Category Archives: Digital/Social/Web

Are You Squandering Your Radio Station Website’s Potential to Build Cume?

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

In radio, there are two ways to grow your ratings: Attract new listeners, or get your existing listeners to listen to the station longer. In industry jargon, you can build the cumulative audience (cume) or increase the time spent listening (TSL).

The conventional wisdom is that it is easier and less expensive to focus on getting existing listeners to listen longer. You can entice listeners to stick around to hear their favorite song, a clever morning show bit, or a compelling contest without breaking the bank. Attracting new listeners, on the other hand, is more difficult. You have to go get listeners that you don’t already reach through your airwaves and convince them to tune in. Historically, this has required paid advertising through billboards, television ads, etc. — things that few stations have large budgets for these days. It is also possible to build cume through unpaid earned media — such as the press coverage a station might get for a morning show stunt or a charity event — but this can be unpredictable.

Which is why a radio station’s website can be so valuable. If people who are not current listeners find your station’s online content on social media or in search engine results, they can click through to the station’s website, and discover the radio station. This is how a Content Marketing strategy works:

As a cume-building tool, Content Marketing can be far more cost-effective than traditional advertising…if your station’s website is set up for it.

Unfortunately, many radio station websites are geared towards existing listeners to the exclusion of newbies. This happens because we’re so familiar with the details of our own station, when we sit down to create our websites, we tend to forget that other people may not have the same level of familiarity. But if we’re not conscious of the fact that non-listeners may come to our sites, we could miss out on the opportunity to build cume.

The most common example of this is radio stations that use proper nouns in their website menus. For example, a radio station website menu may include a link labeled, “Fidget and Kim.” Fans of your station may know that Fidget and Kim are the morning show hosts, but others will not. Re-labeling the link “The Fidget and Kim Morning Show” will give these people more context. This issue can pop up all over a radio station’s website: with the names of contests, concerts, specialty shows, benchmark features, and e-mail clubs. Often, adding an extra word or two will make your website far more accessible to the masses.

This issue can crop up again when it comes to the order in which items are presented on the menu of a radio station website. To a P1 listener, it may make perfect sense why the DJs are listed in this order:

  • Johnny Fever
  • Les Nessman
  • Venus Flytra

After all, this is the order of their airshifts on the station. But to the uninitiated, this order makes little sense. It would be helpful to point this order in the menu so it makes sense:

  • Mornings: Johnny Fever
  • Middays: Les Nessman
  • Nights: Venus Flytrap

Sometimes, a radio station’s website can alienate potential listeners not because of what it says, but because of what it omits. For example, does the homepage make it clear what kind of music the station plays? Or is this crowded out by a slideshow? When you go to the morning show’s page, is there a blurb or introductory video explaining what the show is all about? Or does the page assume that visitors already know?

Take some time to review your radio station’s website with a fresh pair of eyes. Pretend you’re somebody who just moved to town, happened to click on a link on Facebook, and you’ve stumbled onto the site for the first time. Is this website welcoming to somebody who’s not already acquainted with the station, or does it presume a certain level of familiarity? (If you want to take this exercise a step further, a Website Usability Test is an excellent way to see how people interact with your site.)

Make sure that you’re not squandering the opportunity to use your website to grow the radio station’s ratings.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How to Fix Radio Station Blogposts That Don’t Look Right When You Share Them on Facebook

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

When describing the role that social networks like Facebook play in a radio station’s digital strategy, I often compare them to billboards by the side of the highway. Your station advertises on billboards in the hope that people will see those billboards and tune in. By the same token, your radio station should share content on Facebook in the hopes that people will click on it and come back to the station website. (For more explanation, watch this short video on Content Marketing strategy.)

Of course, it takes an eye-catching billboard to convince people to tune in. And it takes eye-catching content to convince people to click through to your website. That’s why, if you’re going through all the trouble of creating great content, it’s useful to use a tool like the Yoast WordPress plugin to control what people see when your content is shared on social media. In addition to controlling your content’s presence in Google’s search results, the Yoast plugin also allows you to determine the headline, description, and image used when your content is shared on Facebook or Twitter.

