From time to time, I get asked what a radio station's digital strategy should be when launching a new morning show. There's no limit to what a station can do, but to start, I would implement a plan to create content on a daily basis that can be shared over social media. Then use that content to grow a morning show email list. This will enable the show to continually engage with the audience and drive more listenership. (If this sounds like a version of Content Marketing, that's because it is.)
Here's how it works:
Before the Show Launches:
1) Set up your social media accounts.
Facebook is the most important platform for reaching your audience, so set up a Facebook page (not a profile) for your morning show. I strongly recommend setting up Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok accounts as well. Even if your morning show is not going to use Snapchat or YouTube right away, it's a good idea to claim your morning show's handle on these networks so nobody else gets them.
I recommend using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or Sendible to cover all these different social media accounts. It will take a little time to learn them, but once you do, they will greatly speed up your social media engagement.
2) Brainstorm a list of “influencers” in the market.
Influencers are people or institutions in your market important and famous enough to have their own followings, but small enough they are still impressed the local radio morning show talks about them on air or online. Gather the team together and brainstorm a list of influencers in your market, including:
- Local bands and music venues
- Local sports teams and athletes
- Local television personalities
- Writers for the city papers
- Colleges and universities
- Popular restaurants, chefs, and breweries
- Events, such as festivals or fairs
Once you've compiled a list of influencers in your market, follow them on social media. You can start engaging with them online before the show launches. If your hosts are new to the market, have them introduce themselves online. While Facebook is generally good for reaching a large number of listeners, Twitter can be even more effective when reaching out to other influencers. So say hello!
3) Create a free customized show prep service.
Many of the influencers on your list will have websites where they are publishing their own content, whether it's news, blogs, or videos. You can subscribe to the RSS feeds for these sites and pull all of that content into one place where it's easy for you to find each morning; you're essentially creating a free, customized show prep service.
This video will also show you how:
4) Set up an automatic RSS-to-Email campaign to send show recaps to fans every morning.
Once the show launches, you'll want to create daily website posts with shownotes (explained below). You can set up an email campaign to automatically send these posts to fans over your morning show each day. You'll do this using a feature called “RSS-to-Email Campaigns.” The big advantage is that once the campaign is set up, you will send out emails every day without ever having to lift a finger. In fact, we use this type of campaign to send out the Jacobs Media blog post every weekday morning.
5) Set up the radio station website to capture email addresses for the morning show mailing list.
The digital goal here is simple: Grow the morning show's email list so you can use it to encourage people to listen to and engage with the show. It will also come in handy when your morning show wants to sell tickets to a station concert, raise money for a charity, or drive attendance to a station event.
There are a number of places on your website where you might want to encourage people to sign up for the mailing list, but one of my favorite techniques is pop-up windows. I have seen pop-up windows, when used strategically, increase email registration by over 500% — including on our own website. You can set your pop-up windows to appear on morning show posts and to simply ask, “Would you like us to email you a daily recap of the show?”
6) Create production elements that drive people to the radio station website.
Create simple sweepers that say let people know about the shownotes page and the email list. For example, “Want links to the things we talked about on this mornings show? Go to wkrp.com/morningshow.” Or, “Want us to email you a recap of the show every day? Sign up for our email list at wkrp.com/morningshow.”
7) Pre-purpose your show content so it will be available to share it on multiple platforms.
Don't repurpose your radio show, pre-purpose it. Plan for all the places you want to share pieces of your show and develop them accordingly. Here are detailed instructions.
After the Show Launches:
1) Every day, create a “Shownotes” post for with links to everything mentioned in that morning's show.
The Shownotes Page is a concept borrowed from the world of podcasting. It's just a blogpost with a list of links to everything discussed during that day's show so listeners can get more information if they want. If you talked about the upcoming arts and wine festival, a news story about a local robbery gone haywire, or last night's football game, include the corresponding links. It's easiest to pop open a Word doc or WordPress window during the show and keep a running list going, then take a few minutes to add the links in once the show is over.
2) After each show, pro-actively share that day's Shownotes post on social media.
After every show, go through a fifteen-minute post-show routine: Publish your shownotes post, then pro-actively share this post on social media. You're not just going to share it on the station and morning show's social media accounts; you're also going to tag the people and organizations that we've linked to in the show. The hope is that these influencers will then re-share the shownotes post with their following. That's how the post goes viral, growing your audience.
3) Execute your pre-purposed content plan.
In addition to your daily shownotes pages, share bits of your show on social media and other digital platforms in accordance with your pre-purposing plan from step #7 above. Here's an example of what that might look like.
4) Plug the Shownotes posts and the email list on the air.
In addition to the production elements that you're running on the air, don't forget to use live on-air mentions to drive listeners to your shownotes page. You can also encourage them to sign up for the email list.
5) Review your digital metrics every week.
Program Directors love on-air talent who ask questions about the ratings. When DJs show interest in how they're performing, it speaks volumes. By the same token, find out how your digital strategy is doing. On a regular basis, get together with your PD and your digital team to review key metrics from Google Analytics and other sources. Ask questions, like:
- Are you driving traffic back to your station's webpage?
- Which social media channels are most effective?
- Which influencers are most likely to engage with the show?
- Are you growing the email list?
Over time, you will start to figure out what works and what doesn't. Adjust your digital strategy accordingly.
Webinar: Digital Tricks for DJs
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the digital space. There's a lot more you can do, including playing with video, contests, and podcasts. But if you're looking for a place to start, I recommend the steps above. For those who want some more details on these steps, check out the webinar I hosted called, “Digital Tricks Every Radio DJ Should Know.”
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