Is really connecting with local listeners a myth in 2013 or can you really focus your efforts and pull in the “big haul” of real connection, more listeners, and active cheerleading for your show and your on-air brand with the listeners that are most valuable to your company?
Here are seven important ways you can increase the opportunity for real connection that moves the needle of growing closer to listeners in social media and making it count for the radio station.
1. Be authentic and stand for something. If you really want to connect with people in the real (local) world, focus on being authentic first on-air and in social media. Make your connection via something that bonds you to your audience. Choose a cause that is important. Do something for your community that matters to your target. The fastest way to mess that critical connection up is to be fake or be so generic that no one can tell you are even a real person. The quickest way to set yourself apart from your competitors is to zero-in on what is really important to passionate locals and put yourself out there.
2. Get rid of “all about self.” It’s easy to be all about “you.” The world is full of these people. Eliminate the word “I” in your posts and comments and focus on the life of the listener, the interests of the listener, and connecting to them in the most emotional or useful way you can (or both).
3. Validate your friends (listeners). Especially today, people want and crave validation and most people don’t get it regularly. Life moves too fast. Take a second and roll over to their Facebook page when someone comments on your station page. Go comment on their interests in a way that is public and their friends can see on their page. This says, “I am close, I see you and I am willing to step out there.” It also says, “Hello.” Most radio stations and on-air personalities are missing this in social media. If you really want to connect with local listeners, connect with them regularly on “their ground.” It will change things if you do it regularly. Test it yourself.
4. Realize that social media environments are like real life and real friendships. They only become real if you are willing to step up and help your friends. Be there for them by paying attention to them and not just requesting they do “stuff” for you. Reaching out to solve problems, giving tips on topics of interest to the local listeners you most want to attract is more powerful than you realize. Like the Beatle said decades ago: “The love you take is equal to the love you make.” Love your listeners and make it authentic.
5. Ask for advice and thoughts on significant issues on your radio station or show and reward engagement. The big companies want to know what is happening with their customers. A lot of radio has pulled back from this kind of engagement, but knowing your audience means putting yourself out there and allowing listeners to give you feedback and then following up on the advice if it is good. This says, “We are connected.” And, yes, you should say, “Thank you” to listeners who step up and critique you as well as those who praise you.
6. Try to even make posts about national content relate to your local market and tie it directly to local listeners’ lives if you can do so regularly. Frequently lead them back to the station website, your blog, or on-air with the promise of more valuable content. Don’t make it simply another post about listening to you. Everyone wants to be listened to today. Be unique and offer something that listeners don’t usually get from radio. Play with their passions.
7. Don’t game listeners into playing contests or string people along without giving them “the baby” (or content they desire). A big part of connecting is showing consistently that you deliver on what local listeners expect on-air and in social media. If you don’t know what your target listeners are interested in, spend time to find out. Don’t wait on the program director or someone else. You do it. Consistently deliver this content and you will find a growing appreciation for your influence in local listener circles. Word will spread. That can translate to powerful social media connectivity that really counts.
When it comes to connecting with a growing number of people in social media, why not start with these simple guidelines and make the most of your social media? Authentic connection comes from changing your focus from radio-focused to truly being listener-world focused.
Make it about more than the words and really work hard to engage them instead of inserting the radio station into their lives and you are likely to find more true engagement. That will increase closeness and connectivity because it is both.
*Content originally appeared @ RadioInk.com. For more content on radio, go to RadioInk.com. Look for my column on social media and radio on the left-hand side of the homepage behind my picture and the word “Engagement.”
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Loyd Ford is the Direct Marketing, Ratings & Social Media Strategist for Americalist Direct Marketing. He works with media brands all across the country to improve ratings and participation with custom contest strategy, telemarketing, strategic direct mail and social media for radio clients. His interests include social media, digital local-direct revenue and non-traditional revenue for radio. And, yes, he believes you should be receiving more share of digital revenue in your local radio market along with higher ratings. Contact him directly @ 877.475.6864 or Americalist1@aol.com.