Social Media Changes to Watch

The radio and music businesses used to be so simple.

Give the audience what they want and they'll come back for more.

Since the Internet, the mobile generation and the many alternate choices for entertainment available at a touch, swipe or click, these industries radio need to go back to school on social media changes.

Steve Jobs is the expert on reading his young consumer base. It doesn't matter that he is a baby boomer or that his tactics seem to be more old school than new age. But when it comes to understanding how consumers prefer to use new technology, he's the professor.

Still, there is hope which is why I want to run a few social media changes by you this morning to stimulate thought on how traditional media can come away with a better understanding of what consumers want them to do before they expend time, effort and money doing the opposite.

44% of all Americans Own an iPhone, iPod or MP3 Player

The Edison Research findings from a study of 1,753 people ages 12 and up.

Some 54% of them have used these types of devices with their car stereo and that is major. The 44% figure could actually be higher in my estimation but taken as presented nearly half of all Americans have the enemy to radio in their hands and cars.

The car is the main delivery point for terrestrial radio and it is being invaded by popular youth alternatives such as the Ford Sync entertainment system and hard drive, WiFi -- the better to listen to Pandora and other ways to access mobile content that is not traditional radio.

Pioneer is building a Pandora radio for car installation and no matter what the chattering class says to disparage Pandora, it is the gold standard for "radio" going forward.

Soon 50 million Pandora listeners (and growing) will be able to seamlessly access their favorite customized radio service as a built-in device. For everyone else, there will be apps and WiFi.

Conclusion: A car is no longer the sacred home of terrestrial radio and offering only a traditional radio station and nothing new or innovative in content will leave radio out of the hunt for what to listen to on wheels with the next generation.

48% of Americans Have At Least One Social Networking Profile

That's up from 34% in a study just one year earlier.

The Edison/Arbitron findings also reveal 30% of these folks check their profiles more than once a day (up from 18%).

Social networking is a bugaboo for radio companies who tend to blindly embrace Twitter and Facebook and turn social networking into direct marketing. That would be a mistake as I see it. Social networking is so named because there is a two-way communications component presumed in the description.

With so many people gravitating to social networking while traditional media grapples to make their new communications tool their new marketing tool, you can see trouble ahead.

Conclusion: Radio stations must either commit to direct and meaningful communication with social networking profiles or eliminate the direct mail approach. In the new age, you engage listeners who engage you because you are communicating with them. For stations not willing to staff up to interact with growing social media audiences, they will be considered a nuisance and will have missed a golden opportunity to connect.

The iPad Accounts For 5% of All Mobile Net Consumption

And that figure was revealed only one week after the device came out. Keep in mind the following charts are from early April when hardly any iPads were in the hands of consumers compared to today. Check out the growth potential for the iPad here.

Hitting 5% of mobile web consumption after only the first full day of use underscores the growth for not only the device itself but content accessed on it.

Conclusion: Radio has to step up and think visually with new products that are beyond just audio. The day has arrived when consumers will direct their entertainment using the iPad in their hands.

Radio may want to keep delivering only terrestrial streams, but with a consumer item that promises to be more prolific than perhaps any other electronic device that proceeded it, that would be shortsighted.

Get to the skunk works.

Break the mold.

Start inventing content that will be enhanced and embraced on the entertainment centers of the future -- the iPad and mobile Internet.

Now Consumers Will Start To Shut YOU Off

Seth Godin did a piece recently in which he confessed to getting tough with his incoming email and social networking messages.

Godin said:

"Two years ago, I started taking a lot of flak for being choosy about which incoming media I was willing to embrace. What I've recently seen is that this is a choice that's gaining momentum.

It's your day, and you get to decide, not the cloud. I could go on and on about this, but I know you've got email to check..."

As usual an interesting early warning from his intriguing mind. Godin is saying what many of us are thinking -- and that includes young people overwhelmed by social networking -- that the "enough is enough" phase has arrived.

Important because entertainment and information providers generally assume that they can get access to consumers through Facebook, Twitter, email and other content at a click of send. But if Godin is right -- and I believe he's onto something -- we'll be seeing a retreat from the deluge of messages and input that we receive digitally.

Conclusion: The repercussions could be great. Even as some industries like radio and records are trying to use social communication as today's direct mail, consumers have to protect themselves from the barrage of sheer content. What this says to me -- and I'd like you to mull this point as well -- is that we may have to start raising (or for that matter even establishing) standards for what we communicate to others.

It may be a cheap way to get the word out. Now what the "word" is apparently will matter more.

Mobile Bullying Is on the Rise

Look at these statistics from
  • 42% of children are bullied online (25% more then once).
  • 35% of children are threatened online (20% more then once).
  • 58% 'admit' to receiving online messages which are hurtful and threatening (33% more then once).
  • 60% do not inform their parents.
Even as content providers struggle to learn about the electronics of the next generation, it is becoming apparent that other problems -- some that may lead to legal liability -- are showing themselves.

I am told that "schools are hesitant to react because there's no firm national blueprint in place, and they are quick to cite 'other factors' because they don't want to assume liability".

Yet, we are beginning to see what I am sure will not be isolated examples of mobile bullying.

Eleven year old Tyler Lee of Chatsworth, GA was bullied about his "sexual orientation" although he had Aspergers Disease. Phoebe Prince moved to Massachusetts a year ago and 'picked the wrong' boyfriend. Parents find themselves helpless monitoring the activities of their children in the wide world of mobile/Internet. Eleven year old Jaheem Harris who was bullied starting in the 5th grade. There are '11' year old children who are hanging themselves over this.

Media companies looking to get into the mobile space can keep these things in mind when designing content that may be heard by young people. But, new and traditional media can speak out now using their existing resources to talk to parents and even students who will listen.

Conclusion: Radio to the rescue again. This is a perfect new age public service campaign that deserves leaders to stand up and act. Bullying tactics tend to center around sexual identity, discrimination and religion among other things. Children are even bullied for their disabilities.

For stations or content providers who want to step up now, here's how:

"Tell your parents or reach out to a trusted adult. Avoid online messages from bullies. If it's school related, inform them immediately as most schools are working on solutions and policies. Keep the message-they may be needed to take action. Protect yourself-never agree to meet with anyone you meet online.
If bullied through chat, instant message 'block the bully.' If threatened with harm, notify the police".

The once simple process of entertaining and informing via traditional media has become more challenging and worrisome as technology helps enable a new generation to make different choices.

I hope some of these "Gen Trends" (and comments) are useful to you in decision making, working with teams and protecting your franchises.

My rule of thumb:

Open your eyes to how consumers use technology and act appropriately.

For those of you who would prefer to get Jerry's daily posts by email for FREE, please click here. Then look for a verifying email from FeedBurner to start service.
Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.