Category Archives: Internet Radio

Internet Talk Radio:The Newest Social Medium

“Social media is not an ad. People don’t see your post, tweet or LinkedIn profile and buy. The purpose (and promise) of all social mediums is simply to start a conversation with someone you’d like to meet.”

I belong to a group called CRITICAL MASS FOR BUSINESS. It’s a facilitated CEO PEER GROUP that meets once a month for 4 hours. The group is limited to 12 members, all of whom own similarly sized businesses in non-competeing industries.

Our typical agenda starts with a recap of what happened to all of us over the prior month including reports on whatever we did (or didn’t do) to implement the suggestions, ideas and “action plans” from our last meeting. For many of us (me included) this “accountability to someone other than yourself” may be one of the most important features of this group. We’re all entrepreneurs, not used to reporting to anyone but ourselves. The problem with that approach (however) is that it’s far too easy to make excuses or put off painful decisions when there is no one looking over your shoulder, prodding you to improve and move forward. “I’ll do it tomorrow” too often means it never gets done.

Then comes the truly transformative part of the meeting: the “round table discussions”. Here is where the rubber meets the road and people really get to the heart of their issues. Using a strictly controlled “question and answer process” (guided by our professional facilitators) we probe, distill and digest whatever issues each member wishes to bring forward. It’s not always a pleasant experience to be on “the hot seat” but it’s always informative and often illuminating. This is the only true “no spin zone” I know. You’re in a confidential setting with 11 other struggling entrepreneurs, many of whom are wrestling with the same issues and obstacles you are. And it s the only place I know where you get really honest, no bs feed back. Who else is gonna tell you such truth? Your friends and family (who don’t want to hurt your feelings?) Your employees (who don’t want to lose their jobs?) Or some consultant (who really wants to please you and keep getting paid and whose narrow expertise may not allow them to see the whole picture?)

This is the magical “mastermind” part of the meeting: 12 individual minds coming together as one urging, adding to and otherwise improving upon each previous thought. Organized brainstorming, proving once again that the sum is greater than the individual parts. How can this help? Well, it’s hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it. But let me say that (in my own case) it gave birth to a whole new business.

I was a long time PR person whose core clients (billiards, hot tubs and other home improvement products) had seen a dramatic decline during the recent “Great Recession”. Hot tub sales alone fell by over 70%. So, one by one, my clients were either going out of business or cutting back dramatically on their overall marketing services (including me). I entered the group to find a way to revitalize my business. Instead, the group opened my eyes to a whole new business opportunity.

As I recanted my problems to the group and discussed how foolishly I’d put all my “eggs in one basket” (by narrowly focusing on just one niche), how “fat and happy” and complacent I’d become in the process and how I’d generally stopped learning, growing and aggressively marketing my services to others, it became clear that I needed a new fire or passion to prod me in a new direction and a distinctive service to offer. Then, after casually mentioning that PR companies were being asked (more and more) to take on the role and responsibilities of “social media strategist” for their clients (since ad agencies-used to making ads–and marketing people-used to collecting and analyzing data–neither knew how nor wanted to explore this new aspect of marketing), the group started prodding me to explore this subject and educate myself on this opportunity. That led to long discussions about “what is social media”, “how is it different than traditional advertising, PR and marketing” and what is its fundamental purpose?

That, in turn, led me to some remarkble insights such as “social media isn’t an ad on the Internet”. People don’t just read your blog or “tweets” and buy. Instead, its something we’ve never seen before. The purpose (and promise) of social media is that it allows you to start a conversation with anyone you want to meet, from which you can learn, explain, explore and otherwise engage them in a meaningful dialog in which (hopefully) both sides receive some benefit. That means you can’t just “ask for the order” anymore. You have to be willing to offer some ideas and information for free, upfront, before you start the sales process. Information that your audience (hopefully) will find so interesting and informative that they pass it onto others in their network and community (creating “brand advocates” or “viral marketing” for your goods or services in the process). Then you have to respond to their questions and comments and keep them coming back for more. In other words, you have to have something interesting to say and then keep saying it regularly and often.

That’s why most social media programs fail. Most companies aren’t prepared to become their own media production companies. They run of out meaningful things to say and they don’t regularly keep at it, primarly because it takes time and discipline and it may not show immediate ROI. And quite often, no one in the company is prepared to take on the additional role of “social media spokesman”, which is why it defaults to the traditional PR people (who are used to regularly speaking for their clients).

