ReadWriteWeb is a fantastic blogsite...informative and broad-reaching in its coverage of new media. Great resource worth a bookmark. Yesterday, they posted an article with a bit of a contrarian point of view on social media.
"Making Money" is perhaps the biggest challenge social media must face.
Here were some of their posted thoughts:
"Social media" was the term du jour in 2008. Consumers, companies, and marketers were all talking about it. We have social media gurus, social media startups, social media books, and social media firms. It is now common practice among corporations to hire social media strategists, assign community managers, and launch social media campaigns, all designed to tap into the power of social media.With all the great excitement of social media lately, yes, they are right. It is noisy and messy, filled with an endless array of tools and gadgets.
But social media today is a pure mess: it has become a collection of countless features, tools, and applications fighting for a piece of the pie.
Facebook, a once groundbreaking online community, has become the ant colony of third-party applications. Twitter users now have a dozen or so additional applications they can use to overcome Twitter's ever-present shortcomings. People spread themselves across a number of tools and maintain different networks on each (large portions of which they don't even know), making it nearly impossible to decide what to share and with whom.
Users, marketers, and companies face an incredible amount of noise, too. For every new application that relies on a network, another crops up that helps users manage it. While "eyeballs" used to be the coveted metric, both ad publishers and investors now realize that having smaller well-targeted niches can lead to much better returns than marketing to one large undifferentiated mass of users.
Meaning and connection -- two key anchors of all things social media -- are corroding by the day as people's ability to organize their experiences and find the relevance of their networks declines. Social media, in essence, is bumping up against its own ceiling, no longer able to serve the needs of those living within its walls; and for these reasons, social media as we know it is changing course.
So what needs to change? Again, some of ReadWrite Web's top thoughts as social media continues to evolve:
1) It's About People. We're moving away from "users," "customers," and "shoppers": social media is bringing back the human element to all digital interaction.While this year be the year social media and "making money" converge successfully? Or is that still years away?
2) Creating Meaning and Value. Social media will no longer be about features and applications. These have become a dime a dozen. People will be looking to get tangible and relevant value out of their social experience; they'll be looking for meaning and for order.
3) Enabling Convergence. People are at a loss when it comes to pulling their conversations together from various sources and assigning meaning to them.
4) Building a Truly Cross-Platform Experience. In the new landscape of social media, people are seeking solutions that seamlessly cut across mobile, web, and live interaction.
5) Creating Relevant Social Networks. People will create, join, and seek social networks that enable them to have meaningful and relevant experiences with each other. They will measure their return on investment (time spent, level of disclosure, etc.) in replies, comments, their ability to influence, and the value of their learning.
6) Innovating in the Advertising Space. Ad publishers and the attached ecosystem will continue to lose revenue until they realign their understanding of what appeals to people who are conversing, connecting, and expressing. The next phase of social media is a gold mine of targeted niche demographics.
7) Helping People Organize Their "Old" Social Media Ecosystem. As aggregating platforms enter the field, people will seek to bring order to the endless bits of information available to them. Video tagging, conversation archiving, taking cloud computing to the next stage, and making search more relevant are some of the new baseline requirements. These represent a significant opportunity for companies willing to undertake this massive endeavor.
8) Connecting with the Rest of the US and the World. With some exceptions, today's active social media users are early adopters. In the next one to two years, the benefits of social media will cross the chasm and reach the mainstream.
9) Preparing for New Social Media Jobs. Social media's new job descriptions will call on subject-matter experts who can plan for relevant interaction within networks and aggregating platforms and bring together products, services, and people.
10) Making Money. The next phase of social media will bring plenty of lucrative opportunities. With the rise of aggregating platforms, social networks, and new mobile and location-based features, we're bound to see an increase in targeted and personalized ads, "freemium" packaging, revenue sharing between strategic partners, and a flow from the offline world to online social engagement (such as when real goods complement virtual ones).
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Wednesday, January 28, 2009,
2008 was the year social media networking sites and micro-blogging tools exploded to near-mainstream usage. This year promises only more growth for social media.
In Canada, there are 8 million Facebook members...for a country with 24 million on the Internet. That's one-third of Canada found on just one site!
Just this month, Facebook became twice as large in usage than MySpace...with a total of 150 million active users.
