Famous Lies: The Check’s in the Mail and Q101 Needs Facebook Fans

Posted on September 19, 2011


Sayings like “The check’s in the mail,” “This will only take a minute,” “It’s not me it’s you,” or “I’ll pay you back on Tuesday,” don’t work well in the world of social media where rule number one when it comes to marketing is, “be honest.”

This is not revolutionary advice. Discussions of the value of “transparency” in social media are everywhere.

Everywhere except where the new owners of Q101 hang out.

I don’t mean Merlin Media who owns the broadcast license for the 101.1 FM frequency in Chicago. I’m talking about the local broadcasters who purchased the intellectual property of Q101 including the email database from Emmis Communications.

They are the same guys who got some attention for their “Buy the Loop” campaign that made a small splash, then faded away before Emmis sold Q101 and WLUP to Merlin Media. The gist of the campaign promised “big things” if the Loyal Loopers could all just band together.

Now they are at it again using the Q101 brand. Late last week I got an email from the new owners trumpeting the same old song. Here’s how it starts:

The bottom line is, “they” don’t think WE matter….  Who are “they”?  Please read this entire email.
“They” think they can make more money by reading news stories. “They” think people who listen to Alternative have no buying power. “They” are the radio dinosaurs.  They are the people in control…or are they?

For starters the answer is YES, they are in control. But we press on:

The truth is, stations like Kiss and B face the same issue.  But you know why those stations are still around?
Even though Kiss and B face the same prejudices from the dinosaurs controlling radio, they manage to stay alive… Why is that? The reason is simple.  The audience for those stations is mobilized and active.  Guess which stations in Chicago have the largest Facebook fan base, by a MILE.

So the implication is that the reason B96 and Kiss 103.5 are still around as opposed to Q101 is the number of Facebook fans each station has.

The reality is that the sale of Q101 had nothing to do with ratings or revenue. It was all about the financial health of Emmis Communications, but for the sake of argument let’s stay with their analogy about Facebook fans.

When Q101 signed off it had a 1.5 share of the total listening audience in Chicago while in the most recent ratings B96 and Kiss 103.5 had 3.7% and 3.5% respectively.

That wasn’t because of Facebook.

Yep, B and Kiss.  They each have over 100,000 fans.  Q101 has 40,000.  Most of the other stations in Chicago have less than 40,000. So what does it all mean?  If Q101 has 100,000 fans we’ll get our alternative back on the radio? Put it this way.  IF we have 101,000 fans of Q101 on Facebook….think the chances are better?Of course they are.  Why?  Because of what it means.  It means the audience cares.  It means the audience took time to click like. It means we can reach the audience.  That’s HUGE.  If we can reach the audience, we can tell them where the new station is.  If we can reach the audience, we can show advertisers WE MATTER.

The truth starts to come out. This is a ploy to get people to become Facebook fans because it’s a way to show potential Q101.com advertisers – and maybe any independent broadcasters looking for a format — the station has a strong fan base.

Just say so. That might move me to help you out. But alas, honesty is not in the cards:

Imagine what happens if we have 200,000 Facebook fans….without a radio signal.  It tells the industry we have DOUBLE the power and reach of radio stations that bill $18 million a year.

No it doesn’t. Please stop lying to me.

Next, after a short description of how each Q101 Facebook fan only needs to convert SIX other people to the cause, the letter ends with this P.S.:

We know how the radio business works. 

Saying you know how the radio business works is like saying you are “cool.” If you have to say it you aren’t.

We have a combined 30 years in the business, and while getting 101,000 Facebook fans doesn’t guarantee anything, it will go a LONGway.  There’s a lot we’re working on behind the scenes and when we put all the pieces together (with you) we can make BIG things happen. Tell your friends….tell your family.  Share this stuff on Facebook and Twitter…and we’ll do our part!

And here’s the return of the “big things” going on “behind the scenes,” just like there were with the Loop in the last campaign.

If you need Facebook fans to sustain a beloved brand just ask. Don’t shroud it in mystery and promises of big things.

Be honest.

We know the check isn’t in the mail.