And that’s when it occurred to me. This is what I should be doing, particularly since I originally started off in radio broadcasting and communication right after college (as a traditional DJ on WMYK, “K94″, in Norfolk,Virginia). Then came the even bigger insight that “I think I know a simpler and more powerful way to do this!” For if the purpose of social media is simply to start a conversation with someone you want to meet, then what could be easier than simply calling them up, interviewing them over the phone and then streaming that conversation live to the world? You could even record, archive and store it on some server, making it available 24/7 as a download for others to listen to and enjoy later as a “podcast” on ITunes and elsewhere.

Wouldn’t that be much easier to produce than trying to research and write a new blog or mini-article each week? And (ultimately) wouldn’t it be much easier for your audience on the Internet to consume (given the fact that most people would rather watch or listen to something on the Internet than read it?) And wouldn’t these weekly live conversations be more interesting and stimulating than just talking to yourself ? (a problem that plagues most other social mediums like blogs, tweets and traditional podcasts) And wouldn’t a live, weekly broadcast, at a regular time and place, be more likely to engage your audience, particularly if they could call-in their questions (just like any traditional talk show) or log-on, in real time, and tweet their comments ? And wouldn’t your guests immediately tell all their friends, customers and clients to listen? And wouldn’t they put a link to that recorded interview up on their site after the fact (which would help drive traffic and links to your site, thereby raising your search engine rankings and giving you a free ad on their website forever?) The answer to all this was “yes”.

Thus was born a new “social medium” and the business to go with it: OC TALK RADIO, Orange County’s only community radio station giving local businesses a voice on the Internet. For more information, check us out at http://www.OCTalkRadio.net.

HTML5, the iPad, and the iPhone: What You Need to Know

Have questions about HTML5 video? You’re not alone. StreamingMedia.com recently hosted a webinar on the topic led by Jeff Whatcott, senior vice president of global marketing at Brightcove (the event was sponsored by Brightcove), and nearly 1,000 people attended. The entire event is archived here (registration is free), but if you want something you can skim, here are the highlights.

The webinar was titled HTML5 Readiness, and sought to fill in the gaps for professionals who had heard the buzz on HTML5 video, but still had a lot of questions. Whatcott explained what HTML5 video is, showed how some companies are using it, and gave recommendations for creating an HTML5 strategy.

HTML5, Whatcott explained, is the successor to the current HTML standard, one that started as a renegade project by a group that included Apple, Mozilla, Google, Opera, and others. The central idea was to allow video and audio to play on websites without plug-ins.

We’re currently at the beginning of the HTML5 cycle, and only 38 percent of browsers support it. That means no content creator can afford to serve only HTML5 video, but needs to create a mixed format delivery system where users get the video in Flash or Silverlight if their browser isn’t HTML5-compatible.

While HTML5′s video tag is enjoying all the attention, the standard also includes audio and canvas tags, for delivering audio and dynamic images without plug-ins.

One of the standard’s shortcomings is that it doesn’t specify one format to use with it. That means there are a variety of choices, two of which enjoy major support. Providers can serve H.264 video created with the MPEG4 codec, WebM video made with the VP8 codec, or Ogg Theora video. H.264 and WebM offer better video quality, Whatcott said, and WebM is open source.

The area has gotten complicated, since Apple backs the H.264 format and Google backs WebM in its Chrome browser (which soon won’t support H.264 video). Whatcott sees the formats being used as weapons in a format battle, and doesn’t want customers to become casualties.

That fragmentation means that content providers can’t choose just one format when delivering HTML5 video, but need to stream two formats. The real beneficiary of this Adobe’s Flash video format, Whatcott says. If HTML5 seems too complicated, people will throw up their hands and just go with a system that works.

While that’s true of serving desktop viewers, HTML5 is most relevant now for reaching mobile devices. Providers who want to reach the influential iOS demographic need to stream H.264 video. Android devices support H.264 video, but not in all builds.

For those looking for more help with HTML5 video, Whatcott recommended this collection of links, which he put together and continues to maintain.

When it came time for questions, webinar attendees showed that they were concerned about the limits of HTML5 video. They asked about adaptive bitrate streaming (HTML5 video doesn’t offer it; the most it can do is one bandwidth check just before playback), analytics (tools aren’t as rich as with Flash video), and live streaming (it’s not supported in HTML5 video). They also asked about DRM and closed captioning, neither of which are available in HTML5 video.

For a more in-depth look at HTML5 video, check out the entire hour-long webinar for yourself. It’s a great introduction if you’re starting to think about an HTML5 delivery strategy.

