Sunday, July 08, 2012

Talent and Listeners: A Paradoxically Strong yet Fragile Bond

You don’t have to look far to find documentation about the bond between listeners and talent.

For the past 6 years, A&O’s Roadmap Study has revealed the significant level of importance listeners place on air talent in their overall listening experience.

Last month a Katz-funded/University of Southern California’s Annembert School for Communications’ study discussed the parasocial relationship (‘illusion of intimacy’ where one party believes they know a lot about someone else) listeners have with talent.

Among the study’s observations (see results and methodology here) was social media’s power to give listeners a feeling of connectivity with the talent.

Over 70% of the respondents indicated they followed their favorite personality via social media including more than half (55%) who said they did so “to make them feel like they know the host better.” These encounters led listeners to perceive the talent as real, trustworthy, and ‘one of us.’

This is powerful of course, but not impervious to self-inflicted damage.

Case in point: A wonderfully creative talent whose tweets were typically character-reflective, fun, and often filled contained ‘behind the curtain’ content began delivering a non-stop pitch for a limited appeal sales promotion.

While tolerable initially, the push became increasingly disappointing and finally annoying as the days passed.

It was if my friend next door was suddenly and relentlessly trying to sell me insurance every time he could catch my eye.

In the process, my social media relationship with this talent changed from one of anticipation to one of avoidance. And now, although the subject matter has returned to what it once was, I'm left with some residue of suspicion.

Bonds that take years to build and appear to be/are in fact strong, are still fragile enough to unravel quickly when trust and expectations are violated.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

How Did Your Website Celebrate the 4th?

We talk a lot about engaging our audience so I loved this idea from Starbucks.

It made me wonder what other coffee vendors might be doing so I checked three of the larger chains. While there were plugs for summer products, I didn’t see anything as 4th of July specific (let alone engaging) as this.

Later, while booking airline tickets I checked four major US carriers to see if their websites were celebrating the 4th. None of them were but Southwest was with this that played nicely off their brand.

I checked on our industry by randomly (unscientifically) visiting 25 radio station sites.

About half had nothing. That was disappointing but no worse than the coffee or airline industries -- and better than the fast food (six chains, nothing for the 4th) and auto industries (among the Big 3 plus three imports, one displayed a 4th of July sale).

For stations that did have July 4th-specific content, locations for viewing fireworks was the most common with some also listing special events.

In searching for something a little different to share, here are three sites that caught my attention.

While some stations were showcasing special programming; I thought this from Philadelphia's WMMR was locally, graphically and date-clever.

And I liked this – nearly a whole page - from Washington's WTOP which looks like the station sounds.

I thought this content on New Jersey 101.5 was varied and visual with four of their five flippers this morning devoted to the day while reflecting the station's personality.

And then this afternoon, this was added:

If your station (or business) had a great website up for the 4th I hope you'll share it.

If you're newly inspired to create something engaging, that's even better!

Hope you had a great day celebrating America!