Editorial: Set Yourself Up to Measure Your Own Social Media Questions

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media

I often get asked very specific questions about social media, such as:

  • “How often should we post?”
  • “What topics should we post about?”
  • “Should we post videos directly to Facebook or use a YouTube link?”

Inevitably, I give the same answer: “Experiment and see.” I don’t say this as a cop-out, but because what works for other stations (or other companies) may not work for yours. Yes, there are suggested best practices out there, but you should never let those take the place of hard data.

As broadcasters, this is a relatively new idea for us. We often program by our “gut.” A record or a contest or a bit either sounds good on the air or it doesn’t; Nielsen doesn’t give us data that’s granular enough for us to pinpoint specific results, so we offer our best educated guess.

But online, we have much better analytics. We can run small experiments and see the results in real time. We don’t have to guess which is driving more traffic to our website, Facebook, or Twitter; we can actually see the answer.

A great example of how to gather this data comes from the folks at NPR. They had questions about the best time to publish Facebook posts. They had a theory — called the “Facebook Whale” — and they set out to test it. Bryan Wright and Lori Todd explain what they did and what they learned here.

How can your radio station perform similar experiments to answer your social media questions? Follow these steps:

1. Define and agree upon your metrics.

Start by asking, “What does success look like?” What is the goal of your social media efforts? To get lots of likes? To drive traffic to your station’s website? To add registrants to your email database? To increase ratings? To generate revenue? These things are all related to each other, but some are more important than the others. Make sure that everybody agrees ahead of time on what the appropriate unit of measurement is and how many constitute success.

For example, let’s say your station has its annual Spring Fling Concert coming up and you’re thinking of running Facebook ads to help sell the show. You need to fill 1,000 seats to break even and 2,000 seats to hit your revenue projections. If you sell more than 2,000 tickets, your boss will love you; if you sell less than 1,000, you’ll need to update your resumé.

At the end of your experiment, you don’t want different people to look at the same result and draw different conclusions. If you’re measuring website clicks but your General Manager only cares about ticket sales, you’re going to run into problems. By agreeing upon the proper metrics ahead of time, you can avoid this confusion. You and your GM agree that while you should monitor website clicks, success will ultimately be measured by the number of tickets sold.

2. Set yourself up to measure.

Now that you’ve decided what you’re going to measure, you need to make sure that you can measure it. Make sure that you have the appropriate tools in place, whether it’s Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Bit.ly reports, etc. Also, make sure that you understand how to use these tools. If you don’t have them or don’t understand them, you’ll need to address these issues before you run any experiments.

In the case of our Spring Fling Concert, we can set up different website landing pages, which are identical except for a hidden code passed to the ticketing service. This code allows you to pull a report to see how many of our ticket sales came through Landing Page A and how many came through Landing Page B.

3. Run experiments.

One of the simplest experiments to run is called an “A/B Test.” Control (to the best of your ability) all of the possible variables except one. Change that one variable for half of the test and measure the results.

For example, you could create two Facebook ads that are identical except for the headline: One reads, “Tickets to the WKRP Spring Fling Concert are on sale now” and links to Landing Page A while the other says, “See who’s playing the WKRP Spring Fling Concert” and drives people to Landing Page B. Set the Facebook ads to alternate so they are both shown an equal number of times. Watch to see which ad produces the most website clicks and, more importantly, results in the most ticket sales.

4. Review the results together.

Be sure to set aside time to review the results of your experiment with your team. Discuss the results and draw conclusions together. This ensures that everybody is on the same page.

After a week, let’s see which of the two Facebook ads has produced the most ticket sales. Interestingly, Headline B (“See who’s playing…”) resulted in more clicks, but fewer sales than Headline A (“Tickets…are on sale now”). While Headline B was attracting people who wanted to see the lineup, they apparently aren’t ready to make a purchase. As a group, you and your GM may decide that your budget is better spent on Headline A and shift your dollars accordingly.

The best way to figure out the proper digital strategy for your radio station is to set yourself to perform small experiments like this. If you would like help doing so, feel free to reach out to me.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Traffic Director Spotlight: Helen Skinner, WPXD-TV (Detroit)

Helen SkinnerHelen Skinner
WPXD-TV (Detroit)

Helen Skinner is the Traffic Director for WPXD-TV.  Helen has been in traffic for 37 years.

Q1: What is your favorite comfort food?
Helen:  My favorite comfort food is Tomato Soup with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. There were six kids in the family and Mom used to fix this for us quite a bit, so it takes me back to a time that holds nothing but wonderful memories.

