Let’s get real. We often see tension between radio station management and talent when it comes to social media. Management wants to build both station and show brands. Talent are often focused on elevating just their show brand but undoubtedly benefit greatly when the station brand is strong.
We want our shows to drive high ratings, elevate the station brand and generate listener loyalty to differentiate the station from market competitors. Does allowing your show to have its own social media presence stand in the way of these goals? Putting this conversation front and center, and being honest about our objections, is the best way to create a digital strategy that benefits the station, its shows and individual talent.
Let’s make this less personal by looking at a comparative example in healthcare. Hospitals need good doctors; having experienced doctors that drive good outcomes and achieve patient satisfaction is key to hospital revenue. Many doctors use the internet and media—social media, blogs, personal websites in addition to TV and radio appearances—to build their personal brands. While hospitals benefit from having a popular doctor on staff, the doctor’s personal brand also puts them at risk. What if the doctor says something out of line, medically or otherwise? What if the doctor is so focused on their personal brand that they forget to devote time to building the hospital brand?
Hospital administrators face the same question as radio and TV managers but how they typically handle it is different. Physicians may have restrictions and requirements about using social media but they are not told they aren’t allowed to exist on the internet. You can create similar comparative examples in many industries, which can be helpful in assessing whether we’re getting it right in radio.
I am not arguing for a free-for-all in which talent is allowed to do whatever they want because its “their brand,” but I believe that social media strategy for the station, its shows and its talent should be an open conversation with station management (and should be outlined in employment agreement terms, too, for clarity). There is a win-win when done right! Here are a few points that should be included in your discussion:
- Talent responsibility to the station’s online accounts. Creating an online presence for the show or individual talent should not mean bailing on the station’s. Creating rules on frequency, timing and content will ensure that the station’s online brand still benefits from its talent contributions. Talent should have guidelines on how often to post on station social media and web, when and what to post. Example: Morning show talent must post on the station social media accounts during the show daily so engagement from listeners on aired content happens on the station accounts. Setting clear expectations for talent and creating accountability will solve the biggest objection to allowing shows to build their own social media presence.
- Guidelines on on-air promotion. Will the talent promote their show account and the station’s on-air? Just the station’s? These guidelines should be evaluated regularly and changed based on promotions and show content to ensure the best result. Too many calls to action means the audience takes no action.
- Support from show and talent accounts. When your shows or talent have large online communities of their own, the station doubles its opportunity to reach listeners. Request support for station promotions to drive more engagement and higher ratings across dayparts.
- The validity of testing content. Shows often use their social media accounts to test new on-air content. Having a platform for trial and error allows talent to take more risks, building stronger show content.
While management fear about the show abandoning the station’s social media is real— so is the risk your talent resigns to build their brand elsewhere. Being too restrictive can backfire if your talent feel like their personal growth opportunities are limited.
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