Of course, every once and a while I blow it with this plugin. Sometimes, I forget to configure the Yoast settings before publishing a blogpost. Other times, I configure them but misspell a word or make another mistake. I usually don’t realize this until I’m proactively sharing our content on social media. I’ll often notice my mistake as I’m drafting a post on Facebook.

What do you do when you want to share your content on social media, but the content doesn’t look right in the post preview?

Fortunately, Facebook has a tool designed for situations like these. It’s called the Facebook Sharing Debugger tool. Here’s how it works: Enter a URL, and Facebook will show you what it saw when it scraped that link. If you don’t like what Facebook sees, you can manually force Facebook to re-scrape the URL.

For example, let’s say I wrote a blogpost called “10 Things You Should Know About Katy Perry’s “Roar,” but when I configured the Yoast plugin settings, I accidentally mistyped and told Facebook that the title of the blogpost was, “10 Things You Should Know About Katy Perry’s “Rear.” This could be extremely embarrassing! Fortunately, as I try to share the link on Facebook, I notice the mistake in the post preview. So I go back to my WordPress post and correct the Yoast settings.

But how can I make sure that Facebook notices my corrections? All I have to do is go to the Facebook Sharing Debugger, enter the URL to the blogpost and click the ‘Debug’ button. Then, when the preview comes up, click the ‘Scrape Again’ button. Ta-da! Facebook picks up on my changes, and Katy Perry and I have been spared from an awkward moment at our next meet-and-greet.

If you are prone to make mistakes with your website content as often as I am, the Facebook Sharing Debugger tool can be a lifesaver. Bookmark it in your browser, use it when you make mistakes, and you could see an uptick in your website traffic.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How to Subscribe to Podcasts on Your Android Phone

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

The podcasting world is abuzz over a five-part interview with Zack Reneau-Weeden, Google’s Podcasts Product Manager, that was published recently. For years, podcasts have primarily been an iOS medium, with around five times as many downloads happening on Apple devices as Android devices. This is largely attributed to the fact that when you buy an iOS device, there is already a Podcasts app pre-installed. On Android devices, you have to go to the app store and download an app to play podcasts. That extra step results in a huge disparity between Android and iOS podcast listening.

According to our just released 2018 Techsurvey results, only 24% of radio listeners listen to podcasts weekly or more often. In fact, 45% never listen to podcasts at all. Many in the podcasting space, including me, believe that the key to unlocking podcasting’s growth will not be content — a hit podcast like Serial, for example — but rather a technological development. Namely, that Google will start shipping Android devices with a podcast app already installed on it.

Google came a little closer to this goal when they started including podcasts in their native Google Play Music app in 2016. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to an explosion of podcast listening on Android devices because not many people knew podcasts were available in the app. In reality, this step only caught Google up to Apple circa early 2012, back when Apple was still including podcasts in iTunes. Podcasting didn’t see a significant lift until 2014 when, with the introduction of iOS8, Apple started pre-installing its stand-alone Podcasts app on all of its devices.

The excitement around the recent interview with Reneau-Weeden comes from Google’s first public recognition that it could have a significant impact on podcast listening. “Our team’s mission is to help double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the next couple years,” he declared. Many of us have been saying that for a long time, so it’s encouraging to finally hear it from the mouth of a Google representative. Reneau-Weeden then lays out Google’s vision for podcasting. What’s interesting about this vision is that it will not merely copy what Apple has done — which would probably be enough to double podcast listening by itself — but rather, it will attempt to marry podcasting to the company’s core strength: Search.

Many of the pieces of this vision are already in place. So let’s take a closer look at how you can now discover podcasts on an Android phone:

1. Open up the Chrome mobile browser and search for a podcast in Google.
Here, I have searched for my podcast, The D Brief, on my Samsung Galaxy S8. You can see that the results are formatted specifically for a podcast: It offers a description, the ability to play the three most recent episodes, and a link to “More episodes.”

2. Click on “More episodes” to get to the podcast page.
By clicking on “More episodes,” I am taken to a new page that includes podcast artwork and, more importantly, a button that allows me to “Subscribe” to the podcast.

3. Click “Subscribe” and the Podcasts app will open with the podcast in it.
By clicking the “Subscribe” button, I am now taken to the Podcasts app, where I can find all of the podcasts that I have subscribed to. Interestingly, there is also a “Top Podcasts” section in the app (here featuring Joe Rogan and NPR). This may eventually rival Apple’s “New and Noteworthy” section in terms of importance in podcast discovery.


