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How Not To Do Social Media: The Rock 101 Way

In a parallel universe, I’d love a career in radio. Unfortunately, the way things are going, it seems like some of the folks running radio stations don’t have a clue about how to survive in a New Media World, and who knows if Radio As It Is will continue well into the future.
Especially if folks like Vancouver’s Rock 101 keep fucking up the new media mix.
Being a part of the Corus Radio Network, I suspect the aging rock station’s social media work is being done by Jumpwire Media, who aren’t from Vancouver, but I’m not sure, and investigating that just isn’t important to me. So, let’s be clear that I’m unclear on who the Social Media Moron is in this scenario, but we’ll let their tweets do the talking.
So, about three weeks ago, I check my Twitter stream and there’s all this NOISE there. Seems someone has the CUTTING-EDGE GENIUS idea to try and boost their listening audience through Twitter, because suddenly there’s all these awful [ON AIR NOW] tweets from Rock 101.
Their Brainchild? Tweet EVERY SINGLE SONG played by the station. Every single song. And each song tweeted had no value added trivia or factoid, just the song and artist.
Even more awesome: The autofeed wasn’t working, so you’d get the song title partly cut off, like in the hilarious instance of [ON AIR NOW] Reilly, The Who. I asked if that was a song about Baba O’Reilly’s more conservative cousin, with less guitar. That took 2 or 3 days to fix, with hundreds of spammy tweets preceeding the fix.
And, like the rocket scientists they are, Rock 101 decided to be even more douchey by using the #Vancouver hashtag in every tweet, which one should use for interesting local content, not just wanking off for business purposes. When I called them out on that, their reply was that “lots of spam uses the #Vancouver hashtag already.”
Oh, so now you ADMIT you’re spamming me. That’s pretty awesome. Go, you!
During all this, I was vocally pissed about their “new” use of Twitter, and said much in public to my followers, while always using the @ClassicRock101 tag. This led me to having some private direct message conversations with whoever was behind the Twitter account too.
When they asked about another idea they had in the hopper — that of unfollowing the 2,000+ followers they had, choosing a “select” 101 accounts to follow — I replied as you see in the included screen shot here, but what I really wanted to say was that’s fucking elitist and dumb.
Why? Because they’re supposed to be a ROCK station. Rock’n’Roll was about telling THE MAN to FUCK OFF. Rock’n’Roll was about challenging long-held societal ideas, speaking out, getting involved, snubbing the system, and being your own man. Rock’n’Roll was Grace Slick singing about red pills that make you small. Go ask Alice. I think she’ll know.
Unfortunately, Rock 101 has decided to BE THE MAN and forget the little people, and this Fucking Dumb Idea is now their modus operandi, as they’re following the world’s most baffling 101 people, from Axl Rose to a couple little local bloggers. Apparently their fix was to “list” all their followers, but most Twitter users don’t even use lists or think they’re relevant.
Rock 101 have stopped their made-of-fail “ON AIR NOW” attempts, largely due to most people being pissed off about it (thank god). They’re full-steam-ahead on the Following 101 Not-So-Movers-Or-Shakers. And the result? They’ve lost 100+ followers in a couple weeks.
Here’s the thing.
Twitter is about engaging, not putting up walls.
I’m a personal tweeter. I’m not in it for the money or the glory, so I don’t follow everyone back and I really don’t give a shit what you think about my tweet stream — whether I’m swearing or angsty or goofy or what — because the minute I start caring about your thoughts is the minute it becomes a drag for me. When I start to please the people I would normally not attract, I start being less authentic, and set myself up for mass unfollows in the future.
In fact, when I become a Happy, Well-Balanced Tweeter, I attract more people that I know will unfollow me when I’m “myself.” And when I finally get bitchy and do a mega-rant, I get affectionate tweets from people who’ve followed me for a long time, saying they’ve missed my angst. Those are the people I want to keep around because they like me at my most uncensored, and that should be what it’s about.
But when it’s a radio station, your job is to address your audience, be relevant, have interesting content, and to engage. You’re not there masturbating. You have a chance to actually LISTEN to the audience you’re trying to make money from, and what do you do? You don’t follow them. Worse, you UNfollow them. Genius!
When Rock 101 asked me what I thought they should be doing, I said:
Be edgy. Have interesting rock trivia. Don’t kiss celebrity ass. Embrace the lack of CRTC regulations and SWEAR some. Establish that you ARE rock’n’roll, not just some corporate sell-out station that plays music from the ’70s. I’ve included a screenshot of some of what I’ve said.
And, when I said “be edgy,” I didn’t mean to have typos and improper capitalization, Rock 101.
Radio needs to get the internet right. If radio today wants to exist tomorrow, they need to figure the web out.
I find that The CBC and News 1130 Radio are two accounts getting it right when it comes to radio. The CBC itself, not so much, but their personalities, whether it’s radio reporter @TheresaLalonde or the On The Coast man himself @CBCStephenQuinn, really announce their content ahead of time, engage their audiences, and keep their Twitter accounts very relevant as a personal way of getting to know the big network. As for News 1130 Radio, I’d say it’s much the same — their reporters are all very engaged and present. The station itself retweets followers and follows 60% of those who follow them, they always announce who’s at the news desk, they reply to comments, and they’re just plugged in. As far as both these examples are concerned, they believe Twitter’s a valuable part of their audience. News 1130 even held one of the best tweetups I’ve attended, and that’s a great way to thank your audience.
When it comes to media today, they have a chance to listen to real people and engage with their public. Want to be successful? Do that. Listen, engage, make people feel heard.
When someone like Rock 101 comes along and thinks, “Hey, fuck the 2,500 people we’ve been following, let’s whittle that down to 101, let’s broadcast everything the station’s doing, literally, and let’s start being newsy,” they can’t be surprised when their following starts dwindling, and when the few who stick around really aren’t dialed in.
Unfortunately, Rock 101 has no idea who they are. They’re tweeting news about lattes, traffic, and other silly things that I would be turning to other sources for, not a rock station. And, judging by the corporate approach on Twitter, they’re not even much of a rock station anymore.
Rule Number 1 in social media, man: Know who you are.
Rule Number 2: Know who you want to engage.
Both counts, Rock 101? You fail. Better luck next time, kids.
Note: During the simple hour it’s taken to write this post, Rock 101 has lost 2 more followers. Now that’s a social media strategy with results… just not the results they want.