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Archive for July, 2009

Experience with BlogTalkRadio

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Ever wanted to broadcast a live call-in program — and have it available for later listening as an archived podcast?

BlogTalkRadio (www.blogtalkradio.com) allows you to do just that.

In the past several months, I’ve been testing this free service. It’s relatively easy to learn the basics. They’ve got some excellent tutorials on the site. The hard part, for me, is overcoming a background lacking in radio broadcasting experience.

I started out by setting up an account for myself, PRMikeInCincy.I practiced by interviewing social media enthusiasts such as founders of New Media Cincinnati, Social Media Breakfast/Cincinnati and Cincinnati Women Bloggers. I learned how to insert non-copywrited music and get interviewees prepared by sending them a list of questions in advance. I kept the shows to 15 minutes, and did them at the same time (mostly) on the same day of the week. I publicized on Twitter and Facebook. Each show got between 15 and 40 downloads, and counting.

Now, I’ve been interviewing program experts on a Hamilton County JFS (Job and Family Services) show. We’ve covered topics such as employment services, adoption and foster care, Medicaid and child support.

My goal is to give people an audio Q/A — something that helps them better understand the basics obout these programs and services.

I’ve ran into a few technical glitches, like the music intro not stopping when I hit the “stop” button during one show. Also, some of the program experts called in late, making me learn how to be nimble on the air. (You have them call a long-distance number, and you call one, too, and do the interview.)

Mostly, though, my initial impression is that this is a low-cost, low-time-involvement way to supplement other communication tools. It doesn’t take nearly as much time as recording and editing a podcast, although the quality isn’t there because it’s live and you don’t edit out your weaker stuff.

To sum things up, I’d suggest it to someone wanting to incorporate audio into their social media offerings to give it a try. Let me know what you think of it.

Categories: Audio

Chatting with a social media explorer

July 8, 2009 2 comments

Had a nice little chat late this afternoon with Jason Falls, a Louisville-based “social media explorer” for a brand-building agency. Some of my Twitter friends gave him my name when he sent out a tweet seeking city and county government entities who are using social media. He was doing research for a talk at a National League of Cities conference.

We both agreed that social media is not a replacement for traditional public relations — and some of the rules of the growing legions of social media experts were meant to be broken.

For example, at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, we primarily use Twitter to broadcast updates. It’s not a two-way communication vehicle for us. However, it does allow us to get the word out about our other social media offerings — such as live online chats and programs on BlogTalkRadio. It allows us to quickly tell key influencers in straegic audiences about upcoming events, such as open houses for those interested in becoming foster parents or workshops for attorneys about child support.

We spoke for a few minutes about Facebook, and the hard work it takes to build and keep a group of fans or followers.  We briefly touched on the blog that our director started earlier this year.

We talked about the need to promote social media offerings with traditional press releases, advertising and mentions during community presentations.

Near the end, Jason asked me to sum up what social media does for us. A bunch of thoughts came to mind.

But, basically, I think social media allows us to connect with our key audiences. It puts us in touch with key influencers and activists in those audiences. It complements our other communication tools and enriches our PR strategy.

I’m sure glad Kendra Ramirez and Daniel Johnson Jr. mentioned me to Jason. It was really cool visiting with a social media explorer.

Facebook advertising boosts number of fans

facebook-logoAs promised, here’s an update about our try at advertising on Facebook. We ran a simple ad with our logo and a list of services offered by the government social services agency where I work. The ad helped us boost the number of fans on our page from 132 to 176. We paid 50 cents per click for two weeks and targeted the Cincinnati area.

I was pleased with the results. I think we added a solid base of fans, a foundation upon which we can build a community with more than a passing interest in our programs and services.

In late January, we put a page and a group on Facebook as an experiment. At first, I aggressively sought friends in public relations, the media, social services and personal social circles — and invited them to join our group and become a fan of our page. I posted news and helpful information daily with a goal of attracting their friends to join, too. This has proved successful.

The ad excites me because it drew people who didn’t know me personally or professional — people who could benefit from our programs and services, or refer people who might. This ultimately could take pressure off of our phonelines and waiting rooms, which are extremely busy due to the economic downturn.

Just today, during a live chat about foster care and adoption on our Web site, one of the participants told me she learned about the chat on Facebook. She had a number of detailed questions about the adoption process. Who knows? Maybe we moved her closer to adopting one of the nearly 200 waiting for adoption in Hamilton County.

Side note: You have got to pay for a Facebook ad with a credit card. And it’s virtually impossible to get ahold of a person. Everything is automated.

Categories: Facebook