Social Media and Radio

Social media is everything today.

Bigger than the Internet or the computer it was built upon. It looms larger than any form of traditional media in scope or impact.

Yet, traditional media companies, still the the richest and most powerful, think social media is a mere flirtation to appease the desirable and crucial next generation that they must attract.

An add on, if you will.

These companies must think so because they are doing nothing, actually, to pioneer growth initiatives in such a potentially lucrative market.

When Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace a number of years ago before social networking took off and even before Facebook came of age, he looked like an old media baron who actually got it.

Today, he looks like an old media baron -- period.

Murdoch had the resources to take MySpace to the next level. He made just one mistake. He put traditional media executives in charge of the acquisition. They didn't know what the next level was - they couldn't even see it. That's why MySpace took on the look and feel of a business website -- too commercial, too soon. That's what my USC students said years ago.

Why didn't Murdoch see it -- until now?

MySpace is on a millennium makeover but is not likely to find its old groove.

There's Facebook now.

But even Facebook has problems.

Some think Facebook has grown as far as it can. While my experience with young people shows that few in that age group seem willing to give up a crucial life link like Facebook, students told me years ago that they probably would as soon as something better came along.

In the radio industry, Facebook is an add on to contests, promotions and the like.

The other day, Clear Channel reportedly did something that is so counter-intuitive (assuming their big kahunas have intuition) that Steve Jobs must be laughing if he knows about it:

Clear Channel actually banned Facebook, MySpace and Twitter among other social networks at some stations over concern that it will become a workplace distraction and interfere with their bottom line.

Say what?

Their president, John Slogan Hogan, is doing more to interfere with Clear Channel's bottom line than Facebook. But it shows just how much radio companies do not know about what they need to know.

This appeared in the Tucson Weekly:

"During these tough economic times, the success of our business and this market requires our full focus and attention," said Tom Zlaket, Clear Channel Tucson's market manager, in an internal memo acquired by the Weekly. "The increased use of social-networking sites such as Facebook and/or MySpace can be contributors to distractions within our building. In an effort to mitigate distractions, the use of these social networking sites in our building is now prohibited until further notice unless they are being used, and only used, towards an increase in ratings."

Two things:

1. You can't stop employees from using Facebook unless you repossess their personal smart phones. Duh! You're just driving them to a smaller screen. (How do you think they read me at work?).

2. You don't want to stop employees -- especially young ones -- from using social networking. Believe it or not, this is no different than a smoke in the old days, a coffee break, a walk to relieve the stress, volunteering to handle your bosses personal itinerary ... yada yada yada. That is, in the end, all employees are judged by how effective they are (the exception being consolidation CEOs). Social networking is also a tool.

Taking away this link from media employees in a world where 98% of the next generation is connected to social networking is like taking a coffee breaks or the water cooler away from them. (By the way I heard recently from a disgruntled Cumulus employee that in fact their water cooler was a victim of cost-cutting. I choose not to believe it. I have to believe the water cooler survived).

I slept with my radio in my ear when I was a PD (and most PDs I know did the same). Before there were cell phones, PDs drove to pay phones to chew out a jock who was entertaining himself rather than the audience.

In fact, most radio stations usually have their stations blaring everywhere in the building-- cut that out, too! It could be distracting. Right?

This may be more information than you need to know, but let me live dangerously to make a point. I once stood at a row of urinals with the singers at one of the Philly stations I programmed listening to "Back Stabbers" while we ... you know ...


Anything can be a workplace distraction not just social media. Only someone way out of the loop would try to ban a potential tool and thus become a potential tool.

Dicky Do's one-hour Cumulus spy-camera conferences each week are a workplace distraction. Just ask the poor people who are forced to attend.

So, there you have it once again.

The answer arrives and radio bans it.

Social networking is your friend. Not your enemy.

It is no more distracting than being forced to kiss your bosses butt -- many bosses don't seem to worry about that.

My message to radio is the one that most of Gen Y already received -- the future is not computers, not the Internet by itself, not even the technological wonder of a cell phone.

No, the future is social networking.

And big radio CEOs -- none of whom Tweet or have blogs -- may have to remember the old adage (that I am about to mangle).

You are what you Tweet.

You have no one to blame but the face in the mirror for being left without a growth business if you don't fully understand the importance of social networking to your business.

For those of you who would prefer to get Jerry's daily posts by email for free, please click here. IMPORTANT: Your subscription will not become “active” until you open an email from Feedburner immediately sent to your email inbox or spam filter.

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.
Brainstorm with Jerry.
If you're ready to access new terrestrial radio options, the changing music industry, podcasting, webcasting, mobile content and/or social networking, you might be interested in a one-on-one day with Jerry and your team. Contact Barry O'Brien - (508) 224-4262 for private corporate brainstorming sessions or Jerry for info about a personal face-to-face -- (480) 998-9898.