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Monday, April 25, 2011
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Facebook, Twitter, Radio, Response

It's nearly a year since I dove into social networks. After watching radio leaders moving the industry towards social media, my goal was to understand what it was that I was missing.

In May 2010, we explored how radio station web sites were interacting with socializing in an article titled "Radio Industry and Facebook - Phenom or Failure?" I was only beginning to see how Twitter and Facebook stacked up against other ways of getting your name out, online. I did not possess a hint on how to proof a theory - any theory - about social network response at the time.

Of course, we all say an objective is "get people to visit our web site." But the question that nobody seems to be asking is whether results are worth the effort.

I have now spent hundreds of hours in analytics, constructing a message hierarchy, and drafting an approach for the tracking of message posts vs. web site visits.

"To maximize response you must post the essence of a message multiple times, which requires re-writing..." Here's something to consider - posted by VISIBLI, a company that's spent considerably more time understanding social media than I have: Facebook posts receive 50% of their Likes within the first 1 hour 20 minutes of being published, 80% within the first 7 hours, and 95% within the first 22 hours.

The above reinforces something said here on Sept. 28, 2010: "From a marketing perspective, Facebook and Twitter need to be used in much the same manner as a radio ad campaign. Think of a radio station's AQH as being the potential audience a single Tweet or Facebook post will reach. Only those friends or followers who are online at the time your message is listed will be exposed. If either group delays accessing, your message moves to a position listed as a 'More' or 'Older Post' option, which means the reader must go to 'page 2.' This dramatically alters the number of folks who read what you've written."

In the use of Facebook and Twitter, Reach and Frequency apply to the same degree of importance as that assigned in broadcast media. Formulas for R&F are found at Arbitron's Purple Book - page 33, where the company lays out these two elements to explain it.

How many different people hear the spot at least once during its plays on the air?
How many times, on average, does the listener hear the spot?

Here is where the real "work" of maintaining a social network platform comes in, and these words are seldom spoken by experts at radio industry seminars.

We'll cover response to Facebook and Twitter posts first, as determined by my proprietary evaluation system. To have your radio staion pull the full benefit of its own social ventures, you'll need a similar system for accounting and reporting what happens after the post.

At the heart of tracking, keep tabs on what you say. (Click to Enlarge)

Because where visitors arrive "from" can be tracked, it's possible to attach the number of visits from a web site (Facebook) on a given day. Evaluating response against the amount of work required to "post" the message allows me to draw conclusions on the efficacy of my social network actions. Perhaps you can use the following information to help yourself.

This is a breakout of RRadio Music visitors over four periods of time, as a percentage of total visitors against the visitors coming from Search, Facebook, and Twitter.

As % of Total Site Visits Search Facebook Twitter
Oct-Dec 2010 31% 2.8% 0.34
Oct 2010 - Yesterday 31.3% 2.2% 0.29
Jan 1 - Yesterday 31.4% 1.8% 0.26
Past 30 Days 30.4% 3% 0.23

I recently added LinkedIn to this list. So far, without enough data to draw a firm conclusion, I will only say that the LinkedIn response appears slightly higher than Facebook.

As you consider how many resources to place behind a social network strategy, also think about these few points:
After the initial setup, and a couple hours each month spent monitoring, "Search"
cost nothing yet draws considerably more visitors.
Because of message character limits, to properly submit on Twitter requires
visiting a URL shortening web site like bitly, which requires time.
Facebook allows more fexibility which requires additional time be spent after
formulating the message to add elements like pictures, album covers, event
notices, etc..
To maximize response you must post the essence of a message multiple times,
which requires re-writing - another time-eater.
If you want to know whether the work is worth the effort, you need to set up
tracking - requiring additional time to gather and analyze the data. Then to
benefit from this work, you'll need to set aside time for implementing upgrades
to improve results.

For the person interested in reaching as many people in as efficient a way possible, seeing the numbers will cause you to give deep consideration before diving into social media. Doing it because every radio station is putting up a Facebook page may seem appropriate; but if you remove the emotion and just read the numbers, you can't help but walk away asking, "Is response worth the effort?"

Give me another six months of analysis and I will have a definitive answer. Push me for my opinion today and I lean towards finding an alternative form of gathering an audience.

For the radio industry, social media still appears to be an area where everyone is talking and nobody is listening.

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