For decades, radio station morning shows have pulled pranks and stunts on April 1st designed to be fun, to get maximum attention in their communities, and enjoy a little springtime April foolery.
Sometimes they swap hosts with competing stations...or changes languages...or their entire format for a day.
Some become famous, some infamous. Some are just bad.
Why do they do it? Well, at its best, radio is mental theatre for listeners, painting imagines and pictures in our minds. With a station's normal format, it can get a little stale-feeling and repetitious, especially to the programmers and announcers. By stunting for a day, it can freshen things for everyone and have some fun.
Mostly harmless, although not always.
This link has a quick history of April Fool's Day.
I wonder what crazy pranks will happen when we wake up tomorrow and turn on the radio? At the time of this blog post, it's a Twittering Trend for social media chat today.
Then again, office pranksters are pretty good, too...maybe you'll walk into work and see a surprise there...
For a list of the Top 100 all-time best radio pranks, click here (MuseumOfHoaxes.com).
And a few more here and here.
Googleheads know that Google takes radio's April Fool's Day pranks to heart and does their own versions of them. Since 2000, they've done some excellent ones, including showing exactly how their search algorithms work (hint: pigeons at terminals).
Here's a rundown from the BusinessInsider detailing Google's annual pranks.
Just like on the radio, I wonder what Google has in store for us tomorrow...
Will Facebook or Twitter pranks us next?
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Tuesday, March 31, 2009,
Current TV goes media trend watching into the Twitterverse explaining the Twouble with Twitters. Beware of causing a Fail Whale!
It seems everyone is suddenly a-twittering...even The Ellen Show. Yes, even The View, too.
Radio still is slow to join the conversation...but I am noticing more coming on board lately.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Monday, March 23, 2009,
Traditional brands have had a hard time figuring out social media. They are used to old marketing models where they keep firm control of the message.
Create a brand phrase or concept and then repeat it millions of time on whatever media platforms, getting as much exposure as possible. The adage "If they say it often enough, it must be true" has been the prevailing wisdom for decades. The hoped-for by-product? "Gosh, if they are willing to spend so much money to tell me something about their product, it must be true...so I'll buy it."
All the traditional ad markets have softened: TV, newspapers, radio, magazines. And the projections for the next few years look tough.
For decades, consumers have been sold, pitched, cajoled, and almost guilted in buying products through the magic of marketing and advertising.
Why are the ad markets hurting? Psychologically, making a purchase satisfies many possible things: taking care of a need; a want; a desire; or for preventing something they fear. That is no different today than from previous generations. Traditional media still "sells" needs, wants, desire and fear-fixers.
It's just that today's consumers want more than simply being told to buy something before they make a purchase.
They want to engage.
They want to hear from other consumers to validate their own thinking about the brand choice.
They want their own voice heard.
So far, traditional brand marketing has been slow and inconsistent in its success using social (or user-generated) media for marketing.
Remember the user-generated Dorito's Super Bowl TV ads?
What about the GM's Chevy Tahoe SUV ad contest?
Just in the last few weeks, Skittles set the Twitterverse afire by changing their main brand homepage to their Twitter profile, then to their Facebook profile. To help their customers "Interweb the rainbow", users create custom "garageband-like" audio themes using various Skittles audio clips. What did it get them? Lots of social media hype, more than 630,000 Facebook friends (M&M's Facebook site only has 25,000 fans)...and an increase of their web traffic by more than 1,325% the first day it launched the campaign.
So can a brand do well by saying "Screw You, Recession"? One is trying...and using social media to do it.
Here's a site blending social media merged with an established brand. Go to ScrewTheRecession.ca/ and it comes from the new thinkers over at Virgin. Virgin tends to embrace marketing experiments; I think it's worthwhile to check it out. Tying in recession concerns with younger people, it's a blog with a heavy user comment section, simple Virgin Mobile advertising and various topics sections on money, living, fashion, going out, tech and more. Plus they Twitter and Facebook it tying it together.
The impact: How can you (the consumer) screw the recession? You need your cellphone. Screw the recession by using a Virgin Mobile cellphone.
They've done some cool research through the site on their users.
As reported this week in Virgin Mobile press release of their JD Power study:
"Virgin Mobile Canada has created a mood meter that ranges from "Everything Sucks Huge" (red) to "The Recession Ain't Getting Me Down" (green). The five-stage colourcoded system shows that – this week – young Canadians are on Yellow Alert ("Sorta' Freaking Out Right Now"), which means:The only thing they miss is not tying it into their Virgin Radio sites. It's a natural partner.