Courtesy of SteamingMedia.com

5 Ways to Start A Social Media Frenzy

tin cans and stringThe power of online word of mouth
Word of mouth is clearly one of the fastest-growing sectors in marketing. PQ Media’s recent study has it growing 14.2 percent in 2008 to $1.54 billion and expects it to reach $3 billion by 2013. Powering that growth are social technologies that have made it increasingly easier for individuals to grow their spheres of influence and quickly spread content to their expanded social networks online.

Creating a campaign that ignites word of mouth online is far from an exact science. But it’s not a mysterious game of chance, either. There are tried-and-true best practices that have been demonstrated to increase the chances that consumers will want to share your brand and its messages with their friends and family. In this article, we’ll take a look at five core word-of-mouth triggers and the brands that have leveraged them for successful campaigns.

Trigger 1: Target online Oprahs

With the advent and rise of social platforms, influence has been democratized more than ever. As a result, brands need to expand the breadth and range of individuals on their radar. Brands that successfully identify members of key communities and empower them to use their influence and credibility gain relevance through personalized messaging that resonates with these influencers’ audiences.

While having a popular blog or a lot of Twitter followers can certainly help amplify a brand’s message, it’s not necessary. Finding authentic voices within relevant communities is critical. A good example of a brand putting this into action is Ford’s Fiesta Movement.

For the launch of the Fiesta, Ford knew it needed to change its reputation with the 20-something demographic. Rather than try to hitch itself to emerging trends that it felt would speak to this consumer, Ford took it straight to them. Ford launched a national contest to identify 100 drivers to take a six-month test drive of its new car.

The 100 selected were given keys to the cars and asked to participate in monthly missions as well as share their thoughts through their blogs and social networks. Everything was aggregated at FiestaMovement.com, providing a real look into to the lives and experiences of a diverse set of consumers tied into the communities Ford was looking to impact.

Trigger 2: Strike a chord

While more and more brands realize a new set of influencers exists for their brands, the way they communicate with them can often lack substance. Brands should seek to create programming rather than messaging in an attempt to generate word of mouth. Thinking more like a TV producer and less like an advertising exec will result in creating compelling content that has value and is more likely to generate interest and spread.

An example of a brand creating a meaningful platform is Pepperidge Farm Goldfish brand’s Fishful Thinking campaign. Pepperidge Farm identified a key need for young moms: Children were becoming less optimistic than previous generations. As a result, the Goldfish brand launched Fishful Thinking, an initiative led by child psychologist Dr. Reivich to help moms instill optimism in their children.

The initiative struck a chord with moms and became the centerpiece of all marketing activities. To spread the movement, Pepperidge Farm launched an ambassador network, “The School of Fishful Thinking,” through which 1,000 moms were invited to learn from the brand and Dr. Reivich so they could take their learnings back to their communities. Moms spoke at PTA meetings, spread weekly parenting activities to their online networks, and drove other moms to FishfulThinking.com so they could learn more about instilling optimism in their children.

Trigger 3: Give it up

It’s no secret that people love free stuff and promotions. While this has long been a motivator used by brands to get consumers engaged and get products in consumers’ hands, social media has made this tactic highly viral, with reach well beyond just those who get the goods. Website-building companies like Squarespace and Moonfruit both instantly became top Twitter trending topics for their giveaways of Apple products by asking users to tweet their hashtags for a chance to win. Many such promotions have quickly spread on Twitter.

On Facebook, brands like Starbucks ice cream and Papa John’s have quickly gained viral participation and Facebook fans by giving away their products. Starbucks, offering up 800 pints per hour, allowed people to send a pint of their new ice cream flavors to friends. Papa John’s added 125,000 fans in one day with a free pizza offer. Burger King offered up a highly viral creative twist on giveaways when it offered a free Whopper to anyone who defriended 10 of their Facebook friends with the Whopper Sacrifice app. Despite not adhering to Facebook’s Terms and Conditions, the app quickly spread and more than 230,000 Facebook friendships were terminated as a result.

Trigger 4: Cast your consumers

“The Daily Record,” the local paper of Dunn, N.C., boasts the highest penetration of any newspaper in the U.S. at an astounding 112 percent. Its secret? Post as many local names and pictures as they can. The newspaper realized early on that when people are featured in the paper, they will not only purchase their copy but others to share with friends and family. People simply like to see themselves in print. The same rule applies online.

In reviewing what spreads online, another key theme arose. Those campaigns that allowed consumers to feature themselves or friends in a cool or humorous way often saw success when done well. Moveon.org’s Obama video executed on this brilliantly by allowing people to insert a friend’s name into a video newscast claiming Obama lost by one vote and they were to blame. The person’s name was shown repeatedly on the screen in what looked like a real newscast, causing viewers to forward the video to other friends with their name included, resulting in more than 10 million views of the video.

