Old Media. New Tricks.

Archive for June 2008

This article was originally posted on my personal blog,The Blog According to Buzz.

Guy Kawasaki interviewed Pro Blogger, Darren Rowse, for his Sun Microsystems blog last week and a piece of conversation at the end grabbed me.

Question: What do you think of Seth Godin not having comments on his blog?

Answer: I think that it works well for Seth (as does many things he turns his attention to). While the common convention is to give your readers a space to interact with you in the comments directly below your posts Seth’s chosen to let his readers interact with what he has to say on their own blogs (or with him via email).

From what I can tell, one of his main reasons for this was to cut down the work that he needs to put into comment moderation. I understand the temptation to do this – I’ve just hired someone to help me with this very task on ProBlogger.

However another stroke of genius (I’m not sure if it’s intended) with this approach is that Seth has made his blog a little more viral by not having comments. What happens when he writes something that people want to respond to? In many cases they blog about it – ‘sneezing’ his post further than his current readership.

It’s the type of marketing every.single.producer craves. Word of mouth. It’s not an advertisement, it’s not a pushed out message. It’s an honest to goodness recommendation from a friend to two friends who tell two friends and so on and so on and so on.

In Seth’s case, closing off the conversation forces the conversation to continue in a way that spreads his message. It’s a sneeze that instantly goes viral. It’s fabulous and immediately understood imagery. When Seth catches a cold, he gives to his readers who instantly want to spread it with every.single.other.person. Seth is patient zero.

Most radio stations can’t quite do that – yet. There’s not enough of an army mobilized to take the message and spread it. The passion in the audience just isn’t there, so opening up a forum for conversation on a show blog, or station website would be a good start to foster a sense of community and encourage the listeners who do care.

Seth explored the notion of the marketing sneeze 2 years ago on his site.

Lessons Learned from Trader Joe’s

I was talking with a colleague today about the magic of Trader’s. Here’s how they make billions:

1. they target a consumer that cares a great deal about what they buy at the supermarket. As a result, their customers are more loyal, and more important, are willing to drive farther to get there. This means they can have smaller, lower-rent locations (and fewer of them) which drives up sales per square foot and profits.

2. These customers are big mouths. They sneeze. When they serve something from Trader’s they brag about, they tell the story of the store. This drives down advertising costs.

So how can radio create something to sneeze at?

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Video, Websites are all necessary tools to get the word spread, but unless your tools are properly set up to encourage community and word of mouth, you’ll fall flat. You’ll also need something engaging to be spread – a cold.

The personality needs to be outrageous, the content needs to be contagious, the audience needs to feel engaged and connected to the product to want to sneeze about it anywhere they can.

There’s a disconnect right now. A bridge needs to be built on two fronts. One – from radio to technology. Two – from radio to listener.

Even if you have no grasp whatsoever of the concepts of social media and how they can work for you, you’re one step ahead.  You’re here.  You’re trying.  You’re learning.

Your audience, on the other hand, are miles behind even you.  Which is why you have time.

Mainstream media is skewered for dumbing down the news.  Unfortunately we have to, we’re broadcasting, not narrowcasting and to catch that cume, you’ve got to dumb it down.

The internet can preach to a niche, or chase that long tail because their are economies to be found in those areas, but when it comes to MSM, you just have to cast the biggest net to scoop the most fish, regardless of size, shape, colour or texture.

What’s the easiest way to capture more visitors?

If you’re smart, you’ll know that “dumbing down” is a simple solution.

Why? Because the average adult reads at an eighth-grade level (by US stats).

And according to usability guru Jakob Nielsen, 30 percent of web users have a low level of literacy—with that number rising fast.

That means three out of 10 users will bounce if your words are too brainy. So what sets low-literacy users apart?

For starters, they actually read content rather than merely scanning it. They have to, because they need time to make sense of wording.

They also skip large text blocks and hate scrolling even more than higher-literacy users. So they may miss important information that’s buried. [one degree]

So, yes, a lot of people are using Twitter, or Facebook, or FriendFeed or LinkedIn,  but even more have no idea what you’re talking about.  They’ll catch up, eventually, but this is your chance to better bait the hook.

You’re here, you’re trying to learn about the tools to better communicate and interact with your audience.  When you grab on to them, the early adopters will jump in, then they will start the chorus and spread your message.  It will take a while to trickle down, and while it won’t trickle all the way through, you will get enough of a bump to make it worth the effort.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

Social media is all about a new way to interact with your audience.  No longer do messages move from the top down, they float from the bottom up.  The audience is now the CEO.

Starbucks gets it.  Thats why they have mystarbucksidea.com a perfectly elegant community built on social media ideals where new business ideas and comments on the way things get done can be tossed out for discussion.

my starbucks idea

It’s not just a token message board.  Starbucks reads the ideas and has implemented some of them.

How are you letting your audience be your program director?

My grandfather told me a great lesson about how he was a successful salesman.

Whenever he would call on a client, he didnt just talk to the manager.  He talked to the clerks, to reception, to the assistants.  You see, the man in the corner office may be the boss today, but the ones on the bottom rungs will be the boss tomorrow, or will move to another company to be the boss.

