Social Media Advice From Vic Mizzy

by Andrew Steeley on November 9, 2011


Kool 94.9One of the first radio stations I can remember ever listening to was the now-defunct Kool 94.9 in Harrisburg, PA.  I was probably six years old or so — right around the time I became aware that music could evoke a load of passion in me.  Kool was an oldies station that for years insisted on billing itself as “The New Kool 94.9.”  If it wasn’t ironic enough that an oldies station was calling itself “new,” the fact that it continued to do so for several years really drove the point home.  I’m pretty sure they finally stopped calling themselves “new” when they moved up the dial to 99.3 a few years later and then finally vanished after a format flip in 2002.

Every school day morning, the members of the Steeley household would bustle around while the Kool morning show with Tod & Nancy poured out from the kitchen radio.  For a few years, that was THE way to start the day.  It was usually a very family-friendly morning show, and certainly benefitted from a lack of boisterous, in-your-face personalities.  Each morning, Tod & Nancy would sing a rendition of what I had always thought (or hoped, I suppose) was a song that was written exclusively for Kool.  Swing and a miss, Steeley.  Apparently, “In The Middle, In The Middle, In The Middle” was originally written by Vic Mizzy in the 1960s as an anti-jaywalking anthem for New York City.  It goes a little something like this:

Don’t cross the street in the middle, in the middle, in the middle,
In the middle, in the middle of the block

Don’t cross the street in the middle, in the middle, in the middle,
In the middle, in the middle of the block

Use your eyes to look up

Use your ears to hear

Walk up to the corner when the coast is clear

And wait

And wait

Until you see the light turn green

Don’t cross the street in the middle, in the middle, in the middle,
In the middle, in the middle of the block

Tod and Nancy changed the lyrics up a bit for their own personal touch, but you get the idea.  If you need some melodic context, here’s a version performed by They Might Be Giants on Spotify:

They Might Be Giants – In The Middle, In The Middle, In The Middle – Sung By Robin Goldwasser

Yes, Kool played this tune as a safety reminder and to teach kids the importance of following pedestrian laws.  But I believe that this anthem can also apply to any radio brand’s social media endeavors.

1.  Social media is about timing.  When you’re first starting out in social media, it’s tempting to jump into every conversation that’s going on around you.  It’s a quick and easy way to gain recognition, after all.  But would you act this way in any other social setting…say, a party?  Both online and offline, it’s wise to survey the situation and take the proverbial temperature of the room.  Avoid rudely interrupting a healthy conversation that’s already in full swing.  Remember, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.  Abruptly jumping out into traffic is not a safe way to cross the street.  Think of ongoing conversations as the “traffic” of the social media road.

2.  Social media is about patience.  And wait…and wait.  Often, it will take a while before you finally find an entry point into a conversation.  Don’t lose sight of the #1 rule of social media:  LISTEN.  Instead of approaching the passing time as time that you aren’t talking about yourself, look at it as an opportunity to learn about others.  You’ll get your turn to speak eventually.  The light won’t always turn green right away.  In fact, it rarely ever does.  Same goes for our online relationships in general.  It takes a great deal of patience to cultivate relationships among our community members.  Results won’t happen overnight, but organic results will be stronger and longer lasting.

3.  Social media is about using your senses.  When I studied television production in college, one of my professors instilled in us what he called “TV production sense.”  That is, an awareness and a gut feeling for what works within the framework and context of television.  In social media, you often have to develop a “social media sense,” an awareness and a trust in your gut instinct to know when to enter certain conversations (and when not to).  That development comes from observing your surroundings, listening, and understanding the core functions of the tools at your disposal.  To be truly successful in your station’s social media endeavors, it is critical to be cognizant of what others are saying about your brand, your competition, and your industry at large at all times.  Mind your surroundings.  Teach your eyes to look up.  Teach your ears to hear.

What other social media lessons can be learned from “In The Middle, In The Middle, In The Middle?”  Do you heed this advice when communicating via social media platforms?  

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