I want to take you back in time a good 30 years or so. Back to the 80’s Oh the great and glorious 80’s. This was the age of great innovation and some of the best music around. I grew up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle. and we were in the range of two of the Best Radio station in the area. FM90 the college powerhouse played songs that were strange and up and coming music. Then there was the top 40 music choice. For that, you wanted to turn your dial to the 100,000-watt powerhouse Z93. In fact, it was a given that if they liked rock and roll the person listened to Z93.
On Z93, yeah you would listen to Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 on Sundays and through the week you could jam to the likes of White Snake, Montly Crue or Duran Duran when they released a hit As a person in their teen years, you would get to experience the excitement and ear-splitting volume of whoever the one hit wonder was at that time. The 80’s man they were great and much of the nostalgia of that time is centered around z93.
But the biggest and the best part of Z93 was the DJ’s. No, not like DJ E-Z Rock or that but the guys that would talk in between the sets. These guys were local celebrities. If they were going to have the Z van over at Wonderland park handing out swag. You can guarantee that there was going to be a crowd. You were hoping you were going to get to talk on the air. When you did succeed at talking on the air you heard all about it at school that Monday.
At nights though was the best. If you were a young man who was thinking of his girl, and you wanted to profess your undying love. You would make a request to hear ya’lls “song”. When you turned on the radio you would hear heartfelt dedication to heartfelt dedication. Each one
You could also make requests you haven’t heard your favorite song in a while you could also call up the station and leave a request. Soon after you would hear your voice over the radio and BOOM your tune! It was like magic at that time. there was this whole community around a common interest. That interest was nurtured by these DJ’s that would take the time to listen to a bunch of kids screaming for a song.
The Community Killer
Then along comes the turn of the century and radio itself started to struggle. It was around this time a new change to radio started to creep in. It was slow at first it covered only the midday in between rush hours but then it crept into the night and then took over the evening like a slow and deliberate plague.
People started wondering away from radio listening to their music on iPods and then their phones. Many people blamed the MP3 but that was the killer of the CD and Tower Records. If you try to listen to the terrestrial radio these days it is not at the start the commercials. You radio stations are always placing too many commercials.but, the problems are the lack of any personality.
In Amarillo, Z93 is still around but it has changed formats. Why again the powers that be think that is because tastes have changed I can tell you that the top 40 is still popular. People still want to hear their current favorite tune. So what changed?
The big change is automation. For the sake of the bottom line. The radio broadcast companies have taken the DJ and replaced them with preset playlists. Look at Amarillo stations like Mix 94.1 and JackFM are both gone completely automated. Mix has syndicated shows like Delilah radio and Jack is 100% automation. You will not hear your voice unless you are saying Jack and that is very rare.
Social Media and Automation
What does radio DJ’s and social media have in common? The key is a community. The community is what ties people together. They have this one common interest and they build friendships over the topic at hand. At z93 it is communication and your ability to share with the area that you have a girlfriend. While JackFM that sense of community is not there.
With the lack of community, the radio stations are now having to work harder to keep open so they are entering a death spiral of more and more automation and with that, they are increasing the number of commercial spots for each break. With that people are leaving more to the likes of Spotify and Apple Radio.
In Social Media, the very same problem can exist. You want to take a little time as possible to set your social media message or you are wanting to repost some old work. This can be good as long as you manage it. If you just let the automation run free then you run into little embarrassments like an old 4th of July post being re-posted in January.
Automation causes you to look very impersonal. If your customer has a problem they will more than likely not get a hold of you because of the lack of a personal presence. It also causes you to stop spending time on your site and so If a customer does come to you with a problem you will only exacerbate the problem by not being there for them. If they have a problem with your company, it will look like you just don’t care about the customer. That is worse than any bad publicity around.
You also want to be wary of Social Media companies that Specialize n automation. Cause yeah they can help build up your followers. These companies can even possibly come up with a smashing social media strategy. But is there a human element that understands your customers?
Look at Townsquare Interactive. This is the company that runs JackFM and Mix94.1 in Amarillo, TX. These radio stations do good. They do exactly what they are supposed to do. The stations play music and disseminate advertising to the surrounding area. Yet, there is no community surrounding these radio stations. Yeah, they make JackFM sound like it has a personality that is a bit aloof but name a DJ here. Any DJ. I find that you would be hard pressed to do so.
They have a brand and Townsquare Interactive knows how to brand. They pretty much rock it at that point. Yet they are based in North Carolina, and I have heard JackFM in more than one town in more than one state. So how would they really know or get the spirit of Amarillo, Texas? My opinion they can’t, and that is what is missing from these autonomous music playing robots. There is no personality. no personality no community.
Yes, there is branding but you can actually have branded with no personality. When you do that, you have you have the number one complaint about today’s companies. Companies that have forgotten their customers.You don’t get behind an apple with a bite taken out. You are with the community of crazed tech heads who camp out in front of an Apple store. That is the community.
Automation is useful
Don’t get me wrong. Automation has its place. it is good for doing the reports. From time to time, you want to make sure you freshen up the Social Jukebox Loop. If you become predictable that is when the issues begin and people see you as automated.
Yet, automation can be good if you take the time and load up your Bufferapp for the day. That way there is a steady stream of posts showing up on your profiles. Just make sure you are able to be reached by your fans and customers. Don’t turn off your notifications. Unless you are tired of your customers and you want them to go to another store.
It is easy to see when people have overused automation. Look at Townsquare communication or any other social media site. The mentality of set it and forget it only works with rotisseries. Don’t forget about your audience. They are the good folks who pay your bills.
So have you come across a social media account that has gone completely autonomous? What were the clues? Comment below.
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