The media industry has undergone a profound transformation in how we engage our audience. Now, with the mass adoption of Internet-connected devices and social platforms, companies can instantly access millions of people at once, and this unprecedented shift has huge implications for media companies. Social complements the radio request line and listeners are encouraged to respond in real time via posts, texts or tweets. Similarly, comment threads on websites enable readers to share their thoughts immediately.

For media executives, it’s especially critical to keep up with how audiences choose to communicate. To succeed in this ecosystem, companies must rethink their internal organization as well as their overall business operations if they're truly committed to bringing social media to the forefront. Here’s how:

1. Give every personality a voice

At Clear Channel we’re able to speak to our diverse audiences in a number of ways: Through our national brand, our local radio personalities, our digital platform and the artists we work with. We embrace the plethora of voices available to us and the diversity that they bring to our social presence. Showcasing many perspectives and reaching a variety of audiences through individual Twitter handles, Instagram feeds and personalized wall posts is an important differentiator, so use it to your advantage.

2. Encourage authenticity

Issuing a script and asking everyone to disseminate via social does not work. While there may be some key points that need emphasis, talent and social media staff need to speak in their own personal voices. With talent (artist or DJs) it is essential that the content, the frequency and the social channel are all authentic and natural to how the person likes to communicate with their fans.

3. Use the Big Three Social Platforms

It’s not enough to create a hashtag, place it at the bottom of a TV screen and hope that people will use it. Rather, authentic engagement requires a thoughtful strategy and targeted execution. To succeed at social, media companies must build a presence on multiple channels, starting with the Big Three social platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each of these platforms allows you to connect with your audiences in unique ways. Facebook is the “branding voice” because it’s the most effective medium for your company to release consumer-facing news. Twitter is great for the “individual voice” as it allows personalities to engage with their audience through short, snappy dialogues. The “visual voice” is Instagram, where it’s important to capture the aesthetic that best reflects the look and feel of your company and its representatives.

4. Match the content to the platform

Each of the channels above offers the opportunity to tap into a new voice and cater to different audiences. For example, Facebook reaches an older demographic than Instagram. Twitter acts as middle ground in terms of age demographics and its brevity lends itself to short, time-sensitive news items, like announcing a contest or quickly interacting with fans. Instagram skews younger, so it’s optimal for reaching today’s youth – especially since they’re comfortable in a visual-first world. Your Instagram presence should be highly polished, featuring thoughtful images that convey a style that matches with your overall brand.

5. Embrace organic moments

We can learn a lot from Oreo’s epic Super Bowl tweet, not the least of which is that being nimble on social media has huge rewards. Capitalizing on the biggest news of the moment, whether a fashion faux pas or a power failure, will drive interactions and engagement across all channels. By taking advantage of unexpected live moments, you’ll create a more memorable presence. Remember, social is not nine to five – it’s 24/7.

6. Respond in a timely fashion

Not responding to a consumer on a social platform is like not picking up the phone – yet surprisingly, some companies aren’t making this connection. A 2012 study by STELLA Service found that of the top 25 retailers on Twitter, only two – Zappos and L.L. Bean – replied to 100% of daily customer service questions in a 45-day period. Social is the new customer service line, and users appreciate prompt responses. By addressing comments and complaints immediately, you’ll win more followers, friends, likes and brand ambassadors.

7. Look for the next big thing

At iHeartRadio, we’re bullish on using new platforms to reach our fans and listeners, and we continue to experiment with emerging social media sites like Tumblr, Vine, Pinterest, and Flipboard. For example, the iHeartRadio Music Festival earlier this year generated 2.3 billion impressions, double vs. prior year. We also leveraged Instagram in 2013 and generated significant buzz as a result: This photo-sharing experience accounted for 23% of all social media activity, as compared to less than 1% in 2012. As you begin to expand your social presence, look to young, urban audiences to help you identify the next big thing, as they are often ahead of the curve. It’s best to hedge your bets early: If the site reaches the mainstream, your brand’s presence is already established; if it fades, shift your energies elsewhere. Social platforms are becoming more vital to businesses every day and it’s imperative that you craft a strategy that works for your company.

If you’re able to follow these seven tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming one of the best in the industry.

Radha Subramanyam is a seasoned media and entertainment executive with a significant trackRadha Subramanyam record as a leader in Media Research and Consumer Insights. She is one of the few individuals in Media who has worked in TV, Digital, Radio and Social media. Her experience in these various media forms spans the Programming, Marketing and Advertising Sales aspects of the business. She is a visible speaker at events around the country and the world. Radha can be reached at radhasubramanyam@clearchannel.com. Read all Clear Channel's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Clear Channel.

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