4. A Podcasts app has now been added to my Android home screen.
I did not have to go to the Android app store to install this app. It was there as soon as I subscribed to my first podcast from the search results in Chrome.


What is less clear at this point is whether or not, in the future, Google will make this app visible on all home screens from the start. In other words, will it appear as a pre-installed app in the same way that the Podcasts app does on iOS devices? Doing so may be the key to truly doubling the number of podcast listeners out there. However, the fact that Google has a dedicated team embracing podcasts is taken by everybody in the community as a positive sign that we could see more growth in the medium soon.

You can read the interview with Google’s Zach Reneau-Weeden here:  Part 1 · Part 2 · Part 3 · Part 4 · Part 5

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Shownotes: A Trick Radio Morning Shows Can Steal From Podcasters

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

 

Radio morning shows and podcasters can use shownotes to proactively engage others on social media. This video will show you how to do it.


For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

5 Targeted Email Campaigns Every Radio Station Should Set Up

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

The best way to increase the effectiveness of your radio station’s email marketing campaigns is to send your listeners information they want and — just as importantly — don’t send them any information that they don’t want. Many radio stations try to cram every bit of information about the radio station into one big email campaign. This can drive down open rates and click-through rates. Instead, you’ll want to set up multiple targeted email campaigns and allow listeners to sign up for just the ones that they want.

You can minimize the amount of work involved by automating your email marketing using RSS-to-email campaigns. When you publish content to your website, you can categorize it. For example, one post might appear in the “Concerts” category while another appears in the “Morning Show” category. Using a category-specific RSS feed, you set up this website content to be automatically emailed to the listeners who are interested. This saves you the trouble of individually writing multiple emails.

With that in mind, here are five targeted email campaigns that radio stations should consider:

1. Morning Show Recaps
On a daily basis, the morning show can publish recaps of its show. These recaps are similar to the shownotes pages that podcasters publish to accompany podcast episodes. They contain links to things that were discussed on the show, and can also include audio excerpts, videos, or photos from the show. A great way to cultivate your morning show’s fanbase is to email these shownotes to listeners who want to stay in the loop. (Shownotes can also be shared proactively on social media.)

2. Artist Interviews
The hardcore music fans in your audience will never want to miss an interview. Indulge them by allowing them to sign up for emails whenever a new artist interview is posted to the station’s site.

3. Concert Info
Let’s face it, not everyone in your audience likes to go to concerts, and even those who do may not go often enough to want a regular email about upcoming shows. Superserve only the hardcore concert goers with an email campaign dedicated to them.

4. Contests
Likewise, many of your listeners will never enter a contest; they’re just there for the music. Don’t annoy these listeners with constant emails about something they’re not interested in. Let those who feel lucky opt into a specific campaign about your station’s contests.

5. Specialty Show Playlists
Specialty shows often have a small but dedicated following. So while you won’t want to send the playlist for your local music show to everybody, you definitely want to indulge the few that are interested. Set up a targeted email campaign for each of your specialty shows, whether they cover new music or public affairs, and allow listeners to opt in.

The more you can segment your email campaigns so you’re sending listeners only the content that’s most relevant to them, the more you will see your open rates and clickthroungh rates increase and your unsubscribe rates decrease. By enabling people to specify what they want to receive, you can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your email marketings.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

3 Things I Learned from Configuring My Alexa Devices

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

When I bought my Amazon Echo a year ago, it immediately changed my behavior at home. I suddenly found myself listening to music around the house far more often. Moreover, I found myself listening to a wider variety of music than ever before. And it wasn’t just music. Suddenly, it was easy to call up a podcast or audiobook while cooking or folding the laundry. Thanks to the Echo, audio entertainment became a far more frequent occurrence in my home.

I recently moved into a new house, and this week I finally found the time to configure my smart speaker setup. I have an Amazon Echo, and my girlfriend has two Amazon Dots. I spent a couple of hours figuring out which device should go in which room. (FYI: A Dot in the bedroom, a Dot in the living room, and the Echo in the kitchen.) Along the way, I discovered a few of Alexa’s quirks. Here are three that radio broadcasters (and audio fans) should be aware of:

1. Devices can be grouped, but they can only belong to one group.
In the Alexa smartphone app that you use to set up your devices, you can create “Audio Groups.” This allows you to play audio on multiple devices simultaneously. So as I move from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen in the course of my morning routine, I can listen everywhere I go.

