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Posted by radio On November - 21 - 2012

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[By Helen Phushela]

Social networking has now taken over the world; people are no longer limited to sending letters, SMSes or making phone calls to communicate. It has become more economical to Tweet, BBM, WhatsApp or Facebook someone than to call. Radio stations have taken full advantage of these mediums to reach a wider audience. In the days of landlines and telegrams people could not put a face to the voice. Radio presenters were not as popular as small screen personalities. Social networks provide interaction and of-cause free marketing.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, twitter, MySpace, and linked-in quadrupled from 2005 to 2009. Society says that the sites are good for their social life and interacting with others. While celebrities and media personalities reckon they bring them closer to their fans. On the other hand sceptics still say it is the dangers of social networks outweigh all these other functions.  According to data released by the South African Audience Research Foundation, 16.4% of South Africans with access to the internet use it for social networking. People spend most of their time on social networks, breaking news are now on twitter before they are aired. E.g. the passing of kwaito star Brown Dash and song star Whitney Huston and many others were tweeted minutes after they died. Journalists now have to compete with social networks; this is changing the news and information landscape. Now people tune into radio for quality detailed news, others for confirmation of what they heard or read on twitter, Facebook or tumbler. “Though I haven’t been using social media that much, I think it is all about engagement, posting things that are of interest to your followers and fans. Communicating my work to them and letting them in on who DJ Scratch is.” Said a local radio station DJ. Using these platforms gives radio personalities a full on identity, they get to build their brand as well.

The pros of social media for radio, is that it allows for listeners to interact with their favourite radio personalities long after the show is over. They know who is behind the mic and can now know a bit more about the voice blasting through their speakers on their way to work. Every station and presenters are brands that need to be marketed to keep them relevant. Social media works as a gig guide as well, for radio personalities to let their fans and listeners know where they will be. It has made it easy and possible for them to maintain their fan base. Now they are no longer a world away from the people who buy their music and listen to them daily. It’s a vehicle to cross promote their shows.

That is where the four C’s also come into play, Connect, Communicate, Curate and Create. Social media has created a perfect platform for radio stations and show presenters to connect with listeners by enabling them to post topics on Facebook, to tweet and to blog on content. The show goes on even after the last jingle plays. Communicate, letting listeners into their lives and keeping things above board. Curating by pointing listeners in the right direction, music links and show recordings, articles etc. Creations, letting people know where you at, where your heading after the show. Giving them a chance to bump into you and say hi.

Social networks do not have regulations that can actually secure a conviction if someone infringes on your rights. Social networks such as twitter have made and brought down many stars, many celebrities launched attacks on each other on social networks. Tarnishing their brand, when their relevance is short lived and people quickly pull away. They are also good hunting ground for stalkers.

Never the less the pros of social networking outweigh the cons, sceptics may think of it as prowling place for dodgy and unruly people. Truth of the matter is that social networks provide for free marketing for all businesses, radio included. Listeners get to connect with personalities as if they were friends. The gap between radio and its audience has been bridged.

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