Business Owner “Likes” Radio And Increases Facebook Followers By 571%

Effective Radio Advertising Portland Maine FacebookA billion people now use Facebook. More than 700,000 of these users are in the state of Maine.  Ry Russell, owner of The Saco Drive-in Theater in the greater Portland area, knew that he could sell more tickets by converting a small portion of Maine’s social media users into fans of his page: Using traditional radio advertising to achieve his goal, Ry expanded the business’s number of Facebook followers from 2800 to 16,000 in just over 2 years.

According to The United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association, there are currently only 366 drive-ins in the United States.  During the 1950s, there were more than 4000.  The Saco Drive-In Theater had been in business since 1939, but by 2010 was all but dead.  That’s when Ry took over.  “The Drive-In,” says Ry, “died for no other reason than the way it was communicated.”  Ry developed a communication strategy that “put prospective customers through a chain of efforts that led to their consumption of the drive-in.”

Radio Drives The Drive-In Customers To Facebook

The first segment of Ry’s “chain” was to capture prospective customers through creation of an engaging commercial. The medium Ry chose for his commercial was radio. Ry says, “Like people told me the Drive-in was dead, I also felt a lot of traditional media was dead.” “But,” adds Ry, “radio is a great branding tool; it hits a lot of people.”

The next link in Ry’s chain is what happens at the conclusion of each media exposure. According to Ry, “At the end of every radio ad, we ask the [listener] to commit to another level. In this case, we ask them to join our Facebook page.” As a result of this specific call-to-action, Ry can measure radio’s effectiveness. Ry says, “What we are very comfortable doing is running radio ads during scheduled periods of time. We can see that we ran 3 ads on a particular day and then compare it to how many new Facebook fans we acquired within 24 to 48 hours of that advertisement. A lot of times it’s between 45 and 75.” 

Ry’s strategy of combining traditional radio with Facebook is validated by “The Infinite Dial-2012,” a media usage study conducted by Edison Research and Arbitron.  This study reveals the following:

  • 56% of all Americans now have a profile on a social media site. This up from 24% in 2008.
  • Facebook is the dominant social media site engaging 54% of all Americans. The other major sites including LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, and Google+ combined engage 42% of Americans.
  • 22% of all Americans access their social media sites “several times” per day.

This increase in social media consumption has had no effect on the number of people who use radio.  In 2012, radio was used by 92.3% of all Americans each week.  This is the same percentage that used radio in 2002 in the days before the Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. According to “The Infinite Dial,” social media and other internet usage has not replace consumption at all. Instead, Americans have increased their time using all media from 7 hours per day in 2002 to 8 hours and 18 minutes in 2012.

Radio And The Internet Are Used Simultaneously

Radio seems to be uniquely qualified to drive consumers to specific internet destinations. According to The Radio Ad Lab, about 1/3 of radio listening occurs simultaneously with internet usage.  One study by The Internet Advertising Bureau indicates that 57 percent of those who listen to radio while online say they’ve “checked out things on the Internet after just hearing about them on the radio.”  And 67 percent said that “hearing things on the Radio will remind me to look up something when I’m using the Internet.”

Ry Russell’s success utilizing radio to quintuple the size of Saco Drive-in’s Facebook community aligns perfectly with the way consumers new media habits.  Watch the full interview with Ry:



Learn the 5 steps every small business owner needs to know to achieve success using social media in a free webinar.

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