How to “Second-Screen” for Radio

We’ve mentioned before how TV is starting to get better and better at their “second screen” experiences.  That’s when they are working their social networking skills during a new or special show of theirs.  Here’s what the CBS TV network is doing during sweeps week right now.

WHY HAVE TWO SCREENS?

If you’re not personally caught up in social media, you may not realize the fun, community feel you can get from watching a show on TV and experiencing it socially on Facebook or Twitter at the same time.  This might be something simple like just talking about it among your friends, or it might be experiencing something special and structured that the program provider has set up.  I’m a big fan of Survivor, and I record it and watch it a day or two later.  However, I’ve thought about watching it as it’s broadcast … commercials and all …  so I can experience it while reading host Jeff Probst’s real-time tweets at the same time.

Hell, yeah, we all make our living off advertising.  But is there something that has caused you to voluntarily watch a dozen minutes of commercials when you could skip them just as easily?

The implication for radio is that this is something that could help build repeated listening occasions, from our biggest fans who are the most open to spending more time with our brands.

HOW IT WORKS FOR RADIO

On the surface, this would seem to work best for a high-profile morning show, or a controversial talk show, or spoken work formats in general.  However, you have enough good stuff going (in your fans’ minds) for you to do it for a music-intensive format.  You just have to commit to being as transparent as possible with your biggest fans via Facebook or Twitter (or even Google+, if you want to try and drag a few folks over there).

The easiest way to explain it is not to so much tell you what to post in social media, as to give you the mindset.  Let’s say we’re doing this for a morning show.  Imagine you have a studio audience … a small-ish group of your biggest fans who want to see the show in person.  They’re not actually in the studio with you; they’re on Facebook or Twitter.  Put them to work!  For example, before a particular bit or benchmarked segment, you tell them, “OK, at 7:30, we’re going to ask for opinions on thus-and-such.  What do you think?  What would you say on the air?”

This is real fan-insider-type-stuff.  You’re not just promoting something at the general audience; you’re talking behind the scenes to fans with a bigger-than-average interst in your show.  Believe me, they’re out there.

For a music-intensive station, you would not have as much stuff to talk about in as short a period of time, but you could still do this … giving fans advance notice of when all the key elements on the station are happening.  If you play current music, you could start a discussion about some of the songs you play.  If you play all “library titles,” or older stuff, you can highlight “today in music history” stuff and talk about what these artists are doing now … or just probe for feedback about what real people are doing while they’re listening.  Remember to thank them for it, too.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

These have not been pretty days lately for the radio industry, with the number of owners shrinking even more and lots of people laid off all over the country.  This doesn’t change the fact that there are still plenty of brand fans out there who are open to using you more often, and will be motivated by a special invitation.  Be transparent about what you do with your biggest fans.  That alone will make you seem more contemporary and relevant.  Plus, the very practical benefit of giving big fans specific times to listen for special stuff should raise your average number of listening occasions.

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