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Ivan Braiker

The Innovative GMWhy "The Tribe" Should Heart Digital

By Ivan Braiker

"It starts with permission, the understanding that the real asset most organizations can build isn't an amorphous brand but is in fact the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about. Tribe Management, Seth Godins Blog, January 2008

Radio was the first modern medium that could be defined as a "tribe."

Our industry has always been about engaging the listener and building a bonda loyalty that says "Im listening to my station." Radio was the first medium to truly personalize the relationship with its audiencein a way that newspapers or later, television, could never do. What started with live barn dances became bumper stickers and continues today with mobile loyalty clubs and branded iPhones applications. The ratings show that people want their radioand will pay attention, in a big way, when its extended to the digital realm.

In many ways, its been a banner week for radio. Two pieces of news in particular caught my eyeone with a look back, and one with a look to the future.

#1) Since the dawn of commercial broadcasts, ratings provide an important foundation for the business of radio. The September Arbitron numbers are in, and they look good ("Radio Listening on the Rise Again") "radio added more listeners versus the September 2010 report, with an additional 1.7 million listeners aged 12 and older tuning in on a average week," according to the RADAR 110 National Radio Listening Report.

#2) And just this past weekend, the IHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegasthe modern equivalent of the WLS National Barn Dance, perhaps?was a stunning testament to the power of radio and its relevance in the digital age. Here was a high-profile event that combined live music, broadcast coverage and online/mobile streaming.

Digital is critical for radio to re-establish this personal connection. Were not monolithic brandswere tribes. Lets give the tribe members what they want and digital will make that happen.

You dont need a weekend-long, star-studded destination festival (although sure, it probably helps). There are more opportunities than just live streaming digital can be everything from mobile listener clubs to branded applications to online location-based scavenger hunts tied into live removes. The rules are still being written: start small and get biggerand yes, tie it into sales to make some money in the meantime.

If youre ready to dip your toe into the digital pool, its good to know what you dont know. Make sure you have a specialist on your team that understands what digital is all about and can connect the dots between audience retention and sales opportunities. In all its forms, digital is about engagement in our case, taking the connection we created long ago and re-inventing it for an always-connected tribe.

Ivan Braiker is a former radio CEO who still loves the radio business. He's now the CEO of HipCricket and can be reached at

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