Three Ways Social Media Affects What You See, Hear and Read in the Media
You don’t have to do a lot of research to see that the mainstream media uses social media every day. Every major news anchor has a Twitter account and many of them have Facebook fan pages with thousands of followers who receive regular updates on that anchor’s activities and interests.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper spends several minutes every night asking viewers to connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. Ed Schulz of MSNBC’s The Ed Show runs interactive polls on a nightly basis connecting those using social media back to his evening show. Every major host or anchor has a social media presence in which they not only promote their appearances, but also seek feedback from their audiences.
In radio, one of the largest chains of terrestrial radio stations mandates that their hosts push social media on a regular basis. In fact, on-air personalities are not only judged by their ratings on the air, but they are equally judged by the number of followers and Web hits to their online blogs. Not only that, they put their money where their microphones are by handing out cash bonuses for hosts that overachieve in the social media arena.
The stations understand that the easiest way to get listeners to their Web sites is through their hosts’ social media connections. They also understand the culture of social media that you can’t be too commercial or sound like you’re trying to sell them too hard on going to the Web site, so they post daily news updates, more information about topics they discuss on the shows, celebrity news and even funny viral videos – any kind of content that adds value to the consumer’s online experience. Many stations require their hosts to post something on their blogs at least three times a day, so it’s not something they do of their own discretion – it’s a job requirement!
The host just needs to do shows that are fun and informative, keep listeners tuned in so that the listeners will want to connect with them on Twitter or Facebook, which leaves the train of breadcrumbs back to the station’s Web site.
Stations can then use this online funnel as a way to directly affect their bottom lines, because consumers don’t have to buy a thing once they get there. All they have to do is visit early and often and the advertising dollars can justifiably be multiplied.
Finally, newspapers and magazines are beginning to understand the same paradigm, because they are producing online-only content to drive more Web site visitors. It’s not enough anymore that they simply repurpose their print content for the online visitors. They are now investing in content that is available only online to continue to monetize their Web traffic through advertising. It’s a simple formula, like the radio station model. The more Web site visitors you get, the more you can charge advertisers to reach them.
But if it were about the ad dollars alone, it wouldn’t be worth it to devote so much effort into social media. The media gets far more than that. Let me try to put it into perspective.
The main reason the mass media does social media is exactly the same reason you should. They use social media to build a RELATIONSHIP with their audience. In any business-to-consumer interaction, there is no interaction that is more valuable than the establishment of a relationship with your potential customers.
That’s why I’m such a firm believer in investing the time and energy in social media marketing to develop RELATIONSHIPS (I can’t emphasize the word strongly enough) and build a strong following. Yes, it takes time and energy, but the payoff is that you are building relationships with people, who may one day turn into a client or refer clients. Through this exchange of communication, people learn about your expertise and you get their feedback so everyone benefits in some manner. This interchange takes the relationship to a higher level. The highest level, of course, is that handshake (virtual or face-to-face) that takes place when they become a customer or client.
So, if you want to drive your marketing to a much higher level, do like the big boys do in TV, radio and print – use social media to build relationships with your potential customers and then watch as that potential is realized.
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity. Outside of the office, she is also the founder of a non-profit organization called the Cherish the Children Foundation. In 1996 the White House recognized her charity which sets out to raise awareness of the plight of underprivileged and foster children.