Sunday, April 17, 2011

Increase The Frequency

It didn't ring true when I read it, and after a week sitting at the feet of gurus I return from the mountain top re-convinced. One Facebook message a day is not enough, sending out multiple messages a day - including the same message - is important, and I think I have the answer to how that idea even got started.

I freely admit to having picked up from Rod Harlan three years ago at this same conference the "drive time" clock and the East Coast-West Coast. I felt like I even proved the point in our #ThanksArk Twitter campaign over the holiday and then with VoteMallett.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, there it was in PRSA Tactics - an august NFL team proclaiming the iron rule of one Facebook per day.  I have heard feedback from people in and around our athletic department too - I was cluttering up the messaging.

Perhaps I was missing some research here.  I was more than willing to listen. After all, I know I have friends that overshare, and I eventually block them or drop them.

Still, in the back of my head was this voice of one of our former athletes, now - sorry no insult intended here - middle age mom. The target demo. And her words, as she held up her iPhone, pointing at the open Facebook ap; "if it doesn't show up in here, it doesn't get into my life."

Or, as Alexandra Gebhard quipped off-handed at the end of her presentation Wednesday, "how many of you are convinced that the new browser is Facebook?"

I won't drag these experts by name into this fray, but I made an effort to ask one after the other - what about frequency. Is there too much each day? A pretty standard answer was no, but that depended on what you we saying.

That's when the light turned on.  The friends that we block are the ones that are creaming us with game invites, horoscopes, what they ate today, cute cat videos - info spam. I think this is why people - especially those close in to a program - want to limit the number of messages each day or limit it to only certain things. They see everything we do, every time we post it and assume that it is annoying.

Fans of college teams WANT that info, and if we take the time to interact with them, they will want to consume even more.

Plus, many of the fans are not in Fayetteville, or are busy in the morning or the evening.  Again, don't look at the social stream on the home page in Twitter or Facebook - it's all there in a row - and it gives a false impression that too much is going.

The way you have to view it is within the context of a social stream. Spacing is what makes the difference. Not posting within an hour or so, and not repeating key information until the next window is essential.

To put this in another context, I hate ESPN Radio. Why? Because it literally repeats every 20 minutes. The host getting ginned up about the exact same point, in almost the exact same way, every few minutes. It's not an accident, research shows that most people don't stay with the show more than 15-20 minutes - get in the car, listen, get out of the car.

Look, I love long-form radio shows, and this format drives me crazy. But I'm not who they are programing for. Same for your social media stream - don't manage it based upon yourself - who looks at the whole stream and sees it as a single block. Same applies for your small percentage of fans that take their tweets as text alerts - they will get it a lot with text messages, but you can't design strategy for this small minority. Plus, the jaded pros forget that some fans LIKE that kind of interaction and can't get enough if the info is quality.

The radio analogy is important. Scott Bourne cut his media teeth as a youngster in college working the clock at a local radio station DJ'ing. Back in the land before time, that meant managing messages that were read methodically and on a regular schedule - the clock - to stay in the format. He stresses that you need to catch people in their real-time stream. Few people are going to scroll back more than one or two screens to "catch up" when they have been away from their twitter.

Here is where Rod Harlan lays down his scheme, all based on east coast time (where he lives): just before 9 a.m., just before noon, just before 5 p.m.; with repeat window at 8 p.m. Why 8 p.m.? Cause that's 5 p.m. PST. Notice also, "just before" as in maybe 10 minutes til the hour. What's the first thing someone may do before they walk into work, head out to lunch, leave for the day? Check Twitter to see if there is something happening.

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