5 Steps to Getting Your Station’s Digital Strategy Off the Ground in 2017

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

It’s that time of year when we make resolutions, both personal and professional. If your radio station (or radio company) has been neglecting its digital strategy, or if it’s time to take that digital strategy to the next level, 2017 is the year to do it.

From time to time, radio stations ask me to talk about social media in a manner that suggests they view “social media” and “digital strategy” as interchangeable terms. In fact, social media is just one part of an overarching digital strategy. Moreover, it’s not the first part.

When people ask me to talk about how to use social media, my first question is always, “Is your radio station regularly publishing online content?” If the answer is “no,” then I actually prefer not to talk about social media. Because unless your station is creating its own online content, the most it can really hope to do with social media is push other people’s content around the web.

Sure, you can share fun stuff from YouTube, Rolling Stone, or TMZ. But that’s just going to drive your listeners to those websites. It’s not likely to have a significant impact on your station’s ratings or — more importantly — its revenue.

So if your radio station or company is still struggling to get its digital strategy up and off the ground, before your station starts asking questions about social media, take these steps:

1. Understand where social media fits into your radio station’s overall digital strategy.
Remember, “social media strategy” is not the same as “digital strategy.” That’s like saying that “adding detergent” is the same as “doing the laundry.” It helps get the job done, but it’s just one step in the overall process.

The overall digital strategy that your radio station or company should use is Content Marketing. This is a strategy that is used by thousands of companies outside of broadcasting that can be adapted for your radio station or company. This short video will give you a brief overview:

For a deeper look at how Content Marketing can work for you, check out this webinar recording.

2. Start publishing online content.
Online content – or a blog – is the foundation of your Content Marketing efforts. Once you have a grasp of the overall strategy, it’s time to put it into place. Of course, the first thing you need for Content Marketing is content — and that means you have to publish that content online. While your station may eventually want to create videos or podcasts, written content is usually the easiest to produce in large amounts — especially when you’re just starting out.

A blog is simply a section of the website that’s regularly updated with content. While it can be something like what Doogie Howser composed at the end of every episode of his eponymous TV show, it can also be something much more professional. The websites for Perez Hilton, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times are all, in essence, blogs.

I’ve put together a guide to launching a blog, as well as hosted this webinar on the topic. Start there.

3. Publish mo’ better online content.
In the beginning, I recommend that radio stations set realistic goals for their online content or blogs. If you come out of the gate thinking you’re going to publish five blogposts a day, you could be setting yourself up for failure. You’ll just wind up getting discouraged. Instead, aim for one solid post a week, or one per contributor each week. Once everyone gets the hang of it, increase the number to two. Then three. Over the course of several months, ramp up the quantity, making sure the quality holds up.

Once you’re publishing a healthy number of blogposts, focus on the quality. Develop editorial guidelines so that the style of the blog content appears consistent, even if you have different writers. Invest some time learning what makes for an effective blogpost headline. Invite guest bloggers to contribute material. And so forth.

4. Regularly talk about your blog.
Carve out time on a weekly basis to bring together the appropriate staff members to review your online content, both to see how recently published content is doing by reviewing website analytics, and to look ahead and plan upcoming content. You can incorporate this into your weekly programming or music meeting, or establish a new web meeting. But the key here is to set up a specific time to discuss your web strategy instead of relegating these conversations to random hallway occurrences. Here’s a webinar recording that will show you how to run a weekly web meeting.

5. Develop a social media strategy for your blog — along with SEO and on-air promotion.
Only now, after you’ve gotten into the habit of regularly publishing content on your radio station’s website, you’ve upped the game on that content, and you’re regularly reviewing the performance of that content, is your radio station truly ready to tackle social media. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying you should hold off on tweeting or posting status updates until reaching this point. I’m just saying these efforts will have limited upside without strong content on your website, so make sure you’re also completing the steps above.

Once you’re creating consistently good online content, you’re ready to start sharing it on social media. Think of your website as a radio station, and social networks like Facebook as local highways that get lots of traffic. Before you spend money putting up billboards advertising your radio station to the people on that highway, you’ve got to play great songs on your station. By the same token, before you start posting to social media, you need to put content on your website. Here’s a good rule of thumb for figuring out what content to share on social media.

Of course, social networks are just one way to promote your website content. There are other ways as well – notably search engines like Google, and your radio station’s airwaves. If your website is like a radio station and posting to Facebook is like putting up billboards by the highway, then optimizing your website for search engines is like running TV ads, and plugging your website on the air through live reads or production elements is like putting signs on the sides of buses. In short, social media is one way to promote your website’s content, but it is not the only way. Make sure that you are not ignoring the other methods for promoting your website’s content.

This year, set out to implement a holistic digital strategy for your radio station or company, not just one that focuses on individual components like social media. By linking all of the tools together into a coherent gameplan, you’ll be able to use the web to impact the station’s bottom line.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.

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