Country Radio and Social Media

Here is an interesting article from SOCIAL RADIO PROS on Country radio and social media:

There has been a huge focus on moving radio brands to the internet.  Internet ad revenue has grown exponentially while the spot business has declined.  Conversation and activity in building VIP Clubs, Twitter, Facebook, and My Space accounts at the station level has been intense.  All that effort going in a number of different directions takes time, money, and people.

One of the strengths and hallmarks of country radio over the years has been its relationship to the fans.  As PPM drives many stations to reduce the on air conversation and crank up the jukebox, that communication and companionship with fans has changed or even disappeared.  We wanted to see just how good country radio is doing engaging and talking to the audience.

Unlike web metrics like unique users, page views, or server side streaming sessions, the number of fans who come to a stations Facebook page, or Twitter account are very public.  Its easy to see and compare.  This may be the one single “ratings” system that is completely open to all.

We wanted to apply specific metrics to the stations.  Mediabase weighing has a large cume component in it.  We can’t avoid it with the internet either.  There will be a bit of a cume component in this methodology as well.  Bigger populations give stations a bigger pool of potential listeners to become followers or fans. While there is no way to judge the level of engagement of fans or followers at this point, a raw count would be a good way to rate a station’s success.  We settled on these numbers as a way to rank how social country radio stations are at the end of 2009.

1)Number of Facebook fans
2)Number of Twitter fans
3)Unique posts on either service in a week

One way to tell for certain that Facebook is a real thing–check the “For Dummies” books. These books don’t get printed unless there is a solid market. Now, there’s a new Facebook Marketing For Dummies book available online, or in your local bookstore. Facebook is the second largest web site in the world.  Only Google has more site traffic. Unlike Google, you can  completely control what happens on your Facebook page, and how you rank. It seems obvious your listeners are likely going to Facebook, long before they come to your stations web site. Go where the listeners are seems to be an easy answer if you want to build a positive listener experience and grow your own site. With all that as background, it seems stunning that Facebook’s fan pages are not being used by several top 50 market country stations.  If they are being used, it was impossible from the home page of the station web site to find the Facebook link.

Twitter is another site frequented by most of the audience.  Twitter ranks as fifteenth most visited web site in the U.S.  Twitter essentially is non existent at country radio, with the exception of a couple standouts.  The vast majority of country stations have well under 1,000 followers on Twitter.  A few stations used Twitter only to tweet their playlists.  The low follower numbers on these stations would suggest that is not a good use of the tool.  Like Facebook, a number of stations either did not have Twitter accounts, or those accounts were impossible to find on the home pages.

One of the most important parts of becoming involved in social media is being in the conversation.    Social media is a two way street.  Brands like Zappos.com and Dell, built their businesses on great customer service.  These brands have introduced a new position, the Online Community Manager, at their companies.  This position is a real job with substantial pay.  These companies have worked hard at increasing the engagement of their companies with their clients.  In interviews with stations, we found most of the social media activity is generated by a single dedicated employee.  There are exceptions, and the most social country station on Facebook, whom you’ll read about shortly, does it differently.

As radio stations have moved more and more to syndicated programming and imported voice tracking, the conversations between the stations and listeners have diminished.  The engagement has fallen away.  Radio seems stuck between two worlds.  Are we simply a carrier of content, like the internet?  Or do we produce stellar content for digital and over the air distribution.  You can’t just post a site or a page, leave it alone, and expect growth.  There are some exceptional performers at country radio, stations that were able to get it all done.

The country music station who has the highest number of Facebook fans is Roanoke’s WSLC 94.9 Star Country.  Star has nearly triple the number of Facebook fans as its nearest country competitor with nearly 27,000 fans on their page as of the end of December.  The large number of fans drives tremendous response to the page as well.  Most posts from the station get a number of comments and interaction with their community.  We talked with WSLC Star Country Program Director Brett Sharp about their success on Facebook.

Listen to the complete interview with Brett Sharp, Program Director 94.9 Star Country here.

Read the rest of this article HERE.


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