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(SOCIAL) Is The Station Website Going Extinct?


There is great debate as to what killed off the dinosaurs. (Stay with me). Was it a giant asteroid, climate change, acid rain, disease? I wonder if we'll be having  the same debate a few years from now about radio station websites. Was it Facebook, Twitter, SMS, or a combination of them all?

The Web landscape has changed quite a bit since September 26, 2006, when Facebook opened its doors to the general public. Today, many stations are  bypassing their websites entirely and sending listeners directly to Facebook and Twitter. Even if you do send listeners to your website, chances are your website  pushes them on to Facebook. The average user spends more than 55 minutes every day on Facebook, a site strategically designed to keep visitors as long as  possible. It's almost a guarantee, once listeners leave your site for Facebook, they are not coming back. Why does Facebook want your listeners so much?  Advertising. Remember, that thing you used to care about on your site?

Why is your website important? If you look at your competition today, it's no longer just the station across town. It's Spotify, Pandora, Slacker, or other services that are causing the disintermediation of music discovery (and even news) from radio and making music consumption much more interactive. What are we doing to keep radio interactive? Sure, we have the request line, but our listeners no longer use their phones to make calls. They are Tweeting, texting, and using apps instead.

We need our websites to save radio from new threats that are offering something that radio has lost -- interactivity. Bringing Facebook and Twitter content back  to your website and mobile app is one way to re-establish that interactivity with listeners. Here are a few effective ways to do this:

* Use social media to get the word out about contests and events, but keep all your content on your website. Newspapers have done a good job of this. They post teaser copy on Facebook, but for the full article, they link back to their website, where their branding and advertisers are. You can do something similar by adding a social media activity feed to your website. Your listeners can authenticate through Facebook or other social media and still communicate with your talent and each other through your website. This is more than simply adding Facebook and Twitter widgets to your site; a better option is to use a dedicated app that combines all social media channels into one activity stream on your website.

* Take advantage of crowdsourcing by allowing your listeners to vote on what song to play next. Again, use Twitter or other social media to get the word out about music choices, but link back to your website for actual voting. We used to spend days at a time polling people in the community or setting up focus groups to give us feedback on what music they liked. Now you can get hundreds of responses with a simple Tweet, and you can feed that data to your automation system for program scheduling that really matters to listeners.

* Get more aggressive about advertising on your website. Better yet, if you can, offer ad insertions on your social media feed (on your website), something you can't do with your Facebook or Twitter page. All advertising there benefits the social media platform, not your station. As broadcasters, we have to ask ourselves, why are we sending listeners to Facebook's party rather than hosting our own?

The website (and mobile app) can be much more than a place to see pictures of jocks and an outdated list of concerts. Combined with social media, it can be the social hub where listeners go to interact with your station.

Jim Roberts is a Senior Product Manager for Commotion, a new Broadcast Electronics (BE) company specializing in social media and audience interactivity tools for radio. He has worked in front of and behind the mic as a top rated air talent, operations manager, and award winning copywriter for radio. He has both a technical and promotional background and regularly consults large radio groups on new media applications and social strategies.

(8/20/2012 4:37:16 PM)
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(2/29/2012 2:44:59 PM)

I believe you are spot on in your observations. Unfortunately, I fear your words of wisdom will fall upon deaf ears: Most broadcasters have done a poor job of embracing the Internet and they seem afraid of it.

And most industry execs don't have the out-of-the-box thinking skills required to leverage the 'Net to their advantage. So they either complain about it or ignore it and hope it goes away.

The recent story here on WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC is a must read for all broadcasters.

- Tim Britt

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