For the Activision game “Prototype”, the brand took the idea even further. To launch the game, it asked users to log in via Facebook Connect on its website to view the trailer for the game. Once they did, the user viewed a trailer filled with personal information, pictures, and content embedded in highly contextual ways. This unique twist put the consumer front and center, causing users to take notice and share the experience with friends.

Trigger 5: Summon your Spielberg

Content is king. This cliché is even more applicable when applied to sparking word of mouth online. Unlike TV, where there are limited built-in audiences waiting to tune in, online views are earned by creating content that users feel compelled to spread. With competition for eyeballs more fierce than ever, marketers must identify the content that will really resonate with their consumers and execute in an innovative, shocking, or laugh-out-loud way.

After viewing a T-Mobile commercial of users dancing in the Liverpool Tube Station, a Facebook member organized a Facebook flash mob to create a choreographed dance in the middle of the Liverpool station. Clueless bystanders were left wondering what was going on as everyone around them broke out in dance. The video has resulted in more than 13 million views on YouTube.

To spread the word about Marshall’s store-within-a-store, called The Cube, Marshall’s joined up with Liam Sullivan’s YouTube sensation and cross-dresser character, Kelly, to create a prequel video to her popular videos like “Shoes” and “Let Me Borrow That Top.” Hilarity ensued, delighting not only core Kelly fans but all those who shared the video with friends (resulting in nearly 1 million views to date).

While there have been some outliers, the majority of online word of mouth successes can be traced back to at least one of these triggers. Incorporating a trigger alone will by no means guarantee success; they do, however, provide a blueprint by which brands can access the strategies that will best resonate with their consumers.

A thorough list, if ever I saw one!  Courtesy of IMediaConnection.com

To which I’ll add a sixth suggestion:

Trigger 6: Host Your Own Internet Radio Show!

As I said in an earlier entry, hosting your own Interet Radio show is the single most powerful Social Media Tool I’ve ever seen. It incorporates all the elements of a successful social media tool (and more!)

It gives you rich, interesting content to give away (to capture your prospect’s interest and all-important email address). It also creates something interesting (on a weekly basis!) to tweet about and talk about on all your other social media sites (ie-who was on your show, what they said, who’s your next guest, etc.)  And the addition of any “rich media” to your site will win you points with Google and the other search engines and raise your rankings (and overall level of interest).

But the most important reason to host your own Internet Radio Show is the one no one fully appreciates.  It creates an “aura of expertise” around you and your company (who else hosts a radio show in your field?)  And it’s the most powerful networking and prospecting tool imaginable.  Want to speak to ANYONE in your industry?  Or want to set an appointment with that propect you can’t otherwise get in the door to meet?  Simple!  Just call them up and say you want to interview them for YOUR RADIO SHOW!  The doors fly open and you’re given all the time you need (along with all the information you’ll ever want to know about that company!)  Guaranteed.

So if you only have the time or energy to only use one Social Media tool, try Internet Radio.  It’s got it all (at a cost ANYONE can afford!)  Visit www.OCTalkRadio.net to learn more.  And thanks for reading MY social media conversations and content!

TIME Recognizes “The Fast Growing World of Internet Radio”

In their special investigation into “post industrial Detroit”, TIME magazine wrote about “a fairly new group of young Detroit women who are looking to leave the freshest broadcast imprint” in “the fast-growing world of Internet radio” (their words, not mine!)

The show is called ALL GIRL TALK RADIO and features lively discussions with four “Detroit-raised businesswomen, wives and moms” who have (according to TIME) “steadily gathered steam in recent months as their hot topics and smart, sassy on-air personalities have reeled in thousands of listeners a week, some as nearby as W. 7 Mile Road and some as far away as the United Kingdom”.

I mention it here for two reasons:

1. I’m an ex-Detroiter who always likes to hear ANY good news from back home and

2. As an even prouder INTERNET RADIO PIONEER who is thrilled to hear words like “the fast-growing world of Internet radio” and “the growing world of online radio” included in ANY mainstream magazine article. Could they be catching on to the most powerful social medium ever imagined?

You can read more at TIME’s year long investigaton project called (what else?) THE DETROIT BLOG.

Vote For Internet Radio!

Support our new community Internet Radio Station (www.OCTalkRadio.net) in the Cisco Small Business Contest by voting HERE.  We promise “Stimulating Conversations” for all!

Support Our Internet Radio Station!