* Biting nails - 72% are anxious about their future
* Brand disloyalty - 41% have given up a brand they love
* Show me the value! - 52% are open to trying value brands
* Chic-onomics - 88% have changed their shopping habits
* Recessionistas - 42% are making "noticeable sacrifices"
* Unemployment - 42% fear being unemployed
* Politics - 57% say they don't believe a change in government would change anything
* The Simple Life - 75% want a simpler life.
The Mood Meter looks exclusively at the impact the recession is having on young people's (17-35s) lives, how they're feeling about the state of the economy and what the recession means to them. It's also a barometer of their thoughts and shopping habits, as well as their feelings on how brands are behaving. See Virgin Mobile’s www.screwyourecession.ca."
Cross-platform connection on contemporary consumer demands, needs, desires or fears...with the consumer front-and-centre contributing and sharing the content.
The audience (listeners/customers) are the drivers...all we in media have to do is provide the proper vehicles for them to get where they want to go and what they want right now.
That's how brand marketing can use social media to its advantage.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Friday, March 20, 2009,
Did you know that of all adult Internet users in North America, one-in-three maintained a social networking profile last year (according to Nielsen Media Research? Despite its sudden rise in popularity, lots of people are still asking "What is Twitter?" (now the #3 social networking site on the web).
Twitter, as twitheads know it, is a micro-blogging website where ideas can be shared with friends (or "followers"), 140 characters at a time -- from your computer or smart phone. Some think of it as a tool that bridges the gap between your social profile (like UnHub, Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn) and your blog. Others think of it as something that shares "behind-the-scenes" thoughts in real-time (where I'm at, what I'm doing right now).
So, what is twitter to me? I see it as the today's smarter form of old-school "water cooler talk".
It's collaboration and shared conversation, like seeing and participating in Seth Godin's "Tribes" concept as it happens.
And a great way for brands to take care of customers (by listening).
Additional media trend watchers even think Twitter could challenge Google in the search business, because Twittering is real-time search.
In business, it can be a great way to boost your company's online brand reputation, build your business and establish a closer interactive link with your customers.
However, advertisers still view social as an experimental business model, which means traditional media remains a little slow embracing it.
Twitter is whatever you want it to be. A public "instant message" forum, a professional marketing or PR tool, a job hunt assistant, or a buzz monitor on what's hot right now. It all depends on the network you build of people you follow and who follows you.
Most major news sources (both national and local) are there for breaking news and web updates (@CNN, @ABCnews, @CBSnews, @NBCnews, @CBCnews, as well as online sources like @DrudgeReport, @HuffingtonPost, @The Daily Show, @The Colbert Report, @The Onion, @Gawker, etc.).
Celebrities are doing it (@Aston Kutcher, @Demi Moore, @Jimmy Fallon). Celebrity impersonators are doing it (a sexy fake @Megan Fox or a drunk @Lindsay Lohan). @Paris Hilton doesn't use it as much lately; maybe that's because gossip blogger @Perez Hilton is now there (with 240,000 followers).
Marketing gurus (@Guy Kawasaki, @Chris Brogan) are doing it. AOL's founder and creator of the Instant Message is tweeting instead of IMing (@Steve Case). Major brands are doing (@Skittles). Even @Barack Obama was doing it on the campaign trail, helping him build up grass-roots support.
So what exactly is Twitter? View this simple explanation video below and get twittering:
Even NBC's The Today Show shows you how to do it:
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Thursday, March 19, 2009,
Over the years, music analyst Bob Lefsetz has built up a brand name as a media gadfly, straight-shooting from his point-of-view and taking on the powers-that-be. He knows how to stir it up.
On Thursday, Bob decided to comment -- throwing lots of punches through his newsletter -- about one of the keynote speakers at this week's Canadian Music Week conference in Toronto: rock star and master promoter Gene Simmons of KISS.
Of course, Gene responded...with a lot of humour and more self-promotion.
This sent the conference attendees into a twitter frenzy.
Conference organizer Neill Dixon quickly set up a head-to-head discussion setting the conference abuzz, as everyone got ready for a cage match.
The event happened at 4PM Friday at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto in front of a very large audience. The video below shows the discussion (NSFW; caution - explicit language):
In the end, this head-to-head confrontation may not have changed anything about the music industry. It certainly didn't solve anything, including their differences. It did entertain and it generated some attention both for the Bob and Gene as well as for the conference. Promotionally, it worked.
Bob's assessment in retrospect?
"What an asshole."
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Saturday, March 14, 2009,
Twitter just jumped its total number of users in the last couple of weeks -- from 6 million to 8 million -- due to more mainstream media coverage (The Daily Show, morning radio shows, newspapers, many others). Leading "Tribes" maven and Senior Purple Cow Seth Godin refuses to tweet. To find out why, go to the 9:15 mark of this Ted 2009 conference interview (February 5, 2009):
Whether or not you use Twitter, social media needs to be part of your modern marketing plan. To marketing messages to have impact today, they need to feed into consumer's needs for convenience, connection, community and control. They want to be fans and to share through positive word of mouth. The key is provide content for your brand's most passionate users to help spread the word and praise.
