In today’s busy broadcast world, people are often looking for the easy way out. A lot of radio’s efforts in social media fall flat because they try to use it for advertising or exclusively for contesting. You must ask yourself, “Where is the value in our social media for the listener or the “social media actives”? This week we look at contesting and give a few guidelines for you to think about when it comes to social media and contesting for radio. You might be doing some or all of these or they may be new to you or inspire a new and more productive direction for your social media.
1. Tip number one? Always (or almost always) focus on bringing social media actives back to your on-air or at least your website. If you are not doing this, you are focused on promoting Facebook, Twitter, or other channels you don’t own and that is WRONG. Dead wrong. Our business is one where higher listening, higher engagement, and higher advertising mean success. We don’t own Facebook and Twitter.
2. You simply must think about sharing FIRST when you are creating a promotional element for social media. You should be careful to insure your promotion does not look like spam, but sharing is essentially the most powerful dynamic in social media. To put this in proper perspective, you have to always think about all of your content in terms of why people will want to share it and how easy it is to share. Those should fall in the early order of your priorities. It simply cannot be said too much that content and creativity are critical when it comes to YOUR work (that’s what it is) on Facebook and Twitter.
3. As you may know, I do not recommend contesting to be the majority of your posts on a site like Facebook or on your Twitter account. Real engagement involves some depth and certainly some significant content value. That won’t come just from contesting. Your contesting should never be more than a very low percentage of your overall posts on any social media site. However, when you are engaging contesting, be consistent to follow up so that you have a consistent pattern of opportunity for listeners to engage your brand on-air. When you are contesting or highlighting contesting, you should plan content on at least both Facebook and Twitter along with your own database and any communication you utilize in groups.
4. Don’t forget to be a crafty community partner. When you are thinking about your community service or your commitment to the community, work in the planning stages to partner with the charities and organizations you help so that you have effective cross-promotion. Yes, you can do this with contesting. Be creative. Think about sharing. This may seem easy, but it all begins with choosing causes that are valuable to your listener target. If you do that, you will already be a winner. At the same time, gaining access to a commitment from them on their social media channels is critical (including frequency and content specifics). You can also form careful partnerships with bloggers and local writers to benefit all. Promotion is sometimes sweat equity and sometimes partnership. Use both so that you have a large “face” that represents your image. Just be careful who you choose to partner with and make sure you are both singing out of the same choir book.
5. Visuals, visuals, visuals. I preach this all the time. It does not matter what your content is about, there is a picture you can use to lure more engagement. The research is all over the Internet: People stop more often because of photos. The numbers are overwhelming.
In the end, you must understand the true value of social media. Social media is not an advertising tool (although you certainly can advertise on social media respectfully). Having a serious strategic plan for your social media is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Of the people who are unsure of the value of social media, most of that comes from a feeling that “it’s free.” Well, it is free if you don’t put the work in to make it successful. Nothing is free.
Still, social media engagement done with a plan that focuses on specific goals can be powerful for your radio station. As time goes by, you should be more engaged. Not less. If you don’t have a plan, stop what you are doing on social media platforms and develop a full plan and really map it out for your success. Then, determine who will execute the plan and make sure everyone understands the plan. This includes the contesting elements. Once you have a plan, the percentage of time you spend contesting will actually become more valuable (as will all of your content on social media). You’ll be glad you mapped it out because you will see consistent results from your work and will know you are not just “doing social media.” You’ll be “doing your plan.” That makes you the winner.
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*Content originally appeared @ radioink.com. Check out past columns under the column ENGAGEMENT on the left-hand side of the homepage.
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