For decades, radio stations have used promotional appearances by their street teams as ways to engage listeners. Unfortunately, the reality is that this is a largely inefficient way to reach the audience; the numbers just don't work.
However, social media can create new value for street team appearances — if radio stations are properly set up for them. This requires a fundamental shift in the way we think about street team appearances. We need to view them not just as an opportunity to engage with the listeners who are on site with us, but also as a way to generate compelling content that will engage listeners who will view that content on social media. In other words, we need a promo kit full of games that are not only for the people playing, but also for the people watching.
It's helpful to think of these games in the same way that we think of Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune — they're fun to watch even if we're not the contestants who are playing. Of course, instead of creating games for television, we're creating games that are enjoyable when consumed as photos or videos on Instagram and TikTok.
But what does that actually mean, and what do radio broadcasters need to think about as they create promo kits for the digital content age? Here are some factors to consider:
1. Make Your Games Visually Interesting
This might seem obvious, but whatever games your radio station staffers play with listener while on site at events need to be visually interesting — and in particular, it needs to be visually interesting when viewed on a small smartphone screen. This means that the on-site games and toys in your prize kit need to be large and colorful. That old prize wheel isn't going to cut it unless it's large and glitzy enough to be used on The Price is Right.
2. Create Games with Photos and Videos in Mind
When your street team is out and about, they'll want to capture both photos and videos for social media, so you'll want to include games that accomplish both in your kit. Keep in mind, it's ok to use one game that is used to produce photo content and another to produce video content — there's no reason why the same game has to both — as long as your street team staffers know which games work best for each type of content.
Photos work best when the audience viewing them can easily figure out what's going on by looking at a single still shot. For example, your station may want large cardboard cutouts of Olivia Rodrigo or Kendrick Lamar that they can photograph listeners standing next to. However, while these cutouts will make for good photos, they'll make for very boring videos, because the cutouts don't result in any action.
For video content, you could use a game that I used to have in my promo kits: Crotch Basketball. This involves an army/navy belt with a small plastic basketball hoop attached in the front. A stretchy cord is tied to the hoop on one end, and a small foam basketball on the other. A person straps on the belt and has to get the ball into the hoop by thrusting their hips. It's a fun game that results in ridiculous body movements which make for entertaining videos. However, this game doesn't produce good still photos.
As you create the games for your station's promo kit and train your staff to use them, consider photo and video content separately.
3. Keep Them Brief
When you create games to produce video content, remember that these videos should be short — between ten and sixty seconds, depending on the platform that you're going to use them on. These are not five-minute videos that will be posted to YouTube, but rather short clips that will appear on TikTok, Instagram Stories, or Instagram Reels. In addition to being short, they should be immediate; aim to capture the audience's attention in the first few seconds.
4. Succeed in Silence
People often have the sound turned off when they are scrolling through their social media feeds, so make sure that your videos make sense without any sound. If the video requires a verbal setup, it will capture the attention of fewer people. This doesn't mean that your videos should be silent, only that they can be silent and still be engaging.
5. Produce Different Combinations
Even the most visually appealing setup can get boring if is repeated over and over again. One video of a listener singing Bee Gees karaoke with a Dave Grohl impersonator is inspired. Fifty videos of listeners singing Bee Gees karaoke gets dull. Try to design the games in your promo kit so they result in different photos or videos each time. This might be because the game itself has the ability to change — imagine a giant Mr. Potato Head with swappable parts, for example — or because different listeners react differently to the game, producing varied content — think of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
6. Encourage Tagging and Hashtags
While you want your station's staff to take photos and videos on site at promotional appearances, you also want the listeners to take their own photos and videos and share them on social media. Encourage them to do through signage and on-site announcements, and remind them to tag the station or use specific hashtags so that it's easy to find these social media posts later.
Once you've built a promo kit with games and toys that enable your street team to capture compelling social media content, you'll need to train them how to use it properly. Make sure they know what the proper procedure is for not only taking the photos and videos, but also posting them. Remember, it's not enough just to have the right tools for the job; your team also needs to know how to use them.
Has your radio station developed games that generating compelling photos and videos? We'd love to see them! Email them to me and I'll share them in an upcoming blogpost.
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