Twitter was no longer just a tool to track celebrities on their rhinestone-encrusted smartphones; it became THE way to pre-promote for any savvy marketer.
Whether you are just now getting into social media or you are already in the know, these current articles should be great idea generator and navigators for you:
>> 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business
>> ...And here's a list of 42 quick and cool social media tips...
>> Understanding and Aligning the Value of Social media
>> Why You Should Be Looking at Twitter
>> How To Sell Social Media to Cynics, Skeptics and Luddites
>> Social Media Rule #1: Always Give 'Em Something To Talk About
>> A Guide to Media Tweeter Lists
>> Web 2.0 is So Over, Welcome to Web 3.0
>> Want to See Where The Media Is Going? Follow the Money
>> FlowingData -- one of the better tweeting social media leaders. FlowingData.com is the website...
>> ...Oh, and this guy is pretty good, too.
>> Track the top twitter elite users, get twitsnips, badges, button makers and search by region, topic and more at TwitterGrader
>> Create free customizable Twitter backgrounds
But...is Twitter killing blogs and blogging?
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Tuesday, January 27, 2009,
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, January 25, 2009,
Social media is all the rage online.
But do you know what it means or how it works? How much time have you spent "digging" in and learning from the latest tools? Webinars are available almost daily from hundreds of online businesses exploring the infant power of micro-blogging and interlacing all of a company's online and traditional media platforms.
And how exactly do you "sell" it...to your CFO or other financial decision makers, let alone to the marketplace for revenue?
Traditional media -- radio, TV and newspapers -- are far behind the curve here. And sadly, the good people still slugging it out in traditional media hardly have the time to learn on their own as they've been saddled with staff cuts and more than one-job-to-many to cover for the people let go.
For the past few weeks, I've been re-immersing myself in social media. Had to...I was a staff cut. It's fascinating and exciting. You can literally "see" the growth right there in front of you. Online. But what about with radio...any growth happening there?
Sure, in places, but it's not so easy to see it. While radio groups generally continue to record strong quarterly cash-flow/EBITA profits and are maintaining healthy revenues, all the weak economic forecasts for the entire advertising industry eclipse (at least for now) any good news stories about radio. While initiatives like Virgin Radio in Canada could bear positive fruit, it was immediately followed up with 23 job cuts for Astral. On the same day it was announced Clear Channel in the U.S. cut 1,850 jobs. After a year where CBS Radio has cut 750 cuts from their 140 station group.
The public knows -- and the market knows -- growth industries don't cut jobs. When industries are hiring -- when companies have a hard time filling their open slots for talent -- the public and the market gives that industry their confidence and can see the growth. They want to invest because they see the companies investing in themselves. Cutbacks only mean one thing -- growth is somewhere else.
You want to see growth? Just look at these stats.
So where can radio get growth again? Where can it invest?
Oh, and it might want to consider a few more things. Here's some suggestions:
• Treat your station like a social media website...a place that consistently refreshes and surprises with new content, supplied by the talent, programming and, most importantly, by the listeners (through twitter, IM, email comments, etc. and recorded and live messages). Let THEM contribute; tear down the wall between the station and the listener. Make sure your website includes all the tools for your talent AND your listeners to participate and contribute new ideas and general commentary on whatever THEY choose (of course, staying within community standards).
• Make sure your website is the center of multiple destinations all related and pointed to each other on the web, through fans and group profiles on Facebook and MySpace, etc, Twitter, blogs, and more.
• Be the most local media for your community and, specifically, your target audience.
• Pay attention to what your listeners need and make sure you remain flexible as an organization to give listeners what they need...not maybe sometime in the near future.
• Avoid template formatting. Keep every station locally-distinctive to that market, even if it voice-tracks or uses syndicated programming. Your sound and your unique content (even it is re-packaged) is your unique selling proposition.
• Stop sounding exactly the same every day with your announcers using nearly the same 180 words during their show as they used the day before, only in a slightly different order. Your listeners want to know "what's new", not "what's the same".
• Get away from auto pilot programming. Yes, it is cheaper to run in auto pilot and it does create short-term operating gains...but radio is reaching (or already has reached) the tipping point of being forever branded as stale -- to the public, to advertisers, and to investors -- as new media (and the universal praise for new media) constantly remains new -- and even more new tomorrow. Build more custom programming (even when pre-produced) and adapt operational structures to manage it.