Unfortunately, devices can only belong to one group at a time. So if I have a group called “Front of House” with my living room Dot and my kitchen Echo, I cannot also have a group called “Everywhere” that contains all three devices. Amazon forces you to pick and choose groups.

2. Bluetooth speakers don’t work with Audio Groups.
While the Echo has a decent speaker, the audio quality from the Dots is subpar. Normally, this is fine, because I can connect them to a quality bluetooth speaker. Unfortunately, when a device is used in conjunction with other devices through an Audio Group, the bluetooth functionality goes away. This apparently happens because there is a lag when using bluetooth, so the audio coming from the different devices would be out of sync.

One workaround is to connect the Alexa device to the bluetooth speaker through an old fashioned audio cable. Unfortunately, I moved into an older house where the wiring isn’t grounded. This means that when I have the bluetooth speaker plugged into a power outlet and connected to a Dot with an audio cable at the same time, there’s an annoying hum. So, at the moment, to get a high-quality voice-activated audio setup that doesn’t require me to manually plug or unplug any wires, I’ll have to spend more money. My advice: Before you plunk down a lot of cash down for expensive bluetooth speakers, make sure you understand how they work with Alexa’s Audio Groups.

3. Alexa Routines now include audio.
Last year, Amazon introduced “Routines,” the ability to chainlink multiple commands and give it a unique name. For example, you can create a routine called “Start My Day” containing weather and traffic actions. When you say, “Alexa, start my day,” she will read the weather and traffic reports. I was bummed to learn that Routines are limited to a short list of actions: news, weather, traffic, volume control, smart home devices (such as turning up the heat on a wi-fi thermostat), and silly Alexa sayings. No music — at least, not on the evening that I was arranging my devices.

Lo and behold, the very next day, Amazon announced that they were adding the ability to listen to music, radio, and podcasts to Routines. However, this audio can only come from a short list of audio providers: Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, or your personal library. The good news for radio stations is that this makes it possible for Alexa owners to include their favorite radio morning show in their morning Routines. The (only somewhat) bad news is that it’s only possible through a third party that radio stations have no control over.

At the Worldwide Radio Summit in May, Fred Jacobs will reveal the results of our latest Techsurvey. This year, over 550 radio stations participated and more than 64,000 radio listeners told us how they’re using new technologies. But we’ve already revealed once juicy tidbit: smart speaker ownership is exploding. In fact, it nearly doubled in a single year, with 21% of respondents reporting that they own a smart speaker, up from just 11% in 2017. The vast majority of these people own Amazon devices.

If the audio listening habits of these people change as dramatically as my own habits have, it could have significant impact on radio broadcasters. If you’re in radio and you don’t own a smart speaker, I highly recommend getting one or two to see what you learn by using them. Plus, you can write them off as a business expense! 

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Why Your Station Should Switch to a Secure Website

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

In the wake of recent revelations about the way Facebook data has been used, the general public is expressing increased concern over data privacy. This concern will impact radio stations, as listeners will come to expect that any data they provide through their favorite radio station’s website will be kept secure. In light of these concerns, it is more important than ever that radio stations secure their websites.

When we talk about “secure websites,” we mean that the data passed between the computer that a website originates from and the computer with the browser displaying the site is scrambled. If somebody else accesses the data as it is passed from one computer to the other, they will only be able to see a string of characters, and they will not be able to make any sense of it.

Insecure website URLs begin with “http://,” while secure website URLs begin with “https://.” The extra letter ‘s’ stands for ‘secure,’ and signifies that the website is using an SSL Certificate (a special set of files) to encrypt its data. When you visit a secure website, you will see a green padlock displayed in your browser’s URL bar to indicate that the site is secure.

If your radio station’s website is not currently secured with an SSL certificate, here’s why your webmaster should secure it:

1. Your Station is Asking Listeners for Personal Data
Your radio station is probably asking your listeners to provide data through its website, whether it’s inviting them to register for the email database or to enter a contest. Ensuring that listeners’ data is safe is not only the ethical thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do as well. It reduces your station’s risk of everything from lawsuits to PR debacles.

