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AG News: 10/19/2010


Social Network Importance to Radio Industry

There's a growing buzz about social networks that should be addressed before it gets too far out of proportion with reality.

No matter which medium we turn to today we see the word Facebook, the "Kleenex" of social networks. Facebook is important in the lives of many bloggers, journalists, and marketing VPs who want to appear on the cutting edge. Whether that edge is bleeding isn't as important as the appearance that "you are there."

I've spent the better part of the past decade deeply involved in analytics and metrics, at times trying to pull together a system allowing the radio industry to use the internet in delivering a definitive ROI number to advertisers.

Measuring is the only way to manage, to know if actions produce positive or negative results. Staying updated on the variety of techniques for collecting data, and how to digest it for meaning, can be called the cutting edge of accountability in technology today. It's less bleeding than in previous years, with profits already being made, but there's still lots of room to grow.

One area with huge growth potential is the new world of social media. Whether its growth materializes depends on if we figure out how to efficiently use it for interacting with consumers.

From a business perspective, one can't help but see the enormity of social networks and wonder how a company can benefit. Many major organizations are exploring how to turn social networks into a revenue generator. Few have made headway.

Viewing social networks with the same business perspective are smaller industries, like radio, which do not take time to explore and learn about social networks. They end up with a basic understanding, and then just dive in. Decisions on social network strategy are formed without fully comprehending the "effort=results" formula required for success.

Most radio industry executives make decisions about creating a Facebook page without knowing if the effort will draw results, or to what degree manpower must be committed for success.

Audio Graphics recently completey its 50th survey of internet radio listeners, done with support from esteemed, local revenue, research firm Borrell Associates. See the total survey results here.

One topic in this survey concerned social networks. With respect to the question "How important is the time you spend on 'social network' websites to your personal social life?", persons making decision within the radio industry need to note what those survey respondents are saying.

For managers whose stations serve an older audience: Note that 61.3% of the 45+ crowd answer the question with "Not important at all"; another 24.2% respond that it's "Less important than other parts of my life."

While digesting these numbers, look at how the 12-44 year old grouping answers the same question: 36.3% claim social networking is "Not important at all," and 40.3% say it's "Less important than other parts of my life."





The striking aspect of these charts is this: In only two years, we went from having a portion of every age group claim that social networks were the "most important part" of their lives to having that same category slip below the radar in 12-17, 25-34, 45-49, and 55+ age groups in 2010. Compare 2008 and 2010 survey results here.

While we do see an increase in 12-17, 18-24, 55+ now claiming social networks are "as important as any other part of my life," there is larger growth in the number of people in most demos who claim social networks are "not important at all." I believe these latter numbers will continue to rise over the next eighteen months, maybe faster if Facebook doesn't square away it's Wall Street Journal-reported problems with privacy.

It's been said here on a few occasions that the work involved in developing a social network presence doesn't appear to produce returns for any web site with a low number of monthly visitors. And although I am not giving up on the research required to answer if a social network page is needed in the radio industry, I have seen nothing so far to indicate that extensive time devoted to "working" a social network page produces results worth the effort of upkeep.

The results from Audio Graphics' 50th survey of online radio listeners, produced with support from Borrell Associates, does not show that putting energy into social networks is wrong. But comparing this year's survey against the same questions asked in 2008 does show how quickly everything changes.

The radio industry doesn't have time to be chasing online ghosts anymore; decide if social networks fall into this category.





From: John Dutton
KC Cafe Radio

I have to concur, in that personally, I've never gotten into the whole 'social networking' thing... partly because (I think) my age (I'm 44), and partly because of my skepticism that SN services such as Facebook and Twitter are 'fads' that sooner or later seem to fade away (remember when MySpace was considered to be 'da bomb?' - to coin an also now-defunct phrase, apparently).

Having said that, at KC Cafe Radio we have found both of these services to have done a lot at bringing us a rather respectable audience without a lot of financial marketing investment. And that's important when you're running a 'shoe string' operation!

But, consistent with your survey results, we've noticed a slight decline in the impact participating in these activities have brought to the operation over the last few years. Which begs the question, 'what's next then?'

Email marketing seemed to have become passe a long time ago. And although I don't keep my 'ear to the ground' as much as I should, I don't really hear anything coming along that's going to be the 'next big thing' in the social networking arena.

The question seems to have been asked, now what's the answer?... Might be interesting fodder for your next article! :)


















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President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997



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