By talking to the rest of the staff, my grandfather was effectively growing his business by creating relationships that would be valuable in the future.  Yes, the assistant wasnt going to be buying his widgets today, but 3 yrs later he was buying them by the bushel.

The same thing is happening with the internet.  We have two generations, one that didnt grow up with it, and one that is.

The managers in power, making decisions now, didnt grow up with this internet, and don’t understand how to use it – but those below are powering it up for a generational coup the likes that has never been seen before.

If you company doesn’t have a social media strategy, a way to reach out and touch your audience and become a part of their lives, they’re going to forget you ever existed.

The youth of today (and youth can now mean anyone under 30) are constantly connected.  They’re online all the time.  They tell their friends what they’re feeling and doing, not day by day, but second by second.

Here’s a quote from a great post on the new Generation Gap from Jeremiah Omywang.

Last weekend, my kid sister has graduated from college. 10 years my junior, she starts her first full time job in San Francisco. Already armed with a network connected to her on Facebook, Instant Messaging tools (and probably MySpace too), she enters the workforce connected to her new employers: customers, partners, and even competitors.

What they are on their profiles echos to their networks, and if they indicate they are employed (many do) then they are now representatives of the brand.

Companies have three choices when it comes to understanding this opportunity: 1) Do nothing. Most companies are unaware of these changes, or even if they are, they are unsure of the possibilities. 2) Shut it down. Some companies have locked Facebook, YouTube and other ‘time-wasters’ away from employees, but now with today’s pervasive mobile devices (iPHone, Blackberry, Nokia, Sidekick), there is no blocking it. 3) Make use of the opportunity. Employees, whether they realize it or not are the front line of the company, they can be support, they can be sales, or they can just be brand ambassadors.[quote]

Jeff Pulver is aware of this Generation Gap too.

My kids have been on the Internet since they were 3 years old. They have in fact grown up on the Internet. Now at 14, the Internet is a part of my sons daily routine and there are days when they spend more time on the Internet than I do. Each of them have discovered their passions and spend their time on the Internet exploring the things which interest them. The Internet is a part of their home.

Back when I was in school, I remember my summer vacation as the time once I was finished with school in June, I did not think about most of the kids in school until I returned in September. And I for one didn’t mind being free from my daily routine. I didn’t miss most of the people in school and enjoyed the opportunity to discover myself and discover my passions during the summer….

Fast forward to the Summer of 2008 and for my kids who just finished the 8th grade, everything seems different now. And I believe the parents of kids who are 14 years old who are not active in the social media space will have little appreciation for how connected their own kids are these days. The generation gap between these kids and their parents has the potential of being the biggest in many decades.

The train is steaming down the tracks and if you don’t quickly by a ticket, this train won’t just pass you by, it will roll right over you.

Look at the bottom rungs of your demographic ladder, that’s your future.  You can’t grow your business the way it’s been growing for decades, your farming methods need to change.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

I just ran an idea past our promotions director where we should encourage our listeners to post to our Facebook page, or a website wall all the places they hear 95Crave played.

You know, give some love to the post offices, drug stores, sandwich shops and offices who listen to us all day long.

He liked the idea, but responded with something very old media – “How do we monetize it for the participants?” In other words, what sort of bait do we have to give people to participate?

That’s the sort of old media thinking that is getting the industry into trouble.  On the radio we constantly give away prizes for participation, it’s the way the model has worked since the beginning.  From movie passes for trivia answers to a few bucks for a ratings survey – we’re all about rewarding.

But that’s not how the new media world works.  It’s much more philanthropic.  People do things because they want to – not because they have to.

If you want your message to spread via new media, you just have to give your audience the tools to spread it – they’ll figure out how to do the rest.

So a wall, or a place that says “I heard 95Crave!” is all you need.

If you build it, they will post.

catch the buzz… pass it on.

Last night’s Third Tuesday event featured a presentation on how charities and causes can take advantage of social networking, widgets and new media opportunities.

The recurring theme was how these grass roots efforts spread virally.  People get concerned about a cause and spread the message through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Halfway through, Tod Maffin piped up “But how can it work for companies, or corporations?”

That was something bubbling in my brain the entire hour.  New media and social campaigns work because they’re inherently organic.  As Joe said last night, “You have to give your voice to the people and trust they’ll be true to your message.”

So how can a broadcasting company take advantage of social networking?  If it comes top down, the users smell the bullshit and move on.

You have to give your users the tools to spread your message, and you have to give them a message worth spreading and becoming passionate about.

The “Whoever gets the most friends on Facebook wins $5000” contests were interesting attempts at using the viral message to spread brand awareness, until Facebook shut the contests down because of spamming.

Those contests got the listeners to buy in and get behind the movement and spread the message.  The audience has shown us they will spread our message, if we give them one to spread.

So… what are you giving your audience to do for you today?  What great bit did you do on the radio?  What video did you create for YouTube?  What did you Twitter?

catch the buzz… pass it on.