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SR!@20

Media shifts: Haranguing the social media

Editor's note: This column will be ongoing through 2019 as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sound RIDER!. In 2009 we produced a similar series of columns to commemorate and document the first 10 years. That compendum is avilable today at Amazon.com

In the last book about the history of this monster we call Sound RIDER!, I ended the final chapter vowing to stay away from the evils of social media. That was authored in late 2008. Since then I broke my vow. But when I did, I did it on my terms and made a silk purse out of a sow’s butt. So, it’s only fitting we kick the first chapter off with a look at social media and how we morphed with it to make it work for us.

In 2009, where the last book leaves off, Facebook had been on a torrent, growing exponentially since its inception in 2004. The whole thing was an absolute scam allowing the company to breach its users' privacy and selling the information to advertising companies. That’s still pretty much the case today, but keep in mind, if you opted in, you gave them the okay to do what they want with your personal information.

Twitter had been around since 2006. I could never understand how one could actually disseminate information over 140 characters (about 10-15 words).

All around us, people were spending more time thumbing their smartphones, reading social media feeds. In 2010 I had personally opened my own Facebook and Twitter accounts to explore why these technologies were consuming so much of people’s time.

And I realized I wasn’t going to change people’s behavior. When Derek Roberts arrived here at SR! in 2014, he agreed.

So, if people are going to consume these social media feeds, we would be there in them. But managing these feeds takes time to create the content and police the reactions. We didn’t have it in the budget to have a dedicated person who would do nothing but weave social media fodder for the masses - AKA a social media organ grinder, or rat on the social media treadmill.

However, we already had a long-running column in our online magazine called News Bytes. In that column we would post information on staff changes at dealers, openings, closures and other local information that someone might not want to wait until the next month to find out.

As it turns out, Twitter's original design was quite the same. Disseminate short spurts of key information at will. And at the same time, you could thread a Facebook account together with Twitter, so whatever you posted on one would propagate to the other. As the technology continued to develop, it was possible to run either a Facebook and/or Twitter feed onto a website. Bingo – we could do the same thing we’d been doing with News Bytes by originating those blips at either Facebook or Twitter and letting them flow right into the publication without any extra work. I was liking this. In the fall of 2014, I flipped the switch and there we were, on social media.

As much as I hated the privacy intrusion FB was executing to any soul who wanted to divulge their location, birthdate, real name, and who all their family and friends were, the door was open, and we began to look at how we could harness the information available to us to target our current and future audience. Using FB’s ad tools, we ran a series of posts and were able to target motorcyclists, in the Pacific Northwest, between the ages of 18-65, who rode whatever brand we called out and have our posts appear in complete strangers’ feeds. By posting the right content we could get people excited and educate them about Sound RIDER! as well as happenings and even the history of riding in the Pacific Northwest.

One such post was in January of 2015 when we pulled together the text and photos from an article written by Frank Richardson Pierce in 1921 where he was one of the first journalists to enter the western Olympic Peninsula and report on a horrific tornado that laid acres of wood down from the Columbia River all the way to the Hoh rain forest. People went nuts. We watched as the post views grew to over 20,000 in less than a week.

We were moving eyeballs away from social media and into our publication. We couldn’t have asked for anything more… or could we?

Stay tuned for next month's installment.

TM/January 2019


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