Q2: Which Superhero would you be, and why?
Helen:  I would be Aquaman. His abilities include telepathy, which he uses to communicate with all sea life. How wonderful it would be to interact with all those magnificent creatures.

Q3: When I’m not working, I’d rather be …
Helen:  Spending time with the family. Take the time today to spend with those you love.

Q4: If I had the chance, I’d really like to have lunch with …
Helen:  How easy! With my mom. She passed away years ago. How I would love one last chance to see her and tell her how much I miss her and how much I love her.

Q5: Best advice you have ever received?
Helen: Let it go and move on. Let go of the past and embrace the future.

Q6: Tell us something about yourself that very few people know…
Helen:   After high school, I traveled for six months with a group called Up with People. They are still around, and have grown tremendously since those days. I would recommend this whole heartedly.  What an all-around amazing experience.

 

 

CBS, Disney, Fox, Univision File Comments with FCC to Support Foreign Ownership Rule Changes

According to a report in AllAccess, CBS Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, Inc., and Univision Communications, Inc., have filed comments in a joint letter to the FCC supporting extension of foreign ownership rule relaxation.

In the letter, the parties stated that the proposal to extend the looser foreign ownership limits and review procedures applicable to common carrier and aeronautical licensees to broadcasters as well have been endorsed by the NAB, the MMTC, Fox, Comcast, Nexstar, Media General, and T-Mobile, the latter of which the parties say, “can be said to owe its very existence to the Commission’s previous liberalization of foreign investment in common carrier (and other non-broadcast) licensees.”

Read more here.

FCC Reverse Auction Webinar Available On-Demand

The Federal Communications Commission has released a new on-demand webinar regarding the current spectrum auction.  Owners, general managers and other interested parties may find this of interest as it offers a sneak preview of the software will that will be used to enter their bid preferences.

While stations have attorneys who would likely manage this for participating stations, the webinar may help owners and managers understand the process in order to better communicate with legal counsel in a more effective manner.

The webinar can be found here.

FOIA Requests on the Rise for State Agencies

capitol3According to a report in MIRS, state departments say they are facing an onslaught of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The main state agencies in the spotlight, the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ), as well as Health and Human Services (DHHS), have been slammed with a record number of FOIA requests this year due to the media attention and coverage of the Flint water crisis.

The DEQ reported receiving 6,895 FOIAs during Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. So far in FY 2016, now in its sixth month, the department is up to at least 3,562 requests. The agency is projecting a 20-percent increase from last year, according to a DEQ spokesperson. The DHHS has had to bring on three temporary employees to help address the volume of FOIA requests. There have been at least 163 health-related FOIAs received by the DHHS so far this calendar year, compared to 680 total in 2015.

Mike Scott Joins Midwest Communications/Lansing

MikeScottMidwest Communications has announced that Mike Scott (pictured right) has joined the company as Operations Manager of their four-station Lansing cluster.  Mike will oversee WJQX-FM, WLMI-FM, WWDK-FM, and WQTX-FM.  Mike was previously with Kroll Communications’ WRSR-FM (Flint).

Mike’s background includes work at WOMC-FM, WNIC-FM, and WYCD-FM, all in Detroit.

Midwest VP/Market Manager Patrick Pendergast, in a news item appearing in All Access said,  “We are thrilled to land Mike given his talent and experience across a wide variety of formats. He is ideally suited to lead our four station cluster. As a Michigan native, he’s the perfect fit for us.”

Mike is quoted as saying, “I can’t express in words how excited I am to join the great team at Midwest Communications and lead this great programming group. I’d especially like to thank both Jeff McCarthy, Vice President of Programming and Patrick Pendergast  for this opportunity and look forward to joining the Lansing team.”

Nominations Open for MAB Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award

Our industry has some of the most outstanding people involved in it. Many industry leaders have served their community, their audience and their advertisers selflessly and tirelessly for years. It is time to recognize them! It is only fitting that as an industry we recognize excellence, those who go way above and beyond normal expectations. You may know a broadcaster like this, one who should be recognized.

Take a few minutes to nominate someone for the MAB Hall of Fame or Lifetime Achievement Award. The nominations close Friday, April 29.  Please click through to the application form here.  Fill out the form and attach a brief bio and any other documentation you may have to describe the outstanding job your nominee has done, going above and beyond what would be normally expected of a person holding a position in our industry. Criteria is listed on the website. If you need help, contact Alisha or Jennifer at the MAB: (517) 484-7444.

The Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement awards will be presented at the Annual Meeting and Advocacy Conference, August 30-31, 2016 at The Inn at St. Johns Conference Center, Plymouth Michigan.  For more information on the Conference, click here.

Associate Member Highlight: Comrex

ComrexStaff
Comrex – Fun Facts:

  • Comrex was founded in 1961. Our first product, designed by Comrex founder John Cheney, was a wireless microphone for use in live television news broadcasts. Since then, we’ve developed state-of-the-art equipment to meet a variety of broadcasting needs. From telephone couplers and hybrids, to POTS and ISDN codecs, to IP-based talk show management systems, and handheld IP codecs, Comrex has created a varied portfolio of products which have become industry staples over the years.
  • We are pioneers in IP broadcasting. The Comrex ACCESS, released in 2007, is an IP codec which, while it performs exceptionally in a variety of applications, is specialized for remote broadcasts. With ACCESS, users have conducted remote radio broadcasts from airplanes, moving bicycles, boats in the middle of the ocean, and mountains in the Himalayas. Additionally, we’ve applied our IP knowledge to other products, to build STAC VIP, our IP-based talk show management system and VH2, an IP-based two-line hybrid.
  • Comrex does television, in addition to radio! Though we’ve gained a reputation in radio, in 2012 we recognized an opportunity to apply our IP broadcasting knowledge to video. Comrex LiveShot is an IP-based video acquisition and transmission tool – weighing only three pounds, LiveShot plugs into the back of a camera and sends video and audio to a studio in real time with very low latency. LiveShot can also receive video and audio from the studio, making it easy to view teleprompter or programming from the station while also sending live footage from the field. Due to its portability and flexibility, LiveShot has become popular with users in a wide span of markets, from colleges to sports teams to large network affiliates.
  • The average Comrex employee has been with the company for over ten years. That is an incredibly low turnover rate! We care deeply about our team and there’s a reason our employees choose to stick around.
  • We’re entirely employee owned, and we’re proud of that. This means that Comrex isn’t accountable to outside investors – we answer only to ourselves, and to our customers. Our independence gives us the freedom to focus on customer service and careful research and development, rather than exponential profit growth. We’re never on a third-party’s timeline – we can truly prioritize the quality of our equipment over everything else. This care and attention to detail is present not just in our products, but in our interactions with customers.

For more information about our history and products, contact us at info@comrex.com, or visit our website at www.comrex.com.
COMREX_LOGO_tagline_500reverseComrex will be exhibiting at NAB 2016, from April 18-22 – our booth number is C1633. In the next month, we’ll be displaying at the ACM Western Region Conference, and the Worldwide Radio Summit. and the Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference and Expo, May 2-3, 2016.

For more information on upcoming events, visit our website at www.comrex.com.

MSU and WKAR Develop App for Flint Residents During Water Crisis

WKAR-031416_500
Photo credit; WKAR

Michigan State University and WKAR-TV have put the power of information in the hands of Flint residents through a new tool that navigates community resources in the wake of the ongoing water crisis.

The mobile app “Empower Flint” provides a checklist of important actions people can take to protect themselves, their families and pets as they battle elevated lead levels in the water supply. Released March 1, the app was developed by a team of researchers and specialists from MSU, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and WKAR-TV in collaboration with the people of Flint.

“Our goal was to build something that adapts to the needs identified by Flint residents, and that stands the test of time as community needs evolve,” said Kami Silk, MSU associate dean for research and professor of communication and agbio research. “Our hopes are that the app will fill an information gap and be embraced as coming from a trusted and familiar voice in Flint: MSU.”

The app’s “find” operation enables users to search for the closest water stations, free water filters, lead testing sites, community events, and sources of nutritious food. Users will also find directional maps, news feeds, and volunteer and community activities at their fingertips. Most important, “Empower Flint” pushes out critical alerts about water safety, lead levels, and immediate steps that residents can take for personal and public health.

“We saw a lot of experts and community partners providing a lot of important information,” said WKAR-TV Station Manager Susi Elkins. “Since we’re communicators, we saw it as a chance to put our expertise to use for the greater good and devise a way to make communicating that information as easy as possible.”

Associate Professor of Media and Information Brian Winn led the development of the app starting in mid-January with members of the College of ComArtSci’s GEL Lab.  Silk and Elkins assembled ongoing focus groups of residents to test and provide feedback the app.

The app may be downloaded to both iOS and Android devices here.