2. Browsers Will Scare Listeners Away from Insecure Websites
Increasingly, web browsers are going to do more to let people know that they are visiting insecure websites. Currently, if you use Google Chrome to visit an insecure site, the browser labels it with a grey “info” icon in the URL bar. In the near future, Chrome will label insecure websites with red warning icons. These new labels will discourage listeners from entering personal information into your station website, and you will likely see a drop off in email signups and contest entries.

3. It Will Impact Your Ranking in Google’s Search Results
For years, Google has indicated that it will take a website’s security into consideration when deciding which ones to list at the top of its search results. If your website is not secure, you could be losing traffic to similar sites because Google would rather send people to a site that will provide people with a safer experience.

Securing a website is usually not a difficult process. If you haven’t secured your radio station’s site, now is the time to talk to your web developer about doing it.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Facebook’s Got Big Problems – And They’re Going to Impact Your Radio Station

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

Fred Jacobs:  “Social media has become a part of radio’s promotional, marketing, and in some cases, sales plans. Over the past decade, its use has skyrocketed, led by the almighty Facebook. Always first in both “cume” and daily “time spent socializing” in our Techsurveys, Facebook has emerged as a go-to tool for stations, as well as personalities.” 

“Our resident Digital Dot Connector – Seth Resler – has been thinking long and hard about how Facebook’s recent problems impact all of  us, but also how radio broadcasters will be affected by an unsettled environment in the world’s leading social media platform. Trying to make sense out of a landscape that is now very much in flux goes to the heart of Seth’s “take” on where Facebook might be headed – and where that leaves radio.”

Recently, I was at the Michigan Association of Broadcasters’ Great Lakes Media Show in Lansing, when a social media manager told me that her radio station had seen a significant dropoff in interaction on Facebook since the social network had altered its algorithm in the wake of criticism over its role in the 2016 election.

Other radio stations have reported the same thing to me: huge declines in the number of people seeing and engaging with their content since Facebook has shifted its focus away from displaying business page content and towards personal interaction.

“How do we get more people to see our posts?” the social media manager asked me.

I don’t know.

I don’t know because Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t know.

If you’ve been following the news, you know Facebook is facing huge problems and even bigger questions at the moment. In the wake of revelations that Cambridge Analytica used the social network to gather data on millions of people and use that data to exploit political divisions, Facebook’s stock nosedived, losing nearly $5o billion in value. After several days of being MIA, Zuckerberg finally made the rounds in the media to apologize.

But Facebook’s problems go well beyond a mere public relations issue. While facts are still coming to light, it’s possible the social network was weaponized by foreign actors in an attempt to hobble the most powerful nation on the planet.

Your radio station’s decline in interaction is just one small piece of a much larger and murkier picture. Facebook will inevitably be forced to change the way it does business. In the past, they’ve never been particularly good at communicating about changes they make to their platform. Now, as the company faces pressure from angry users, investors, and government regulators, there’s no telling what they’ll do as they muddle through this mess.

One thing is sure: Whatever happens, it will impact your radio station…along with thousands of other businesses across the globe.

So what is a radio station to do?

We’ve often talked about the difference between “renting” and “owning” channels. When you create original content and post it on your website, you are using a channel that you own. When you post content on Facebook, you are renting a channel that somebody else owns.

Of course, the rent has always been free … or at least, so it seemed. Now we’re discovering that “free” comes with a heavy price. For users, that price is a loss of privacy. For businesses, that price is an algorithm with rules that can be changed at a moment’s notice, without explanation or notification.

Over the years, our annual Techsurveys have shown that Facebook is, by far, the dominant social network used by radio listeners. So dominant, in fact, that we’ve advised many radio stations to focus the vast majority of their social media efforts on Facebook. If you had limited resources — and every radio station I know has limited resources — the smart move is to shortchange Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and spend your time, creativity, and effort on Facebook instead.

In the wake of recent revelations, it may be time to revisit that advice. Not because we expect Facebook to lose its position as the dominant social network — although some users may abandon it out of privacy concerns — but because it may be unwise for radio stations to put all of their eggs in Zuck’s basket. It’s time for your radio station to diversify its social media efforts by increasing its investment in other channels.

