Expecting More from Traditional Media

At a recent Chamber of Commerce event in my town, I had a chat with the Operations and Sales Manager for a local radio station. As we talked about Social Media, it was completely obvious that he really didn’t care (and certainly didn’t understand) about the power of Social Media. In fact, when I gave an example of how Social Media improves the reach of their streaming Internet signal, being heard in markets as far away as Europe. He actually said “so what? Where the value for us being heard in Europe”. Honestly, I sat gob-smacked for a moment, as I wrapped my head around a sales manager not understanding the value to some of the businesses that contract to the station for advertising. “How about EVERY tourism based business that advertises on your station”. Suddenly, the light went on.

Doing it because the other guy is

Slowly, pretty well every form of traditional media (radio, TV, newspapers, etc), have jumped on the Social Media band wagon. Most, however, do it only because their competition is, without a strategy or focus, or even a goal. The Operations Manager I was speaking with was very pleased with the fact that their iPhone app had been downloaded over 12,000 times, but entirely missed the fact that this app was being downloaded to mobile devices. You know, those devices that have at least one Social Media app that a user can share what they are doing. Right now. Like listening to the radio station.

Their Websites feature Social Media links for people to access, yet there is little engagement or activity, mainly because their Social Media channels are managed by someone that has the task as a second or third hat. This one station has almost 2,400 “Likes” on their Facebook page, with virtually no conversation, or interaction with followers, on things they post, making you asks “why is this here?” Twitter is even worse, with fewer than 600 Followers and little in the way of interaction with those followers and, as I lead into the point of this post, virtually no discussion about the businesses that advertise with them.

The Ad Puzzle is Incomplete

Some of my personal business clients have virtually abandoned traditional media in favour of Social Media. I don’t recommend it, but they have obviously seen the value of their own engagement on Social Media, over the ROI on what they spend on traditional advertizing. While I suggest ways that they can leverage that traditional advertising with Social Media features, they decide against it. Why? Because those traditional media outlets are not helping them with that aspect of their promotion. It is an opportunity lost, because traditional media players cannot understand their place in Social Media, especially in smaller markets. Without a Social Media marketing plan or strategy of their own, it is nearly impossible for traditional media outlets to help their clients integrate Social Media into the advertizing package. Without traditional media understanding how Social Media helps create brand advocates through shared conversations, the chances of them adding it into their advertizing packages becomes even more unlikely.

The Field is Wide Open. RUN!

Social Media being used by traditional media is still relatively new, with the only real hurdle being the convincing of the old school owners, managers and talent. What is needed is to make sure that the old school does feel that their way of doing things isn’t being replaced, but rather being enhanced. Larger market traditional media has always fared better than smaller market, but now the field is being leveled by all outlets being able to reach the same numbers, globally. Here are a few ideas to explore, in order for traditional media outlets to leverage Social Media, rather than to simply use it.

  1. Feature Ads on Facebook Pages. Local radio and newspapers can feature their advertising clients, by simply adding images and links of their clients brands into the daily Social Media conversations.
  2. Tweet “Today’s Morning Drive/Show Time sponsored by @brandx in #mytown. Listen Live at www.ourstation.com”
  3. Engage with users that are WAY outside the traditional reach of signal. A conversation with a listener / reader on another continent generates interest that supports clients that want to access that market.
  4. Dedicate a staff member to working the Social Media channels, in conjunction with on air talent, reporters and sales people. They manage the conversations created by others and add the appropriate advertising client when the opportunity presents.
  5. Create a Social Media policy and marketing strategy that INCLUDES the advertising clients, and live by it!

Social Media is the best way to create new audiences for traditional media companies, as well as enhancing the experience for those who already follow. Make the effort to share that exposure and experience with your advertising clients and a whole new market opens up.


Sean Smith

Sean is Managing Partner in ThatSocialMediaGuy.com, a Social Media consulting company based in Campbell River, BC. Sean has almost 20 years of experience in the IT industry, from a HelpDesk Manager to business owner. Sean has been active on Social Media platforms, since joining LinkedIn in 2005. Since then he has consulted on the development of Social Media strategies for a wide variety of businesses, from retail to tourism, instructed at workshops, been a guest and keynote speaker at various conferences, has been working as the tech/start-up author for Steamfeed.com and has recently become the Editor of the Social Media Camp Blog.

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