What Did You Post About Osama?

I’m at the computer on Monday morning, May 2nd.  The news about the death of Obama Bin Laden came out last night, and the social media world has been all over this, fast and furious.

It’s a time when lots of emotions are running high in social media, and elsewhere online.  Many, many individuals are sharing their feelings, and many radio brands are chipping in with thoughts, feelings, pictures, video, and chances for listeners to express themselves.

It’s a special, unique time.  Every now and then, the fabric of daily life gets up-ended in a huge experience we all share.

However, getting cold-blooded here, what should radio brands do at times like this … what’s in their self-interest?

Obviously, this is when news/talk stations should launch into overdrive.  I don’t know how many people got the news about Osama’s demise from Facebook and Twitter instead of the mainstream media, but it’s gotta be a significant number.  News/talkers can add to their on-air coverage with updated information on social media.  Even if you’re live blogging in real time on your website, you can link that to your Facebook page, and keep folks updated on Twitter, too.  Plus, there are all sorts of opportunities to ask people what they think of different developments.  You could do so by asking an open-ended question, or using the polling feature of Facebook Questions.

In addition, if you are doing a personality morning show and you’re talking about this, you want to use social media to open up more interaction and engagement with your fans and listeners.  For more on how to do so, check out what to do before, during and after the morning show.

However … what if you’re a music station, and you’re more about fun or workplace listening or relaxation than current events?  What’s the best thing to do for your brand?  Is it helpful to make lots of posts about a big news event like this?

Three points:

It probably won’t hurt you.  It can feel good to share a special moment with your fans.  Plus, it’s tough to post your normal status updates while a huge news story is going on.

It probably won’t help your brand.  If people know you for Today’s Soft Rock with Less Talk … and news coverage is not a part of your brand … even your fans look to other sources for news coverage.  They probably won’t position you in the part of their brains that keeps track of where to find the latest news.  So, using your website and social media to keep them updated on news may not be any help for your brand, long-term.

It just might be the right thing to do at the time.  Bin Laden’s death … like other huge news stories … carry a lot of emotion, and take over everyday life’s routine for a while.  We radio people feel a drive to make sure that we get critical info like this to our listeners, and share the time with them.

So, this is really more than just a social media issue.  It’s a brand management issue.  For music-intensive stations, you can inform and engage your biggest fans using your digital media tools, while you keep your on-air product super-clean.

On the other hand … you don’t want to get tripped up by your efforts at a time like this.  If you’re a station that succeeds on huge workplace listening to your long music sets … don’t go thinking something like this: “We posted a dozen Facebook updates about Bin Laden!  This has gotta help our numbers!”  Just because it’s the right thing to do doesn’t mean it’s going to turn into more appreciation for what makes your brand unique.

Meanwhile, at times like this, there’s a need for stress reduction.  Did you know that, on big, emotional news days, online porn sites see a big increase in usage?  Online porn is, frankly, a stress reduction tool for many people.  If you’re a music-intensive station, you’re probably a stress reduction service, too.  What you do takes people away from the stress of everyday life.  So, there’s a real value in staying true to what made your brand successful, even at a time like this.  When people have enough news coverage, they want a break.  You are that break.  Be proud of that good work you do.

What do YOU think?  Feel free to add a comment below … or join our Facebook page and chime in there … or click my name below to get in touch with me!

Chris Miller

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