Howard Stern anointed himself as the “King of All Media” for his successes outside radio. His television career includes several late night shows, pay-per-views and home video releases. Stern is the author of several books and made a movie from his book Private Parts, a self deprecating comedy starring Stern and his radio show staff as themselves. How does Howard transcend these mediums and continue to keep it real? More importantly, what lessons can we learn from him and his legion of fans for the online world.
What Howard can teach us all about creating, maintaining and building an online social media presence?
Love him or hate him, one thing you cannot deny, is Howard’s total commitment to transparency with his audience and guests. There are no topics or areas of his life that have not been shared, dissected or poked fun at over the course of his career. Everybody loves a train wreck and though seemingly leading a charmed life, Howard talks openly about everything from having small private parts to the divorce from his first wife.
What has Howard taught us? Consumers are hip to all the marketing jive thrown at them for all these years and frankly they are tired of the propaganda wars. Consumers can see right through bogus advertising claims and hyped messaging. In order to survive and thrive as as brand today, individuals want to know they can depend and believe in what a brand does and says. Creating and maintaining customer expectations through communications and technology are easier than ever. With the use of these tools and platforms, both positive and negative messages can spread faster and travel farther than ever before. Embracing honesty, transparency and trust factors are more important than ever before in developing a brands online presence.
2) Howard’s audience is his show
Forget all the celebrities that visit and call in to Howard’s radio show as part of his content creation strategy. Consumer generated content and plenty of it comes directly from his audience in all forms. How does Howard create even more content? By letting his audience, all with strong opinions either in agreement or disagreement with Howard or his guests POV, talk on and on with Howard acting as the community manager, moderating and facilitating the discussion to a frothy head.
By sticking to some basic tenants that all good social media marketers use in their posts on social platforms like blogs, Facebook and Twitter, Howard broadcasts hours and hours of content using the following structure. Or as we like to call it in Web 2.o speak, Link Bait 🙂
1. Communicate a Benefit
2. Create Controversy or Debate
3. Ask a Question
5. Big Claims and Promises
Clearly, Howard has the gift of gab but more importantly, his gift for pushing all the right buttons with his guests and audience is what helps make the show pivotal and controversial. Letting his audience weigh in on everything and anything, all the whilst teasing, taunting and even encouraging them on the fly. A live op ed piece with real-time commentary. My favorite line from Private Parts his movie into why people tune in to his show:
Howard taught us that to be engaging you need to not only put your self out there and forward facing but engage the community and let your friends, fans and followers contribute to the discussion.
3) Make your brand the cause
As the old saying goes in cause marketing, “People don’t join causes, people join people with causes.” Brand marketing is taking on a whole new meaning, simply put, “marketing with meaning.” Howard’s premise has always been his job is to entertain us and he gets paid well for it. By not selling T-shirts or coffee mugs with his name on them, possibly diluting his brand equity, legions of fans are potentially more willing to embrace his causes.
Running for Governor of New York, Howard realized the potential in and having the audience join his cause. In 1994 Stern announced his candidacy for Governor of New York as a Libertarian, challenging Mario Cuomo for re election. After creating some groundswell for his campaign, Stern withdrew his candidacy after unwilling to disclose his finances as required by the Ethics in Government Act. Cuomo was defeated in the gubernatorial election on November 8 by George Pataki, whom Stern backed. Did Stern shift and sway his audiences voting?
Today in the social sphere and specifically with cause marketing, we can see more and more people joining Brands which are in tune with their causes!
In a recent article by Ann Marie Kerwin, she outlines what causes resonate with Millennial and Gen Y’s. Once you understand what motivates your audience getting them involved, fully circles back to the Brand level of transparency and authenticity. As you can see from the chart, Howard hits upon several of these themes, most notably freedom of speech.
How To Build Your Brand Using Social Media
Howard has shown us how brands can take their message and their brand and help distribute that message through the social spectrum in a way that lets Brands connect with their friends, fans and followers in a meaningful interaction.
These are big ideas to embrace and even more difficult to execute both on a strategic and tactical level. But if Howard has taught us nothing, Transparency, Engagement and Marketing with Meaning are all about being genuine.
The social web creates a new model for marketing and treats customers not just as consumers, but as self actualized, dynamic human beings with an opinion that matters. These new customers are engaged and informed, with the ability to easily connect with each other and influence peer decisions.
Online marketing as a catalyst is engendered by a two way conversation. Brands using social media as a vehicle to communicate, need to appreciate and respect the conversation and consumer principles at work.