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RAIN Summit panel discusses social strategies for radio

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 10:10am

Triton Digital Media VP Business Strategy, Applications & Services Division Jim Kerr moderated the "Social Radio" panel at last month's RAIN Summit Dallas. He spoke with four pros from the broadcast, online radio, and Internet services industries concerning how radio can best make use of social media tools, and take advantage of consumers' embrace of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and more.

In planning a mobile strategy, given the necessary committment of resources (engineers, social media professionals) Jelli founder/CEO Mike Dougherty advised focusing on the biggest and most important, which for his company (and the others agreed) were Facebook and Twitter. He also suggested being realistic about the impact. Integrating with Facebook's Open Graph enables Jelli users' sharing and participation, but "Facebook didn't spike our usage or traffic, but it did provide a 3-4% monthly increase. It's like interest on a bank account. That investment was really important for us."

Owen Grover (iHeartRadio SVP at the time, now Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises SVP/Content Partnerships) agreed, and suggested using realistic expectations and logic to help decide where to "spend" your company's resources in social media. "We ask, 'Who are the listeners we're addressing here?'" Different genres attract different demos and lifestyles -- the same goes for social media platforms. "You're not going to get a ton of AC listeners on Tumblr blogs... However, you see an extraordinary use of social photo apps among urban radio listeners," he said. You need to consider "where your listeners expect you to be."

Pureplay webcaster Raditaz founder/CEO Tom Brophy suggested if you give a highly-engaged audience "the channels to interact with the social networks, they'll use them." His company's plan has been to "provide (social media) channels and tools, and be proactive and push some content" to these networks.

SoundCloud doesn't create content; rather, they provide the platform for others to promote content. To make that as easy and rewarding as possible, SoundCloud Head of Audio Manolo Espinosa explained his company's work to integrate in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flipboard, and more. "Our idea is to make it super simple, give you the right stats, and help you promote your content."

But how can this help increase radio listening?

Grover called Facebook and Twitter "extraordinarily powerful at getting the word out, generating excitement, and creating conversations that feed the larger on-air conversation." His example is Clear Channel talent Elvis Duran, who dedicates large segments of his show to what's trending on Twitter and Facebook. Social media platforms shouldn't simply be "places to deposit content," or even necessarily just "traffic referrals," he advised. "We think of them as an extension of conversation. People are surprised to hear me say I'm interested in driving on-air occasions, because I'm the digital guy, but we think of our platform as '360,' and integration is the 'magic sauce' that differentiates us."

SoundCloud's Espinosa brought up CNN's Radio's use of his platform, as well as New York air talent Zach Sang, who posts clips he thinks have "viral" potential -- which include him promoting that evening's show. This takes great advantage of the fact that in the online world, people want to share content they enjoy. "Giving people that content to share in a way that doesn't impact their workflow, that's where you want to be!" said Espinosa.

Dougherty added that Jelli stations have seen actual ratings increases follow a good shift in social strategy that increased online engagement.

Naturally, a good social media strategy needs to be mobile. Grover advised thinking about the "meaningful distinctions between the desktop experience on social, and the mobile experience on social." His example: the difference between the Facebook mobile app and the desktop version, "and you realize there's no such thing as a 'tab' on a Facebook mobile app, and therefore some of the branding or marketing or partner- or sponsor-driven stuff that you're doing you can't execute the same way. You have to think about these differences."

Check out audio from this panel below. Audio from all the RAIN Summit Dallas segments is here.

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