Overcoming Cupcake Listening

Back in January, I wrote a column called “Cupcake Listening,” which pointed out that for lots of people, radio is like a cupcake.  You can thoroughly enjoy it and think it’s a treat, but then you may go a long time before picking up another one … even though it was a completely satisfying pastry experience!

A lot of people listen to radio every week.  As an industry, we could use them to come back more often.  As a brand, are you doing what you could to get more listening occasions?  Often, we leave it up to chance, assuming that people will listen more if we make ourselves more entertaining.  I don’t think that link has ever been proved to exist.  Plus, when we have something special happening on our own air, we often do a luke-warm effort to get people back.  We don’t think about marketing basics, and assume that our listeners are paying far more attention than they truly are.

Social media can be a way to share content, but it can also be a way to market ourselves.  You probably already know I’ve shared with you that our biggest fans are the ones who “Like” us on Facebook, and that people who follow brands on social media consider what those brands say about themselves when making a buying decision.

So, here are some radio stations who worked to overcome “cupcake listening” by working to create listening occasions on Facebook.


CBS’s 93.1 Jack FM in Los Angeles is running a cash contest.  To win, you have to listen at certain times.  Look!  They’re telling their biggest fans ALL the times to listen on this particular day!

They also linked to a web page that explains the contest.  They didn’t waste any words at all, making sure that if you see this post … what you see are times to call and a helpful link to follow.  That’s all you need.  Elegant … and effective.


Cox Media Group’s 97.1 The River in Atlanta posted this to get folks to their regular 5:20 ticket giveaway.  Even though their Ticket Vault is a pretty mature feature, I like that English Nick didn’t take it for granted, and told his fans about it.  This post is chattier and less laser-focused than the Jack FM post from LA, above … but it still gets the job done.


CBS’s 100.7 WZLX in Boston posted the above, which is similar to the two other posts we’ve shown you today.  They’re informing their fans about when they can win $1,000.  What’s really surprising is that posts like these are the rare exceptions in a sea of unfocused radio social media.

In fact, I can just about assure you that if all you’re doing with your social media is posting content that you think your audience might have some interest in … but doesn’t create any interaction with your brand on the air, online or on site at promotions and events … you are spending some of your time spinning your wheels.  You can’t monetize Facebook and Twitter yet.  You can collect some of your heaviest listeners there, and get more listening and engagement from them that can help you in ways you can measure and monetize.


One comment

  1. Greg

    Is transforming a “Cupcake” listening audience to a “Trained Dolphin” audience that much better? They come for the “loathes and fishes” but not for the content? I guess that overtime, the listening public could be conditioned like a group of Pavlovian dogs to salivate at regular intervals when the incentive is removed.

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