Please support our new Internet Radio Station (www.OCTalkRadio.net) in the Cisco Small Business Contest by voting HERE.  We promise “Stimulating Conversations” for all!

Tipping Point for Traditional Radio

Traditional Radio will be left out of Steve Jobs’ new mobile tablet device that he is expected to announce next Wednesday.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same name defined the tipping points to be “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable”.

My friends, we are about to witness history next week when Apple provides the electronics, the infrastructure and the consumer confidence (no small thing) to save traditional media.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal alluded to Apple’s goals. No one will know until Apple CEO Steve Jobs comes down from high to announce the next big thing, but speculation is running rampant.

The tablet could allow for cable television subscriptions customized by the user and billed to their Apple account. Music may be streamed and safely tucked away on a “cloud” for instant access anywhere on any device — again, for a monthly fee.

Monthly fees have failed miserably in the music sector but Apple could pull it off with a cool new device that allows consumers to read books, save the newspaper industry from itself, access school textbooks, read PDFs, go online, use apps from Apple’s app store, play video and movies at a whim, listen to Internet radio and Pandora and on and on.

But what appears to be left out is radio — terrestrial radio.

You see, the tipping point has already been reached in radio and the momentum cannot be stopped. Consolidators and their followers have killed off local programming and local personalities. They’ve done this with a smile on their faces (after all, remember a year ago when Clear Channel laid off almost 2,000 people and said that was going to fix the industry?).

Maybe it would be better to rename the tipping point the Dipping Point in the case of the radio industry. Turns out less was never more. Any idiot knows less is not more.

Even an alien from Mars would know that to dilute local radio for the economies of repeater radio, Imus in the Morning, syndication, voice tracking and cheap programming is compromising the industry’s future.

And now, next week, radio will see just what bean counter planning earned it — a footnote at best on the most fabulous new consumer device and entertainment platform ever devised.

Radio is not necessary to people other than radio executives.

Yes, I know — 236 million people listen to radio every week according to Radar and big CHR stations still pull in millions of listeners (if you count People Meter metrics as listeners).

I would respond, if radio is strong at 236 million people, why was the industry declining even before the recession? I know from my work teaching the next generation — radio has by its own hand removed itself from the soundtrack of its listeners’ lives.

Radio studies layoffs and new ways to get health care companies to buy spots while consumers get their news and entertainment online and from mobile devices. And advertisers are now telling radio stations what they think of them by driving the price for commercials down to the lowest levels ever.

Steve Jobs studies sociology and then invents the technology.

Radio studies “layoffology” and then invents a breed of radio that is easily left off the next must have media device.

We’ve got it all ass backwards.

The Wall Street Journal article’s only mention of radio is Internet radio.

Here it is:

“People familiar with Apple’s plans say a central part of the new strategy is to populate as many Web sites as possible with ‘buy’ buttons, integrating iTunes transactions into activities like listening to Internet radio and surfing review Web sites. “

This is what we talk about in this space all the time and what I will cover at my Media Solutions Lab next week.

Innovation!

Yet, the radio industry is content to sit still and miss the next wave after having denied its way through the Internet revolution for the past decade. Why do you think every major broadcast company budgets less than 3% at best for Internet/mobile and digital operations? Isn’t that wrong? The Internet will be the thing historians look back on 50 years from today — not towers and transmitters.

Not good for companies whose money is tied up in FCC licenses and old transmitters.

One of my readers points out,

“When Google retreated from trying to sell radio advertising, radio companies saw that as a victory. I saw it as a defeat. When I ran radio stations, I embraced dMarc and then thought it was great when Google bought it. Pfft. Gone”.

The Dipping Point for radio is next week — when all the foolish, selfish, destructive things consolidators and their equity holders have done to the industry comes home to roost.

But the Tipping Point for new media also arrives on the same day. This exciting future — creating content, marketing brands, selling things — becomes a growth industry.

This growth industry isn’t going to come to us — we have to go get it. Learn about it. Retrain ourselves. Certainly, we must become adept at understanding generational media. (I am doing an impactful and entertaining module on generational media at my Lab next week. It will give attendees a sense of how to see the similarities and differences in generational media and what to do with them).

Radio people have all the raw talent to learn skills for the era of new media content that will be institutionalized next Wednesday when Apple speaks. The ones that sit back and refuse to think differently (as Apple would say) will most certainly be left behind.

The long-awaited digital future is days away. Let’s watch it develop together and find ways to become a part of it.

Courtesy of Jerry Del Colliano and his outstanding “insider blog” Inside Music Media.