As media and social options proliferate, it is becoming clearer over time that emotional connections for consumers are a difference-maker. Whether we're talking about social media sites, streaming video channels, or radio stations, the ability for users to express themselves or be emotionally moved by the content sets brands apart.
Facebook is discovering that in their struggles to provide more richness to their “like” button. That may seem trivial until you consider that up to now, the only bona fide way of responding to a status update has been to leave a comment or to simply click on “like.”
But the “like” button has limitations, and at times, feels even awkward. That's because when something meaningful happens – a friend’s dog dies, an industry associate is in the hospital, a relative has lost their job, or your college sorority sister got engaged – the “like” button just doesn’t get it done, forcing you to leave a comment or maybe even ignoring the event altogether.
Until now. Facebook has conducted extensive research, searching out the one-word reactions their users type in to amplify on a “like” or in comments. In the process, they saw an awful lot of “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” “angry,” and other simple expressions that frame more complicated emotional responses.
The Verve reports that Facebook also tracked sticker comments (essentially emojis) that people use to add pictures to Facebook Messenger responses.
As a result of this research, they came up with the following ways to amplify a “like” response, and now they’re testing them in both Ireland and Spain:
You can see these emotional buttons provide more range, flair, and color to a “like,” giving their audience with a wider choice of emotions. Notably, they toyed with the idea of a “dislike” button instead, but that has been apparently been ruled out because it is negative, and that’s not the environment they wish to foster on their channel.
So what can radio learn about the machinations of an expanded emotional rainbow of responses on Facebook?
Facebook's moves tell us three important things about how to ensure your brands stays relevant and alive:
- First, it is paramount to embed emotional reactions into the content
- Second, it is about conducting research to determine the best ways for users to express themselves
- Third, it's important to pretest these changes to ensure they're as effective as possible
- And fourth, it is critically important to implement these new innovations to keep the product fresh
Let's start with the essential need for consumers to emote via a brand. We tapped into this same finding several years ago in our Techsurveys in an extensive question that got at the underpinnings of radio’s appeal. Looking at our mega-samples, we learned that while favorite music and DJs/personalities are the main drivers that motivate radio listenership, emotional connections play a major role for most AM/FM radio listeners.
Yet, many broadcasters miss the emotional boat in their on-air breaks, positioning and production, as well as their social media activities. The need to add that emotional ingredient is why Slacker has taken the human approach, and Apple’s Beats 1 features DJs. It’s hard not to conclude that the people equation in media consumption is key because it often goes to the heart of an emotional exchange between a brand and its users. Podcasting is about people and emotion. So is the habitual listening that occurs during commute times, and other activities when radio solidly connects with its audience in a genuine way.
While it varies by station, format, and market, it’s not hard to identify your brand’s emotional connection points. Our research indicates that if radio were to adopt icons similar to Facebook’s, some of the key ones might look like this:
We know that companionship plays a key role in why consumers turn on the radio. That long commute to and from work, a voice at night as weary people wind down from their days, and a radio friend starting their morning with you are all part of this. Providing personal entertainment and information are all part of what defines what we measure as “keeps me company,” one of the key drivers in our “Why radio?” data.
Then there’s humor, which always shows up strongly in research, especially for music stations that feature personality or morning shows. Making the audience laugh has always been a key component of why radio is a different experience than listening to your iPod or music collection.
Habit plays a role in listening to the radio, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, becoming a part of people’s routines is what brings them back day in and day out. Consumers who wake up with your station (or go to sleep with it), and have “can’t miss” features or personalities are what ratings success is built on. Don’t under-estimate the power of habitual radio usage.
Mood elevation plays a role in radio listening for many people. When you think about some of the jobs or personal situations many in your audience find themselves in, your station, your programming, and your personalities often can play a role in simply making them feel better, providing that emotional, energy-infused lift.
And then there’s the listening at work piece that holds up very well in format after format in broadcast radio. There is something about having more than just music playing in the background that radio brings to the party. Radio at work makes sense for workers laying drywall, patients hanging out in a waiting room, or desk-jockeys doing their thing at a cubicle to help make the workday go by faster.
Facebook’s efforts to provide more robust emotional responses for its massive user base is a reminder that radio needs to get back in touch with this same foundation that makes stations essential, desirable, and different.
Understanding your station’s emotional role in the lives of listeners, accentuating those connections, and reminding the audience of their value are all part of redefining how your station interfaces with your communities in 2015.
Actually, it’s probably true these elements were there all along for radio, even before Al Gore invented the Internet. And they may be even more important today in helping broadcast radio continue to define and carve out its core differences and benefits.
Emotionally speaking, that is.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.
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