Engaging Your Audience Online

OverallTV2 has always struggled with having a solid, consistent, online presence. This session seems good for anyone to attend, whether the program has a well-developed online presence or a fledgling start-up.

As always, refresh for updates.

1:05 p.m.: Session underway. Jennifer Brett, Multimedia Journalist/Social Media Expert – Atlanta Journal Constitution; and Bill Overall, Director of Education and New Media – Georgia Public Broadcasting. Follow @ajcbuzz on Twitter for updates from Jennifer.

1:06 p.m.: You should view social media expertise as vital as breathing. Demonstrating your social media prowess is going to be an essential part of your portfolio.

1:08 p.m.: Interesting social media stats. There is a study from Kaiser Family Foundation from 2008, if your kids are awake, they are online somehow. Kids ages 8 to 18 were spending upwards of 8 hours a day attached in someway to their devices. The point was parents watch out! But to us, from a business perspective, if your target demo is connected eight hours a day, you need to put your content right under their nose.

1:10 p.m.: You’ve got to go find your customers where they are, and deliver content the way they want to receive it. Social media is how you find that audience. 300 small market sites were analyzed. Research company found social media traffic referral constituted a humongous portion of their business. Facebook outpaced Twitter 5 to 1. It was a huge traffic driver. 40% of The Atlantic magazine’s web traffic comes from Facebook and social media.

1:13 p.m.: What about dealing with an older demo? The critical definition is that the engagement is happening off your own site. If you put something out on YouTube and people are commenting there, you’re meeting your viewers in a common space that neither of you own. That is social media. If you can get a viral video on YouTube, that is a huge driver to your site.

1:14 p.m.: Public broadcasting has an audience that is under 6 and over 6o. It skews to the extremes. They are not a commercially viable audience. When the program Downtown Abbey first aired it was a humongous hit in England. But just because it is a big hit in England doesn’t mean it will be a hit here. But it was. It was sight to see PBS people talking excitedly about Nielsen ratings.

1:16 p.m.: How could PBS keep the momentum and build the audience for the second season? They knew the audience wanted to watch, but how do you harness that? Also, how do you keep people from watching it online before it’s on-air? The answer was they tried to create a social vibe about it – show people that there was a benefit to watching it with everyone else. The created a “come meet us” event and hired a blogger to do “fan blogging.” Both were great ways to engage their audience.

1:18 p.m.: In a world where there was so much reality television, it was a great experience for people to be able to gather together and talk about something stable and scripted. The biggest single success was with their YouTube video. They took the first series and posted all of the funny moments with Maggie Smith – it crossed over 100K views in just a couple of days. They now have about 700K views. Don’t ever lose the idea that a silly little video can severely drive traffic.

1:19 p.m.: Bitly released research indicating a tweet posted between 1 and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday gets the most traffic. Facebook has far more activity at nights and on the weekends. Blogs do best on the weekends. Sports does well on Sunday nights. Facebook also has more activity after lunch. But don’t get bogged down in “Oh, I have to tweet now and post now.” It’s bad to get inundated with trying to strategically post. The best time to post is RIGHT NOW.

1:21 p.m.: Something that starts out as a sort-of-cool idea on Twitter can snowball into something bigger. You can always harness the power of social media to get your message across.

1:23 p.m.: People who got into radio got into it because a lot of them didn’t want to be scene. They like the wall of being a disembodied voice. At the same time, radio is one of the most personal mediums out there. It’s difficult to talk a radio host into sharing themselves with the public. It’s no longer acceptable to be hidden. You may have webcams. You may have to blog and post.

1:25 p.m.: Understand the difference between a professional media profile and a personal media profile. Overall has three profiles. A profile as a bar owner, a profile as a public broadcasting employee and a personal profile. Facebook is frustrating by changing the rules every day. But you cannot bury your head in the sand. It is essential to build profiles. It builds loyalty. If people know you, they will support you.

1:26 p.m.: Social media is also the BEST way to get feedback from consumers. It is the easiest way to find out if people like and article or enjoy personalities on television.

1:27 p.m.: Also, now is the time to start building professional profiles. People will check your history. Start now so you’re set up for later.

1:28 p.m.: People love to be heard and validated and acknowledged. If you have a Twitter account and your very active with your viewers, you could have a Tweet of the Day on-air. People like currency and excitement that is part of social media. That is your asset. Radio and television stations are always coming up with promotions. But if you don’t have access to big promos, come up with creative ways to get people to feel like they are part of your online family.

