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What Howard Stern can teach us about online marketing

182188628Howard Stern gets away with a lot.

Being on subscription-based satellite radio vs. traditional AM or FM stations, he’s much freer to speak his mind without worrying about the FCC, local station directors or hordes of angry members of the public – so more f-bombs all around!

Why a radio shock jock like him is showing up on a content planning blog is because of what he occasionally says about the collective mainstream modern radio industry. Among other offenses, he accuses “all of them” of relying too much on anecdotal evidence or unproven marketing mumbo-jumbo.

One particular bit of wisdom came last fall when he was razzing Lisa G, one of his news reporters, about her earlier years working the morning shift with Ed Lover and Dr. Dre on New York’s Hot 97.

Every day at 7:20 a.m., she said their team was required to deliver the “roll call,” in which they gave shouts out to listeners and their hometowns.

Howard was amused, and envisioned the pronouncement from station management telling the co-hosts how vital it is to do this bit at precisely this time — something along the lines of “it’s been scientifically proven that you have the most listeners at this time.”

This caused him to launch into a lengthy tirade about those kinds of station edicts that sound important at the time, but really exist to keep management happy and are based on not-necessarily proven metrics.

Hearing this segment made me think of all the theories about how often and when are the best times to post blogs and social media.

Any good marketing manager can and should give you a qualified answer, backed up by expert studies displaying times of day people tend to visit sites and social media pages. The stated recommendations always sound logical, and it’s hard to dispute something if you actually see a rise in traffic following these formulas.

But “posting like clockwork” in your marketing plans may have its down-sides.

  • It becomes forced. If you have good employees, they’ll work hard to sync their clocks and schedules around mandatory update times. This is good, unless they’re putting other items on hold to hit these possibly arbitrary times, and worrying more about the clock.
  • It can become less about content. Howard points out that his show still follows a schedule and has certain items to include every day, but everyone on his team is allowed to stretch things a little and take things as they come. He maintains that having absolute requirements can be confining to your talent and message.

As online marketing rock stars, you have an advantage over radio in that your content can reach people all day, not just those who happen to be by their computers at update time. And unless you make a big deal about stating a posting time, your average Facebook user may not care whether your a.m. update is at 7:32 or 7:35.

If you have the management support, feel free to experiment. Even if the metrics say heaviest traffic is at a certain time, will people follow if you try it a little earlier or later?

Joe B recently concluded a free 3-month trial for Sirius XM and wishes they’d quit calling. He also writes.

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Freelancer Joe B

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