• Encourage talent to do new things, to explore...even within mostly music/tight formats. Encourage them to try and to seek out...and allow them the room to apply that on-air. Nurture them more to grow, learn and apply in fresh ways.
• While we need brand consistency, that doesn't mean what we program on Tuesday should sound exactly like it did on Monday. Around the set playlist, the local, live and fresh content matters! The question talent needs to ask itself before every show is "What does my listener need to know about today?"
• If you choose to promote something, never do it halfway (or less). Promote it with all your muscle and creativity, with no excuses. And never water it down by trying to promote more than one major thing at a time. If it's important, it should become what all of your audience is talking about.
Radio is a healthier media platform than it realizes. It is still a heavyweight of the media class. But it needs a new training program that can help it keep up with the times. It needs the leadership and the courage to invest in the right areas for present and future growth. Where do you want to go today?
Here's some more suggestions...and a great primer to catch you up on the reasons why.
Hold on a second, I just got tweeted...
Chris Kennedy is a media trend watcher, radio program director, market researcher, change agent and strategist serving media companies throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and South America. Look for him his at twitter.com/kennedycs, facebook.com, the Jointblog for media trend watching, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 514-826-9250.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Friday, January 23, 2009,
Last month, fmqb published their year-end issue asking various media leaders their thoughts on the state of the radio industry. Here is what John Parikhal wrote:
The necessary steps the radio industry should take to ensure the future growth and viability of the business begins with low-hanging fruit: cheap and easy ways for radio to make more money.
1. Dump bad initiatives and start good ones: HD is DOA. Spend your time and energy tapping everyone except the most senior executives, who seem to spend too much time with each other and not enough in the trenches. Stop surrounding yourselves with `suck-ups' who agree with bad ideas because they are afraid for their jobs.
2. Push hard for a 30-59 demo buy: For decades, radio has been driven by advertiser's demands for 25-54. It's so out of date. Get modern. Already, 16 million Baby Boomers are 55-59. They spend billions and radio ignores them. In the next four years, another 16 million will be 55-59. Meanwhile, 25-29 year-olds are less interested in radio than ever. Get real. And, if I hear `we can't tell advertisers what to do'- stop acting like a victim.
3. Encode song ID: A simple, inexpensive fix. Make sure that when you play a song, the title shows up on car radios. iPod does it. Satellite does it. But some stations won't spend the money, even though 50% of radio listeners want to know the titles each time they are played.
4. Tap into your 2.0 employees: Get serious about innovation. It's usually `bottom up'. Radio has proven you can't do it top down. The best ideas come from those closest to the customer. Put a process in place to listen to your employees who actually interact with your listeners and advertisers.
5. Advertise: Stop acting like poverty stricken corner stores who cut their ad budgets when sales are down. Act like serious players. Let people know what you're doing, what's new and why you matter. You have to spend the money! Build it into the budget and don't cut it if times get a bit tough. Yes, it's a financial crisis now. If you plan to be here in three years, you have to act like it now or you won't be here in three years.
6. Learn about your customers: Do you know that fewer than 4% of your listeners ever text a radio station? Do you know that almost 25% of those who go to a station Web site are also listening to at least one other Internet-only station too? You learn this by researching your customers. I do a lot of market research for clients ranging from radio to Internet companies. The reason for the market research is because I learned 40 years ago that if you take your eye off the customer, they take their eye (and ear) off you.
7. Get serious about your Web site: Update at least every day. Optimize search. Make it easy to find the `listen' button. Include a phone number in your `contact us' information. Post lots of photos. Do usability testing.
8. Adapt to the new world: Drop the clichéd slogans and connect with the real world. Accept that 30+ listeners are the future for at least another 5-10 years and figure out how to make them really happy with you.
Leaders today have to find broadcasters who want to encourage younger people to come into the industry. Decide if you plan to be in business in three years. If you do, then stop getting rid of your intellectual capital like human beings who actually come up with the ideas and do the work. Without fresh blood, the industry will become almost completely networked and syndicated. At that point, it's nothing more than a transmitter business. Like the oil pipeline business instead of the business of finding oil.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, January 04, 2009,