Social Media Software


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I've heard people say that radio broadcast was perhaps the first form of social networking. While that was probably true 30 years ago. Those of us who have been around long enough to remember the days (pre SS7 switching centers) of figuring out how to access the telephone company conference bridges typically used to establish communications between multiple telco linemen, were usually busy after school with other kids from the area. This was probably the real first instance of social networking in the mid 1960s.

Radio is a medium trying to find its way in the rapidly shifting world of cyber space. Terrestrial radio has been slow to keep up with the offerings of social media-centric Internet radio platforms such as Pandora.

In his blog from a couple of years ago, consultant Mark Ramsey of Ramsey Media summed it up perfectly:

"Your radio station is to a radio network as any one of your listeners is to her network of friends, her 'social network.' And 'social media' describes the content and the pipeline for that content people choose to share with their friends. Where there's no sharing, there are no 'social' and no 'media.' Social media is not a promotional vehicle per se for your station. It is a network of relationships that live outside you-it is a set of connections you can be part of only if the participants in those relationships want you there. It is not 'you push, they consume. It's more 'you join in, and they share.'

"Do these broadcasters realize that Pandora (as only one example) knows infinitely more about each one of its 60 million consumers than the average radio station knows about any of theirs?"

I think we have made some progress with combining terrestrial radio and social media, largely with the help of a variety of social media software offerings. These systems are no longer just front ends to feed popular social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. They need to integrate seamlessly with not only desktop PCs, but especially smartphones and even be capable of SMS texting to mobile phones. The capability to work with smartphones is essential going forward, as it is believed that these will ultimately replace the in-dash radio. Some stats as evidence:

■ IDC says 153.9 million smartphones sold worldwide in 2Q2012. Total 2011 sales were 491.4 million units.

■ Gartner estimate sales of smart phones in the same period at some 153.8 million. Estimated total sales across 2011 were 472 million or 31 percent of mobile communication device sales. This compares with figures for 2010 from the same company of 297 million smartphones or 19 percent of the 1.6 billion mobile phones sold that year. So year-on-year Smartphone sales rose 58 percent.

According to a recent PEW research study titled "State of the News Media 2012": "The vast majority of Americans still report listening to AM/FM radio weekly. But, as many as 40 percent of Americans now listen to audio on digital devices, and that is projected to double by 2015, while interest in traditional radio-even the HD [Radio] option - is on the decline. One of the prime arenas for digital listening was the car, once the domain of AM/FM radio."

The software should also have the ability to allow the station to monetize or develop a revenue stream through the use of specific listener habits, buying patterns, etc. and finally it should allow the station to maintain its branding across all the platforms.

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