You had to plan out sets, especially if you had themes going (slow, hard-rock, etc.); make the transitions between songs sound good and make sense; ensure that commercials would play when they were supposed to; and play the jingle that announced your station’s call letters and city of license at the top of the hour.
You also had to make sure that “Stairway to Heaven” was lying around somewhere, in case you needed to use the facilities … but that’s another story.
Most important, though: You had to play what your audience wanted to hear. The Eagles notwithstanding, you can’t play a country tune on a rock station. Listeners would flee your smooth jazz station if you played gangsta rap. And so on …
Whenever I’m using one of the many tools I have to “program” the social media channels for which I am responsible, I’m reminded of my old college DJ days, because the two duties aren’t all that different. Here’s how my experiences at being a deejay can help you with your social-media strategy and content.
When programming for a radio station, the management knows what audience she or he wants. They use metrics to find their “target demographics” or “target market,” which can include gender, age, income and so on. These smart people also know what the people in their target demo like to listen to, what they like to buy, what they’ll respond to in contests and giveaways, and the like. At that point, they give their audiences what they want.
Social media is a lot alike in this regard. Businesses generally know what audience they want to attract. They know what interests their audiences. They also know that their products are of interest to that audience. What they may not know, though, is how to engage their audience. That’s where content comes in. Generally speaking, here’s what they need to do:
- Find stories of interest, and link to them. This is probably the easiest strategy to implement, as long as you know where to look. Most industries are served by email newsletter publishers that link to all kinds of content about their particular area. Find those, mine them, and put them in your social-media channels. You’ll appear to be an expert in your field when you do this, which will start conversations between you and your social-media followers.
Despite all of the one-way “broadcast” communication in the above, though, I always had to remember to answer the phones and take song requests. The same type of thing goes for social media, but it actually cuts deeper. With social media, you’re not only taking requests, you’re responding to customer-service issues and really talking with people. That’s why you want to:
- Ask questions. Start conversations with your audience by asking them questions. You probably know the types of questions your audience wants to answer already; heck, you’re probably asking them yourself (or your sales staff is) when you’re talking with prospects and current clients.
One thing I really like about the above is that you can actually turn around and use the information you get from asking questions (and getting answers) in your future sales or marketing efforts. Consider it a really inexpensive way of doing market research.
And now, yet another area where the old business rule of “80/20″ applies:
- Promote yourself … gently. You know how you feel when you’re listening to a radio station that plays a lot of commercials and not much music? Or you’re a sports or talk-radio fan, and you hear more from people in commercials than you do from your favorite hosts? Now imagine a social-media audience that’s getting a lot of promotions and not much “meat” from your social media. Make sure that most of your social-media content is geared towards either informing/educating your audience, or engaging them in a conversation.
Here’s where the 80/20 rule applies: Educate/engage 80% of the time, and promote 20% of the time. I’d even suggest taking it up to 90/10, but that’s a later step in your strategy, as you continue to gain followers and customers from social media.
(And keep in mind these comparisons also apply to email newsletter- and blog content-creation strategies.)
If there’s nothing else you take away from this post, remember this: Social media is all about conversations, not broadcasting.