In early March I read an article about the social media battle many musicians are fighting with their record labels over who owns their social media accounts. I thought, “I hope radio never gets to this point”.
Weeks after I pondered that article, three high-profile morning show hosts contacted me– they are fighting the artist/record label battle with the companies they work for. After creating the accounts on their own, and after years of building their own relationships with listeners independent of station time and resources, stations have begun taking “ownership” of their talent’s accounts by requiring that they meet certain guidelines.
Air talent should always support the station online- by driving traffic to the website, and upholding the station’s brand essence in their own presence and interactions online. It is in their best interest that the station succeeds- both on-air and online.
However, the recent corporate requirements for morning shows are counter-productive. There is a disconnect in what Management really wants, and what they are going to get with these mandatory “guidelines”.
Social media is about personal relationships- between two people, between a person and a brand or business, between a Morning Show and a listener. These relationships, like any relationship in the “real” world, are based on trust. Listeners trust that the Morning Show is going to provide content relevant to the show and in line with the on-air brand. They trust that by liking the Facebook page or following the show’s Twitter account, they won’t get spammed.
One of the requirements recently placed on Morning Shows are rightfully upsetting this balance of trust. Stations are asking their Morning Shows to include a link to the station website in EVERY Facebook post or tweet. Posting irrelevant links that lead listeners on a goose chase for related content that doesn’t exist doesn’t build a good rapport with them. It can also be counter-productive in that they may not click through to the links that do matter after many times of clicking through for nothing.
For example, if a Morning Show uses social media to develop personal relationships with listeners, the host may share things that happen outside of the show or station. A picture of their child doing something funny, a picture with friends on the weekend, a video of their dog at the dog park. It doesn’t make sense to include a link to the station website in a mobile upload of a personal picture. Yet this is what stations are requiring.
Another unreasonable stipulation is that NO link may be posted or tweeted that isn’t a station website link. While Morning Shows should always strive to provide links to the content hosted on the station website, the content may not always be available there. Does that mean it’s not of interest to listeners? Should a Morning Show not post or tweet the news of Whitney Houston’s death because it’s over the weekend when webmasters are off work ( and the news is too new to be posted on the station website, anyway)?
Management is smart to take advantage of the relationship between a successful Morning Show and its listeners. So hold them accountable for a certain number of posts/tweets per week that contain links to the station website. Hold them accountable for a reasonable standard of website traffic. Ask them to include the streaming link when they use social media to ask for opinions on phone topics.
Just don’t create guidelines that violate the nature of social media. That doesn’t increase web traffic or ratings- it turns a P1 into a casual listener by damaging he trust relationship between air talent and listeners.
-written for Radio Ink Magazine
I am passionate about this topic! I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you think air talent (and I) have a right to be upset about these requirements? Or do you think they are realistic? Leave me a comment.