8 Steps To Higher Listener Participation And More Money
April 16, 2012
Great content is the key to success in our business. Unfortunately, in many markets, the business of radio has been reduced to paint-by-numbers corporate measures to extract dollars from the local market with little choice, chance, or opportunity for elevating content. There's little question as to how this is causing radio's relationship with listeners to dissipate. However, happenings on the digital-evolution side of our business can change that, if the right content-seeds are planted. This content can expose and engage listeners for your brand.
Here are eight steps you can take to create an engaging brand on social media which leads listeners to higher participation levels, and helps your team to increase revenue generation.
1/ Focus on having a specific content plan so that you know what content your team will be putting on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms each day, week, and month of the year, as well as who will be doing it. Having a plan in advance, which includes the right mix of messages, visual content, audio, and written word, will give life to your presence on these social media sites. Done correctly, it will also grow your on-air brand over time.
2/ Truly engage your listeners. When someone comments on your station page, follow up with them in public, and also by emailing them personally. It's easy in today's Facebook world. Not engaging and embracing listeners is the path to death for radio in the coming months and years. Engaging them and responding to them will help strengthen your position and influence in the market. And other listeners will see that you are authentic and care about listeners and what's important to them. That has long-term value. And that's money for broadcasters.
3/ Content should be free. Radio has understood this from the beginning, but it seems that too often we filter our content through "what's in it for us," instead of considering how our targeted listener will see what we offer as easy, free, fun, and useful – like Facebook has done so well over the past five-plus years. It's not free if your content is actually just an ad for your product, or a product belonging to a sponsor. Be creative and offer messages that contain value for the listener, and you will grow, both on these platforms and on-air.
4/ Consider subscription-based models for growing participation on your website and on-air-talent blogs. What? Your talent isn't blogging? Why not? Are we not evangelists for our brands, formats, and listeners' lifestyles? If you allow people to subscribe, and offer consistent content that is relevant and important to them, you will grow participation, and that will give rise to familiarity, which will in turn lead to growth of your station's audience. You can actually offer listeners exclusive content (such as videos of backstage or private events with artists, if you are in a format that allows such things) if they sign up for your content. All formats have some exclusive content you can cultivate for subscription purposes. It's attractive to the end-user, and carries a price they can easily afford – free. Building audiences this way will also lead to other opportunities, in terms of leading them back to on-air and developing revenue models to expose clients – lightly and within philosophy – to the subscription base when it is large enough to "rent" (again, within the overall social media philosophy you are cultivating; not spam emails). Subscription models give you cold, hard value to showcase for advertisers and marketers. That's money to broadcasters.
5/ You must be prepared to "build it first." Then, you monetize it. Unfortunately, many broadcasters have looked at social media too simplistically: just drop in promos and everything will work out. It's not quite that easy. You must build real value before you monetize. If you commit yourself and your team to growing the value in a subscription or participation model, it will attract people who want to utilize it. Again, that's money for broadcasters.
6/ Reinvent your loyal listener database based upon value for the listener. Most loyal listener databases are filled with half-baked info on an audience we don't actually know. In many markets, and with too many stations, no attention has really been paid to developing and "cleaning" a database of people who are active and passionate about what you offer as a brand. More than this, most radio stations are not committed to building a loyal listener database by offering exclusive content and genuine insider opportunities that show the station values them as listeners. They just "have" a loyal listener database. Ho hum. As a result, no passionate participation comes from listeners who are truly engaged in your product. If that's how it is at your station, you can reinvent your loyal listener database by creating exciting offers (not ads) that excite listeners. Get with your staff and create serious attention-getting opportunities that offer them content they can't find anywhere else. That's money for broadcasters.
7/ Get busy thinking about how to make your content as visible as possible on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. We humans are visual creatures, so use visuals, along with other content, that entices potential new listeners to sample your on-air product. Be creative. Don't simply offer visual commercials for your station. Driving participation through visuals works in social media spaces. And that participation will mean revenue down the line.
8/ Figure out the five most important things to your listeners. Radio stations used to do this all the time. If you have an adult format, it'll be health, education, money, etc. These things should be top-flight content generators for you in social media. Decide what's important to your listeners and design your social media content around them. This will lead them to have a relationship with your personalities and brand, which also means more money for your company in the future.
As an industry, we need to constantly think about the future. Otherwise, revenues will head south and so will the value relationships we have with listeners in local markets. Using these eight steps will allow you to build ongoing value. So build it today for tomorrow's advertisers and promoters.
Loyd Ford is the direct marketing, ratings, and social media strategist for Americalist. He has programmed successful radio brands in markets of all sizes, including KRMD-AM and FM in Shreveport, WSSL and WMYI in Greenville, WKKT in Charlotte, and WBEE in Rochester, NY. Learn more about Loyd here: http://about.me/loydford. Reach out to Loyd via e-mail HERE Visit his Facebook radio-social media page HERE
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