by Michelle Lentz

Cincinnati has a surprisingly huge social media community. Maybe not surprising. I suspect, due to P&G, we have more marketing agencies per square mile than anyone but Madison Avenue, and a lot of them are embracing social media. Today was our 5th social media breakfast, which sold out in under an hour, and it featured Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora. You can view our Twitter stream and see Tim’s 55 minute presentation on UStream

Pandora is that amazing internet radio project you have on your iPhone and quite probably on your computer. As you might know, they’ve recently added ads to their stream. The ads are extremely targeted and you can get rid of them for $3/month.

Their new advertising stream is very very targeted. If they wanted to, they could target 35-year old women in Cincinnati who enjoy Weezer (i.e., me). They are thinking about branching out with this. For instance, would you like to opt-in to an email that tells you your favorite band is playing at your local club? Taking that one step further, what if it also told you that a band you might like is coming to a club near you? Pandora does have the recommendation thing down, although they see themselves as a radio product, not a recommendation engine.

I was also intrigued to hear about their fight with the government over radio fees. Remember the big uproar back in early August? Tim had told The Washington Post that Pandora had a real possiblity of shutting their doors for good as the government had raised the fees on Internet Radio. Well, apparently enough of you got upset and wrote your congressmen. In fact, email accounts and faxes on Capitol Hill were jammed enough that it made a difference. Pandora, and other internet radio stations, are currently wrapping up a second round of talks with Congress. Grassroots worked.

Here’s a few more tidbits I learned today:
- Pandora was the most downloaded iPhone application of 2008. (Okay, I knew this, but thought I’d re-share it.)

- When they launched the web site in November 2005, they rather quickly ramped up to 50-60K new users per day.

- They’ve done virtually no marketing, but have grown by leaps and bounds. In fact, they grew by word of mouth, using occasional Google AdWords. Tim has also traveled in the last 2 years, conducting over 200 town halls across the nation. One of his first, in NYC, attracted 2 people, and a recent (albeit canceled) one in NYC attracted over 1000.

- Of the 600,000 indexed songs, 85% are played every day.

- They see every communication (email, tweet, etc) with a listener as an opportunity, not a cost. In fact, they respond to all communications with their listeners.

- Pandora is going to be everywhere. For example, Ford is integrating Pandora into their cars via SYNC.

My friend Krista Neher was there, brilliantly snapping photo after photo. So as Brian would say, I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story. View Krista’s entire SMB5 Photostream on Flickr.

SMB Founder Bryan Person and our local SMB impressario Kevin Dugan

The early morning crowd at LPK for Cincy Social Media Breakfast #5

Tim Westergren

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora

Our Social Media Breakfast was sponsored by Lucrum and LPK.


Contact Michelle with news, stories, events, and more.
Email: michelle[at]writetech[dot]net
Twitter: @writetechnology
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