Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network and is best known by her online persona, Grammar Girl. She was also previously the chair of media entrepreneurship at the Reynolds School of Journalism and has taught graduate-level audience engagement courses. “Grammar Girl” is a phenomenally successful podcast – and we're thrilled to have her participate at our Podcast Movement track, “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” later this month. More on that at the end of this post.
Through her podcasting career, Mignon has racked up more than two million social media followers. She's the perfect person to advise broadcasters on how they can successfully build an audience – beyond the airwaves. Take good notes, and you'd better believe, it's grammatically correct. –Seth Resler
When people think of you, what comes to mind? The image should be the same no matter where they see you. That’s a brand. If your brand is “policy wonk,” be a policy wonk on air and in all the ways you engage with your audience. If your brand is “kooky,” be kooky on air and everywhere else.
Here are five ways to make sure your audience thinks of you even when they’re away from the radio.
1. Let the Audience See Your Face
The pressure is on to produce video. As more personalities get their start on YouTube, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat, fans are trained to expect to see your face and hear about your life. It can be intimidating to get started, but it really is as easy as pointing your phone’s camera at your face and talking. Snapchat is an excellent place to start and practice because your audience there is likely to be small (it’s nearly impossible to find people without knowing their account name or icon) and the videos disappear after 24 hours. Although people can take screenshots, it’s vastly more difficult to go viral on Snapchat than on YouTube, and it’s also easy to turn off comments and messaging so you don’t have to worry about harassment.
Let your audience get to know you—a little or a lot. Show your followers how you set up at work. Make short videos with your guests. Play with funny filters. Answer listener questions. Expound on the news. Many people also show simple parts of their day such as getting coffee, working out, or playing with a pet. It helps to have some consistency so followers know what to expect.
2. Engage Your Audience on Social Media
Odds are good that a lot of your audience is on Twitter or Instagram. Even if you decide not to make videos, you can easily connect with your audience on social media with pictures or text posts. You can also create a hashtag that is as unique as possible but also portable if you change jobs (such as #MyNameOnAir rather than #AndyWKRP) and encourage your listeners to use that hashtag to reach you. For example, ask people what their favorite high school dance song was and then encourage them to answer on social media using the hashtag, or ask them to tag you on their birthday for a shout-out. When you read the answers or send good wishes on air, it will encourage more people to reply next time and will build your brand.
3. Meet Your Audience in Person
Broadcasting from the field is nothing new, but you can hardly tune in to a podcast these days without hearing about an upcoming live show or event, and Gannett’s USA Today Network has found success with its Storytellers events. The audience seems interested in seeing the people behind their favorite voices and publications—and rubbing elbows (or sharing cocktails). Planning a live show can be time-consuming, but nothing is stopping you from holding an informal meet-up or trivia night at your favorite bookstore or bar to see if a bigger show might make sense.
4. Write for Your Audience
Start a regular blog or newsletter to put your ideas, events, and jokes in a format that’s easy for your audience to share. It doesn’t have to be intimidating. Although a weekly publishing schedule is good, if every other week or monthly is all you can handle, it’s better to start than wait. Medium, LinkedIn, and Tumblr are just a few of the free places you can start blogging immediately, and if you or your station want to host the posts on a website too, all the better. If you’re just looking for exposure, it’s fine to publish the same post in multiple places.
5. Tell Your Big Story
From Bill O’Reilly to teenage YouTubers, everyone is writing books. If you have a big story to tell or knowledge to share, a book is a great way to do it. If you enjoy writing, e-books are quick and easy, but people also like to hold a physical product. Writing a book will take a lot more time and effort than making Instagram videos or hosting a few live events, but a print book is something you can sign and something your biggest fans will see as a keepsake or collectible much like a concert T-shirt or a player’s jersey. A book signing is a great thing to combine with meeting your audience in person too.
In fact, most of these methods work well together. You can use your newsletter to promote your social media or you can make quick videos with listeners at your live events. If it seems overwhelming, pick one idea that sounds like the most fun, and just give it a try. As you watch your brand and audience grow, you’ll be glad you did.
On Thursday, August 24th, Jacobs Media will host a full day of sessions, panels, and keynotes designed for radio broadcasters at the Podcast Movement conference. Mignon will be a member of our 2pm session, “Podcast Makeover: An Aircheck Session with Broadcasting Pros.” We hope you can join us in Anaheim for the conference.
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