is what you can and can’t do with Twitter or should or shouldn’t post on Facebook. It’s a brand new medium, let’s wait awhile before we try to make it predictable. Find what works but also spend time finding out “what else” works.

So there are some realities that I see. There are plenty more. Aren’t there? What can you offer that will help all of us “keep it real?”