Listeners vs. Your In-Box … You Decide

Are you letting your in-box control your digital strategy?

Maybe you’re like a lot of radio folks I talk to these days, who feel distracted and unfocused by what they’re doing online.  They’re working on getting more and more stuff up on their websites, and working hard to be buddy-buddy with their fans on Facebook and Twitter.  They’re feeling the pressure to give significant emphasis to all the different stuff the brand is involved with.  They’re even keeping an eye on what the other stations in their cluster are doing, so they don’t get left behind.

Start thinking of me as your new best friend!  Because you don’t have to work quite so hard.

However … you do have to start to take some control.

See, to be a good digital brand manager, it’s not enough to see how your product stacks up against a radio competitor.  Or other established media brands.  Or new internet media brands, for that matter.

You have to see what part you play in peoples’ lives.  That’s where the opportunity is.  This should not be particularly daunting; you already have a gut-level feel for this.

Would you ever … on the air … cut out a song to talk about all the fun promotions you’re doing?  Or, take out your imaging sweepers so you can talk about something funny you saw online?

Of course not.  It’s because our brand is at stake.  People come to us because they remember that we’re their country station … or their classic hits station … or their “today’s best music” station.  They have memories of how you entertained them in the past, and they want more of that now.  That’s how all brands work.  People have expectations or memories of a certain sort, and you either satisfy them, or leave them wanting … based on their expectations as much as on your performance.

The remember you because you make a difference in people’s lives.  Here’s how:  you change how they feel.  You’re a pretty powerful drug.

So your digital strategy is very simple in its conception … and focused, hard work in the execution.  What about you, on the air, changes how they feel?  What about you improves their day?  That’s what you want to bring to your website, your stream, and your social media.

However, I’ll bet that if you look at the front page of your website … or your latest social media posts … it’ll be clear that listener expectations weren’t driving whatever you decided to do.  You had in-box expectations that you listened to.

You’re gonna have those.  And you have to deal with them.   But you have to keep them in check.  You have to drive the digital bus on behalf of your fans, and figure out a way to deal with the in-box expectations.

We do that successfully on the air.  We have a time for advertising, we have a time for promotions, and we have a big time for music.  If you’re a music station, here’s what your listeners … online … are expecting to find:

  • A super-easy-to-find, comprehensive list of what you played.
  • They’re expecting to easily find and hear your online stream.
  • They’d like to be able to look up what your morning show (or any other personality shows) talked about.
  • They’d like a list of fun things that people like them might want to do in town.
  • If you’re a current-based format, they want info about new releases.

Also, they want deep, focused content about the sorts of stuff that you do on the radio.  That means … if you’re giving away tickets to see Keith Urban … it’d be cool to have an extra way to win online, and maybe a free download or two, and a sample video of this concert tour, and maybe a special link in advance of tickets going on sale to buy them first.  That sort of thing.

They’re not against the idea of seeing a funny YouTube video you found, or a way to send in a photo of their pet, or a way to buy a special golf pass.  Those things just don’t have anything to do with their expectations of your brand.  If you lean on content like that, you may get webhits.  You won’t get brand recognition.

Keep in perspective the things that your in-box expectations drive you to put up on the website.  You’ll be more successful when you appeal to your hardcore fans, instead.  At the end of the day, you may have busted your hump creating lots of website content and social media posts that don’t have anything to do with your brand.  In that case, go home and relax, and vow to be more of a brand manager tomorrow.

Here’s how:  Don’t not post in-box content on the website.  Just make sure you lead the charge in the promotion meeting to talk about the stuff that the listeners want, which will up your website numbers.  Plus, remember to take old stuff down when you put new stuff up.

Click my name to the right to contact me about this, or any other question about all your new digital tools …

Chris Miller


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