For years social media has been very much the playground for Millennials and Generations X and Z. But as Baby Boomers have adapted to the various social platforms, radio stations that target the 25-54 money demo (and older) have had to adapt as well.
The social media explosion can be traced back at least ten years and within that last decade smart programmers and digital pros have been on a learning curve with their listeners on the best ways to engage and interact online.
“The challenges have been figuring out how the audience is using social media,” Seth Resler, Digital Dot connector at Jacobs Media, told Inside Radio. “That’s a challenge not just for radio but probably for every industry that is figuring out how people are using social media.”
The Jacobs Techsurveys have been a tool used by many broadcasters to see what their audience is doing online, and where they are doing it. “The [former] Greater Media stations were part of the Techsurveys from the beginning,” Beasley Media VP of Programming Buzz Knight said. “We have tracked it for the entire run of that project so that enables us to see where the demographic appeal is for various digital channels.”
The social platform the upper demos are active on is, by far, Facebook. In the latest Techsurvey, Jacobs reports that 94% of Baby Boomers who took part in the survey have Facebook profiles. “Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” Resler said. “That’s what everybody is using. Everything else is second. That difference is even more pronounced as you look at older demos. As you go older it’s more about Facebook than anything else and you can worry less about some of these other social channels; 73% of Baby Boomers say they use Facebook on a daily basis—No. 2 is Twitter with 12%.”
“When Facebook says they have two billion active users, what that tells me is that as a distribution platform Facebook should be important to me in the news industry,” added Julia Ziegler, news director for WTOP.com, the website for Hubbard Broadcasting news WTOP Washington, DC (103.%).“It’s more about the fact that social media has become such a large part of people’s lives that the news industry has had to figure out how to incorporate and use social media to our advantage because that’s where people are.”
For music stations the task has been, “getting the talent to think in terms of shareable content to match the tone of the audience, and making certain that they have the proper voice for that audience is critical,” Knight explained. “The reality is for some stations, and for this format, it definitely has been harder to get the talent on board. We have all gotten better but that doesn’t mean there’s not areas of improvement and challenges and opportunities, but the talent finding their voice continues to be critical, especially when you have notable name market personalities that have an audience and need to engage with that audience.”
“We have these personalities that we have an attachment to because we listen every day so we look for their take and their spin on things,” Resler added. This has been especially prevalent with the many recent passings of musicians. While the audience can get the news anywhere, the local angle is a great one for music stations to use when connecting with the audience via social. “That’s where radio stations have a role with a lot of that stuff,” Resler continued. “Station personalities and stations themselves have a voice and a take on things and they should always offer that. That includes not only how they talk about things on the air, but the way they talk about it on social media.”
When your bread-and-butter is reporting the news using social channels, to help accomplish this is a natural extension to a station’s on-air signal. “In the past people made appointments with their TV for the evening news,” Ziegler explained. “Now news is 24/7-365 and on-demand. People can use any platform they want and oftentimes that’s a social media channel. So news organizations have had to figure out to also use social media channels to get in front of all of these eyeballs.” And as Facebook is where the majority of these Baby Boomer eyeballs happen to be, that’s where WTOP goes most often. “Facebook does the most for us,” Ziegler said. “When we post something on Facebook we know it is going to out-perform all the other social media networks that we are a part of.”