1:29 p.m.: Be judicious regarding social media in every aspect of your life. Hamden, VA, 2009 case. A sheriff was running for office. Six of his deputies or employees liked his opponent’s page. Just clicked like. And he fired them. He fired them for no other reason than he liked the opponent’s page. One of the deputies sued. And lost – the judge said liking is not protected free speech. Since then, the ACLU and Facebook have filed suits trying to argue that Facebook liking is protected free speech. Perhaps the deputy will eventually prevail, but it will take years. It’s not pleasant to go through something like this over something so stupid as a Facebook post. So, be aware that anything you put on any page, anytime, anywhere is forever. Someone, somewhere will be able to nab it. There is no delete key.

1:31 p.m.: How to Deal with Negative or Inappropriate Comments: You can have a filter. If there are curse words, you can filter it ahead of time. If something is patently offensive, you can take it off. But if somebody writes something is horrible or they hate an actor or hate a movie, that’s not bad. Air on the side of free expression. If someone criticizes you, that’s good. It drives traffic. If they criticize it means they’re watching or reading. Obviously, if someone is threatening physical harm or is grossly offensive, you can take it down. If it’s just an opinion or criticism it’s great.

1:34 p.m.: Gilbert Gottfried tweeted himself out of his Aflac job. Right now, there is an Ann Coulter issue with calling the president “retarded” in a tweet after the last debate. People are petitioning to get her off the air. In short, be careful.

1:35 p.m.: Obviously, people can track Twitter feeds and find old information. So, be very judicious. Make sure your social media accounts reflect only someone who would be a valued member of the team.

1:36 p.m.: Remember, you are always a representative of your media organization. You may have to hold back on personal comments or at least restrict your comments to a smaller set of people.

1:37 p.m.: Posting frequency: Let a tweet breathe a little bit. For sure, when you’re just blasting people it feels like a megaphone. Treat social media like a cocktail mixer. Get to know people and engage. Validate their experience and expression. Letting a tweet breathe a little bit and retweeting to validate your audience is great. Facebook posts maybe one or two an hour. For Twitter, maybe four of five an hour if something hot is going on. If it’s just a regular day, you don’t want to beat people over the head.

1:39 p.m.: What do you do when you don’t have a hit? Even if you’re in a small market, you still hold the megaphone in that market. Even if you only had 40K people watching, think about how many people that truly is. No matter how small you are, you still hold the mouthpiece in that community. You always have an audience no matter how small. And your audience has something in common with you. You created a common relationship.

1:41 p.m.: If you are too small to have an event, have a party. Remember to always feature people’s comments. Rather than filtering, promote what you think is good. Rather than censoring, laud good opinions and comments. If you start taking down comments, you run a liability issue. The quality content itself is enough to overshadow the idiots.

1:43 p.m.: Be sure to check people out a little bit so you’re not retweeting the head of the Klan. Always do a little research to find out about who your followers are. You wouldn’t want to be snookered into seeming to endorse someone who could later be a liability to you. Just like in real life, most people and nice and normal and some are nuts. Make sure you don’t inadvertently align yourself with bad people.

1:45 p.m.: Not to make anyone feel paranoid, view social media like a caveman would view fire. This is a really great thing but it could hurt me.

1:46 p.m.: Quick ideas: Have people tweet pictures of themselves at the game. Ask people what their favorite songs are: people love lists and odd numbers. Ask people to send you things and then feature them on the air. Ask people what their doing this weekend or have people send them your instagrams. Have your audience become your marketing team. Do a small giveaway. Whoever wins, put them on Facebook and tag them. They’ll show their friends and then they’ll drive traffic back your way. Have your audience provide suggested topics for podcasts or shows. Post user-generated content and acknowledge them.

1:48 p.m.: Pick your battles. Pick one thing and make it really good and go really deep. Pull in as much of the community as you can and do a really thorough job with one post. Not everyone will like everything you post. Make note of which things work and which don’t. Then tailor your content to your viewers interests. Let your audience be a partner. Don’t hand over the reigns, but allow them to be a partner.

1:50 p.m.: This kind of engagement with your audience is not new. Back in the day, there was a show called The Trading Post on the radio. It was like Craigslist for radio. It wasn’t anything special – but it pulled in a lot of people who wanted to interact. The idea behind involving people is not going to change fundamentally. The very fact that they’re trying to engage with you at all shows that they are fans.

Reflection:

This session provided some excellent, simple ideas for engaging your audience through social media. The idea of letting the people who interact with you drive the topics seems so obvious, and yet it’s something we always forget about. Check out the notes above for great advice!

Relevance to TV2 – A

Insight and Demystification – A

Innovative Ideas – A

Overall – A

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