That's how you get customers in your store today.
Marketing Sherpa says in a recent survey that over 90% of companies believe social media is most effective in building brand reputation and awareness, with direct marketing objectives falling into the second tier expectations.
Spotting upcoming social networking trends is important in the world of word-of-mouth campaigning. Brand enthusiasm is an essential ingredient when building brand awareness. It immediately has the strongest potential of converting into sales and extended customer loyalty.
Just as Seth Godin believes. You may not see him posting Twitter...but, believe me, he loves seeing his fans tweet about him and his books.
Hey, if you are a fan of this article, tweet it!
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Wednesday, March 11, 2009,
Yesterday, we posted on how radio needs to listen more to its fans and give them what they need and want. The need to grow interaction opportunities. To be opportunistic.
Well, a station just did an excellent job doing exactly that. When it was reported earlier this week that Barack Obama didn't even own a radio (not exactly sure how that is even possible in today's world where radios are naturally part of several common products), radio station WIHT (the top-notch station Hot 99.5) came to the rescue, delivering several different kinds of radios, including an iPod with a radio adapter, a new HD Radio device, a new iPhone with ClearChannel "iheartradio" streaming app, and even a traditional counter-top radio.
Hot 99.5FM's morning man is Kane. Kane, you've done it again. Kudos for another outstanding example of reacting to news and turning it into a major opportunity to connect with your audience!
As reported by Radio and Records's Kevin Carter (hey, that's two straight days of referencing you, buddy...good work!):
A few days ago, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs casually remarked that he didn’t own a radio ... which immediately opened up a whole world of promotional opportunities for certain enterprising radio types who generously wanted to help remedy Gibbs’ dire situation — with full brass-band press coverage, of course.
Yesterday afternoon, it was WIHT (Hot 99.5)/Washington morning personality Kane to the rescue! With the help of Clear Channel Communications Queen Lisa Dollinger, Kane organized a motorcade to the White House to personally deliver to Gibbs an assortment of gadgets and doohickeys that pick up radio signals, including an iPod with radio adapter, HD Radio and Clear Channel’s iheartradio app for the iPhone. Before the motorcade departed, Kane explained his bold actions: “Radio played a crucial role in getting Mr. Gibbs his current job. The Obama campaign outspent all others on radio and ran more ads than any other campaign. And while we realize that government salaries don’t always match those in the private sector, Clear Channel Radio believes that’s no reason to be without the most ubiquitous form of media in the country.”
Kane was one of several alert media types, including Ann Compton of ABC Radio News and WTOP/Washington’s Mark Plotkin, who were able to evade the Secret Service long enough to deliver their radios to Gibbs.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Friday, March 06, 2009,
Being Program Director of Montreal's Q92, I can attest to the following story as reported in this morning's R&R STREET TALK DAILY. Everyday the station receives phone calls from listeners offering tips, local observations or simply asking questions about things they needed answered. I would get them directly to my phone line, too.
It's one of radio's remaining secret success ingredients that needs protecting and better positioning against competing media. Local Connection and Immediate Feedback.
In other words, it's called Customer Satisfaction.
How well is your station actually responding and interacting with your active listeners? These 'actives' -- your fans -- want immediate connection. Are you giving it to them?
Here's WNCI/Columbus, OH PD Michael McCoy's great email (thanks to R&R's Kevin Carter):
"The other day, I was in the studio, talking to my afternoon jock Chris Davis, when a listener called to tell him about a bad accident that would be sure to snarl traffic for the afternoon commute. They had a brief conversation, and Chris quickly edited and aired it within five minutes. We may take that brief listener interaction for granted, but it is truly unique when compared to competing media.
A few quick thoughts: 1) We already have a relationship with that listener. They thought to call us about the accident. 2) It was that human-to-human interaction that helped create the relationship. 3) There’s an immediacy in which the information was relayed to other listeners, setting the foundation for and/or furthering other relationships. 4) Central Ohio listeners trust in WNCI.
Later, in my office, I wanted to see if my iPod had anything to say about relationship-building, but it just stared blankly back at me. I wanted to talk to someone at Sirius XM about it, but I’m fairly sure they have no idea where '23 & Home Road' is. I then Googled 'human-to-human interaction', but all I got were porn sites...."
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Thursday, March 05, 2009,
With all this blogging, twittering and online yelling at strangers, something positive has got to happen. Right? As this great social media graphic shows, it must be true. Yes...?
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Wednesday, March 04, 2009,
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Monday, March 02, 2009,