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AG News: 5/21/2010

Radio Industry and Facebook - Phenom or Failure?

Lately, the "social media" cry has grown louder within the radio industry. It appears that hundreds of radio stations are placing Facebook icons on the home page; for what purpose I am only beginning to understand. I am no social media expert. Over the past few years, if I needed answers to the relativity between social media and a web site's visitor I'd turn to a youthful person who was actively involved.

Times change, and my activity in one area has recently led me to learn more about the interaction created by - for this demonstration - the Facebook crowd.

With all the press being given to radio's use of social media I did a little digging to see how the industry is faring with sixteen radio station Facebook pages, did some reading to catch up on a recent change at FB (turning a "Fan" into a "Like"), and I spoke with a couple of folks who use the service. What I uncovered has not given me enough information to draw any conclusion. It has, though, made me ask a few more questions like "are the resources used for social media within a radio station's online activity worth the response it gets?" and "what is it, exactly, that quantifies a 'successful' Facebook page?"

There's an explanation which needs to occur here. Facebook has replaced the word "Fan" on its pages with the work "Like." Until now, as I understand, a "Fan" was similar to a radio P1 listener - a person who associated with, and would devote more time than the average person interacting with the station. By switching to the word "Like," allowing a Facebook visitor to give a "thumbs up" to individual comments, FB has, in the opinion of articles I've read, not changed the underlying mechanics of the system but it will increase the numbers of persons clicking on the "Like" button - in part, due to confusion of the term. Read more here.

This "Fan" and "Like" is an unscientific way to gauge a radio station's Facebook page popularity, though it remains the way most people I've spoken with determine a Facebook page's worth. So, let's go with it in this case.

As of this morning, here is a breakout of radio station web site Facebook page Fans or, as it's now known, "Likes." These radio station web sites were selected at random, after visiting approximately twice the number of radio sites (about half had no Facebook link). Does this mean that half of the radio industry is participating in Facebook? That's an answer we don't have, but we'll move on to the numbers from stations that do have a Facebook page because these numbers represent a comparison against the population of each market (source: US Census). Note that the market population does not include the ADI, only the city of license; which pushes the "percentage of Population as Like/Fan" lower.

Number of Like/Fan Market Population % of Population as Like/Fan Station Format Market Station URL - click Facebook URL - click
1,643 270,789 0.61% WBUL 98.1 The Bull Country Lexington, KY Web Site FB Page
380 552,539 0.07% KWNR 99.5 Country Las Vegas, NV Web Site FB Page
7,656 347,181 2.21% Z107-7 Hits St Louis, MO Web Site FB Page
947 573,358 0.17% 945 Lake FM Hits - Classic Milwaukee, WI Web Site FB Page
3,230 8,214,426 0.04% 77 WABC AM News Talk New York, NY Web Site FB Page
2,086 871,121 0.24% WJR 760 AM News Talk Detroit, MI Web Site FB Page
498 2,833,321 0.02% WLS 890 AM News Talk Chicago, IL Web Site FB Page
695 444,313 0.16% WMJI 105.7 Oldies Cleveland, OH Web Site FB Page
1,895 447,541 0.42% KDKB 93.3 Rock Mesa, AZ Web Site FB Page
14,652 871,121 1.68% 101 WRIF Rock Detroit, MI Web Site FB Page
5,822 733,203 0.79% CD101 WWCD Rock - Alternative Columbus, OH Web Site FB Page
1,632 8,214,426 0.02% Q104.3 WAXQ FM Rock - Classic New York, NY Web Site FB Page
1,891 220,186 0.86% WMMO Rock - Soft Orlando, FL Web Site FB Page
2,028 95,944 2.11% Coast 97.3 WMNX FM Urban Wilmington, NC Web Site FB Page
11,860 486,411 2.44% Hot 107.9 Urban Atlanta, GA Web Site FB Page
7,287 168,033 4.34% Foxy 99.9 WZFX Urban - Hip Hop Fayetteville, NC Web Site FB Page

I am only beginning to understand the interaction of a social media community, so there won't be a "this isn't working" comment here. What I will state after placing the social media icons you see at the bottom of this story is that the coding process, and subsequent daily attention required to maintain a Facebook page, seems to me as plenty of action which delivers little response. Fact is that I need to rework my approach to this social media concept. As this is my first iteration, there are mistakes in execution.

Is Facebook a phenom or failure for the radio industry? It's too early for my opinion.

A lot of work to implement? Here, I do have first-hand knowledge and will underline this thought: Yes, it is a lot of work. But until I am confident that I know what I'm doing with it, I'll keep plucking this chicken.

At this time, I'm just not seeing why many of my "fans" will "like" the information that I just had my asphalt driveway seal-coated... or how many fans of a radio station will "like" enough content on the station's Facebook page to make it worthwhile.

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President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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