You show up at work one morning to find an urgent message from the boss sitting in your inbox–“What are we doing with Facebook?” Suddenly, there is a mad dash to get online. Every moment you’re not on Facebook is an opportunity for your competitor to leverage this new medium and steal your market share. This simple question incites a fire drill that causes too many stations to build a social media marketing strategy that is a house of cards. They never ask themselves, “Just why are we using social media?” For most companies, the simple answer is “to get more viewers.” This is an obvious and blatantly transparent goal, and a very dangerous daily strategy that often leads to an audience backlash.
History Repeats Itself
Back a few years ago, blogging was all the rage. Managers read the trades, saw that everyone who was anyone was publishing a blog, and demanded that anchors, news directors, and everyone with a computer publish a daily blog. Problem was, the companies did not have a comprehensive marketing or operations strategy for blogging. They simply knew that blogging was the latest and hottest trend. They didn’t want to be left behind. They rushed headlong into this new medium with little thought given to daily operations, tactics, or goals.
Station blogs quickly digressed to sporadic posts that featured such scintillating topics as lunch plans, personal mood, and complaining. The harsh reality of blog marketing set in – they are a lot of work and require time, commitment, and back-end systems. Check most station websites and you’ll find that most blogs have disappeared. Stations spent countless dollars advertising their blogs and encouraged viewers to join the conversation. The audience was promised scintillating and relevant discussion, but they logged on to find only sporadic and frivolous content. Many stations were afraid of litigation and disabled commenting altogether. The tacit message – we don’t trust you. We don’t value your opinions. Plain and simple, the station had lied to them. The station was not committed to meaningful viewer conversations. It simply wanted the ad revenue. Blogging was merely the flavor of the day and became just another broken promise.
Now, social media is all the rage and stations are charging into this new medium with the same reckless abandon. Corporate has sent the message from on high, “You need to be in social marketing.” Most stations aren’t quite sure how this new medium works, and even fewer have any sort of written plan that lays out the goals and tactics of their social marketing campaign.
Who is in charge?
Exactly who is managing your social media efforts? Social media participants are usually a ragtag band of random contributors scattered throughout the station staff. Marketing contributes a few posts, a few news staffers weigh in with their thoughts, and management may occasionally chime in.
Is Twitter marketing, or is it content? Is Facebook part of the web department or is it news? There is a distinct leadership void in most station social media efforts. These rudderless ships typically drift aimlessly in a sea of random commenting and conflicting agendas. The tone and style of social marketing tends to reflect the personal agenda of those who comment the most, regardless of whether that agenda matches the station’s goals.
Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at email@example.com.