Of course, to do this, you’ll need more eggs. If your radio station has been skating by with a single, less experienced staffer handling your social media strategy, it’s time to step up your game. You will need to invest serious resources into hiring, training, and tools for social media. Offer digital staffers salaries that are competitive with other industries. Send your digital staffers to training programs and conferences outside of the radio space to help them gain a competitive edge. Invest in social media management software that enables your team to successfully execute their strategy.

Because if there’s one takeaway in the current controversy, it’s that social media is an incredibly powerful communication tool — powerful enough to disrupt nations — and broadcasting companies need to treat it as seriously as they treat their airwaves.

In just a few weeks, Techsurvey 2018 will be presented, revealing new metrics that will help radio stations of all formats make these decisions. With more than 64,000 respondents in the sample, we’ll have data on more than a dozen formats that will provide guidance and direction.

For some stations, investment in other social platforms will be an effective tool for connecting to your audience. For others where Facebook has been the only portal that’s mattered, your social impact will most certainly suffer.

But as Fred reminded me, there’s always that other form of “social interaction” – street presence and eye contact with your audience. As the weather improves all over the country, this might be a good time to connect more personally with your audience.

And at least you own your station van.

 

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How Radio Stations Can Use Gary Vaynerchuck’s $1.80 Instagram Strategy

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

Gary Vaynerchuck (a.k.a. “Gary Vee”), the CEO of digital media agency VaynerMedia, is a popular speaker, author, and podcaster in the digital marketing space. He’s also an Instagram evangelist.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Personally, I am bearish on Instagram’s value as a marketing tool for radio stations. First, because radio is not an inherently visual medium. Second, because Instagram — unlike, for example, Pinterest — does not allow users to include clickable links inside individual posts. You can only include a clickable link in the account profile. This makes it very difficult to use Instagram to drive traffic back to your radio station’s website, where you can steer visitors towards actions that contribute to your station’s bottom line.

Nonetheless, as Facebook tweaks its algorithm to show users less content from businesses and media outlets, many radio stations are expressing a desire to invest more time and energy into other social networks, including Instagram. (Note: Facebook owns Instagram.) If your radio station is looking for some practical advice for approaching Instagram, you may want to adopt Vaynerchuck’s $1.80 Instagram strategy.

1. Identify Popular Hashtags in Your Market
Last year, Instagram enabled people to search posts by hashtag. To do this, open Instagram on your phone and click the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen. When the search bar appears at the top of your screen, click in it. Four tabs will appear: Top, People, Tags, and Places. Click on “Tags” and type in the tag that you want to search for.

One way to find popular hashtags in your market is to choose a big venue, such as a convention center, university, or park. Go to the calendar on the venue’s website. Browse the upcoming events, find the websites for the most popular events, and scan their social media feeds for hashtags. Using this technique, you may discover local hashtags like #ComicConSLC or #DenverBeerFest.

You can also find hashtags with a site like TrendsMap.com. Although Trends Map tracks Twitter hashtags, not Instagram hashtags, the two social networks are likely to have overlapping hashtags.

Vaynerchuck recommends identifying the ten hashtags that are most relevant to your audience. Some of those hashtags, such as #Orlando, may stay the same over time. Others, such as #FinalFour, may come and go.

2. Leave Thoughtful Comments
For each of these ten hashtags, you’ll want to identify the top nine posts. When considering posts, look at a number of factors — the number of followers the posting account has, the number of likes, the number of comments, the relevance to your audience, etc. This is not an exact science; you’re eyeballing the post and making an educated guess. On each of these top posts, leave a thoughtful comment. Gary refers to this as “adding your 2 cents,” which is where the $1.80 strategy comes from: 10 hashtags * 9 posts * $.02 = $1.80.

It’s important to make sure the comments you leave are relevant and engaging to the publisher of the original post. A good example: Reply to a local comedy club who posts about an upcoming show with Kathleen Madigan by saying “She’s hilarious! Can’t wait for the show!” A bad example: Replying with a generic “That’s awesome!” on multiple posts.

3. Browse Local Posts and Comment
Because radio stations have geographic boundaries that many other companies don’t, you can also identify top relevant posts by conducting a search for local images. To do this, when you search Instagram, simply click on the “Places” tab instead of the “Tags” tab.


