In doing social media, you probably think often about contesting elements, morning-show features, personalities (on your air and stars of the format), gossip, and pulling the fun out of your radio station, your format, and your target audience to put “lifestyle” into your social media. You are likely to have a serious, overall strategic plan to engage local audience and draw them back to your radio station, your website, and your advertisers (because we are in that business). I’m sure you work with your team to be very visual and your constant focus in social media is using visuals and rich format-related content that moves listeners. But when is the last time you spent a little extra time thinking about what is missing locally. Who is not being highlighted? What cause fits your audience, your radio station, and yet isn’t getting the attention it deserves in your market?
When you think about going through a major recession and trying to rebuild, do you think about what has been happening to charities, museums, and other community features that we as “local citizens” care about (your market)?
Spend some time at the management level looking more deeply at your hyper-local market. Try to see the world as it really is instead of as we tend to “gloss it over.” Think about this: Most media companies do a lot to make things generic to make “covering things” easy and less expensive. However, that has a tendency to leave some things on autopilot. If you want an extra edge for your local radio brand, you’ll spend this little extra time looking for what could create galvanizing passion that can propel your brand locally by using your social media power to bring people together for something that is important to your community.
How can you begin this process?
1. Ask questions of leaders in the business community. Ask them about the needs they see in the community. If you do this, make sure you are doing this at the manager’s level and that your market manager is very aware and on-board. Handled correctly, talking with business leaders in your market makes you look like what you are: A responsive, tuned-in local media outlet that cares about the local community (and businesses like theirs).
2. Float the question to find out what important causes the media is not focusing on in your own market. Be authentic, honest, and straightforward about what you are looking to do. You are seeking ideas on how you can engage important local causes that may not be getting the attention they deserve in the community. Everyone understands that sometimes important community values drift out of the center lane in the busy hustle of everyday life. You never know how many people will step up with suggestions or the ultimate positive impact that can only come from asking the right questions. You might find the fuse to light your brand fire by getting behind something beloved but adrift in your community. The kinds of people that make things happen in your market are likely to be the same ones that line up behind your brand if you question, discover, and champion something of value to the community that has lost the public’s attention.
3. Ask for suggestions on your morning show and give listeners a place to react on your website, Facebook page, and Twitter. If you really want to highlight what is happening or not happening in your quest to find the perfect cause to get behind locally, light it up. Ask listeners to engage you by calling with suggestions, by emailing you, and posting suggestions on your Facebook page and in other social media. Send it out as a part of your local-listener email club. Make sure people know you care and you are looking to discover and passionately engage value not being highlighted in the local market and a cause where your brand can potentially make a big difference.
4. Identify someone on your team as the point person once you’ve identified the charity or cause. This is critical because it gives listeners a place to focus and gives your brand what I call a “personal sticky entry point.” People really identify with people and think other people care more than businesses. If a real person cares about this and is championing it at your local radio station, this must be for real.
5. Make this a “percentage part” of your overall strategic plan for social media. In other words, this isn’t “one and you’re done.” Plot out posts and engagement opportunities and strategies for your social media by percentage of content for this. Let your personality lead and make it a visible part of your social media, online and public values.
There are a lot of things you can do in social media, but being local is the biggest opportunity of all. No one is better at connecting with locals and getting them to be active than local radio. You can use this strength against your competitors to build serious and dynamic local advantage. However, you must be authentic and consistent, and you must have a well-defined strategic plan that will mean you provide important and passionate connection to the things that are valuable to listeners in your local market.
Technology changes, people don’t. 2014 is a great time to rotate around on top of social media and see it as an extension of your actual local radio brands. The more you focus on listeners, their lives, and things that are important to them, the more powerful you will become and the more valuable your local brand becomes in your market to audience and advertisers alike.
*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.”
Go to http://www.Facebook.com/socialnetworking4radio and then click “LIKE” to begin receiving free social media/Facebook content on radio and social media. Go to the right-hand top of http://www.rainmakerpathway.wordpress.com to sign up to get this actual social media – radio content sent directly to your smart phone or email about once a week. Check out past content @ http://www.rainmakerpathway.com and take time to enjoy your life. It’s just radio. I love it, but a job will never love you back. Invest in people.
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. Don’t just read. Get engaged in the process. Contact him directly @ 877.475.6864 or Americalist1@aol.com.