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Blogging to Grow your Tribe

| January 30, 2013

More Thoughts from the Recent New Media Expo

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — In olden times, radio, like other ad media, sold exposure, audience tonnage. Sales reps would show-off ratings rankers… which I always thought was daffy. Would you go to a job interview with nine other applicants’ resumés?

• But there our call letters were, in black and white, atop the page of whichever-demographic-we-sorted. Reps recited the Reach + Frequency spiel, promising that a radio ad schedule would help the retailer “build brand.” “We’ll make you the best-known” among all-who-sell-what-you-sell. Repetition, y’know?

• Fast forward to present day: Mere message exposure doesn’t do it anymore. The E-word en vogue is engagement, and money is flowing to digital opportunities that talk-with customers, rather than simply talk-at-‘em.

With self-publishers now at parity, printing presses and licensed transmitters are less-a-franchise. Heck, Newsweek just stopped the presses! For several years, the NFL has credentialed bloggers for a Super Bowl that fewer radio stations can afford to cover. Life-after Fox News Channel? Glenn Beck’s own thing made more money than Tom Cruise last year, according to Forbes magazine.

For legacy media like radio, this leveling-of-the-playing-field is both threatening and opportune.

• Threatening because new-tech competitors are interactive. Example: Twitter — effectively talk radio without the radio – is more diverse/engaging/entertaining than the caricature that comes to mind when you say “talk radio” to many people.

• Opportune because broadcasters can use Social Media to, as recent New Media Expo conference keynoter Amy Jo Martin puts it, “show some skin.” Do this right, and you’re no longer just a disembodied voice-in-the-dashboard. Highly recommended reading: her “Renegades Write the Rules: How the Digital Royalty use Social Media to INNOVATE.” Follow @KatieCouric on Twitter for a clinic in effective technique.

If you’re an on-air host, blogging can deepen your connection with listeners, especially if you’re working music radio, and keep hearing “keep it moving.” Blogging can also become the digital “inventory” that agencies now expect to see included with on-air spots…or for you to monetize yourself.

Another session, “Insane Loyalty: How to Get People Fanatically Addicted to You” was presented by enthused Dino Dogan, founder of, a “content distribution network built for bloggers, by bloggers.” Success factors he’s observed:

• Polarity: “Declare what you stand for. The Pepsi Challenge declared war on Coke.” The Gap conveys that “Our clothing is for YOU, not older people.” He contends that we can’t create polarity, “we tap-into existing polarities,” like our two major political parties. Or those Apple Mac/PC TV ads, “which forced you to declare a side.”

• Avatar: WHO are you working for? Who is your customer? In the most productive radio station meeting I witnessed in 2012, KNSI/St. Cloud’s staff profiled “Mike & Lisa,” their target listeners. Where they live and work, what they make, what they drive, where they shop, how-many/how-old kids, etc., etc. Photos of “Mike & Lisa” remind staffers who-to-talk-to. Dogan urges that if you, yourself, aren’t your target customer, “have first-hand high-touch” contact with your customer. “All other ‘research’ is filtered.”

• Status: “We’re status-seeking animals. Want people to be loyal to you? Give them status.” Example: airlines, which build loyalty with status rewards. “Put up some ropes!” somehow, like they do outside those hip Noo Yawk nightclubs The Beautiful People line-up to get-into. “Create value out of nothing,” with status symbols like the Tiffany box that makes the-diamond-inside more expensive.

• Be a catalyst for connections, which he demonstrated by telling several hundred attendees to “SMILE,” as he took our picture. He told us he’ll be posting the picture on his Facebook wall and invited us all to tag ourselves. And he offered Harley rallies as a great example of exploiting connections.

From the session “The Anatomy of a 100,000 Visitor Post: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Posts That Get Massive Traffic and Sharing,” by Jon Morrow, associate editor,

Five Traits of Viral Posts

1. What-you-post “lives at the intersection of ‘niche’ and ‘normal.’ Connect your topic to a topic that interests everyone.”

2. “It evokes explosive emotion.” Make the reader laugh, cry, scream.

3. “Surprise or even shock people.”

4. “Ride on the back of a detachable rocket,” meaning “give away your best stuff to bigger platforms,” to engage their tribes.

5. “Catch a traffic jet stream.” The trick, he explained, is to get re-Tweeted by someone with lots of followers, not lots of re-tweets from people with few followers.

tbugk See/hear/read more from Holland Cooke at; and follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke. Meet Holland Cooke at TALKERS New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6.

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Category: Digital