4. Repeat Daily
Gary claims that if you do this every day for a month, you will see substantial growth in your Instagram following. It’s worth noting that he’s measuring success in terms of the number of Instagram followers you have. I think it’s far more important to keep an eye on your Google Analytics to see if the amount of incoming website visitors from Instagram increases. Also, watch to see how many of these visitors produce goal conversions.

The $1.80 strategy is time-consuming. Vaynerchuck suggests spending about three hours per day finding and responding to posts. At this point, I can’t endorse it as a tried-and-true method for stations with limited resources. However, for radio brands/personalities looking for a practical way to experiment with Instagram strategies, this is a good place to start. You can then refine your strategy based on the results.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

The WordPress Plugin That Will Help Your Radio Station’s Website Get Into Google Search Results

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

“Search Engine Optimization,” which is the art of getting your website content to show up in the results of search engines like Google when people search for specific terms, is often overlooked by radio stations. SEO is a critical component of any digital strategy. I would argue that it is as important to pay attention to your radio station’s SEO strategy as it is to pay attention to your radio station’s Facebook strategy.

Why do you invest time and energy into making sure that your website content can be found on Facebook? Because lots of your listeners use it.

Why should you invest time and energy into making sure that your website content can be found on Google? Because lots of your listeners use it.

Yet SEO can be intimidating. An entire cottage industry has popped up around search engine optimization. You can hire a company to go through all of your website content and optimize it for you. But if you can’t convince your GM to make this expenditure — or if your station is not producing enough website content yet to justify the cost — there is a WordPress plugin that can help you with the basics.

The Yoast SEO Plugin
Yoast SEO is a popular WordPress plugin, which means that your station’s website will need to be built on the WordPress platform to take advantage of it. Yoast actually offers a handful of plugins, including ones to optimize videos, commerce websites, and local businesses. They also offer a premium version of their plugin. I recommend that you start with the free version of the regular plugin and, once you get the hang of it, decide if you want to upgrade.

What exactly does the Yoast plugin do? It does a lot — it’s quite powerful! — but in this column, I am going to focus on its ability to control what people see when your content is shared on social media or found in search engine results. Here are the basic steps:

1. Install the Yoast Plugin and Configure the Sitewide Settings
Your web developer can quickly install the Yoast plugin just like they would install any other website plugin. Once they do, they can navigate to the plugin’s settings page by clicking on ‘SEO’ in the dark left-hand column in the WordPress backend. Your webmaster can go through each tab one at a time. Most of these settings are intuitive, but there is a Configuration Wizard and plenty of support documentation if you need it.

2. On Individual Pages and Posts, Get in the Habit of Configuring Your SEO Settings
Now that the plugin has been installed, you will see a new box in the WordPress backend of your posts labeled “Yoast SEO”:

Here, you can control what shows up in Google, Facebook, and Twitter when this particular webpage is found there. Note the three icons to the left: Three vertical dots, the ‘Share’ symbol (three dots connects by lines), and a gear.

Google Settings
When you click on the three vertical dots, you can control how your page will appear in Google search results. The ‘Snippet Preview’ shows you how your page will appear in Google. By default, the plugin will pull the first several words from your post. However, you’ll want to write a concise summary of the post to be used instead. Click the ‘Edit Snippet’ button, and you can type in the summary you want Google to use. A colored bar will turn red to show you if your summary is too long.

You can also control the headline that Google uses here. By default, the plugin uses the title of the blogpost. However, there are circumstances in which you may want to use a different headline. For example, you want “keywords” — the words people are likely to type into Google when looking for content like yours — to appear in the headline. This increases the chances that your content will show up in Google’s search results. If they are not already in the post or page’s title, you’ll want to include them here.

In fact, if you enter “Focus Keywords” in the ‘Analysis’ section below, the plugin will tell you how you can improve the likelihood that your content will appear in Google’s search results. It will identify ‘Problems,’ suggest ‘Improvements,’ and tell you what’s ‘Good’ about the post.

On our blog, Fred often uses artistic titles. For example, he might write a blogpost about The Beatles called “Remembering the Fab Four.” This title makes sense when you see it within the context of our website, but it is unlikely to show up in Google’s search results because most people will search for “Beatles,” not “Fab Four.” So we want to use the Yoast plugin to change the headline that appears in Google to “Remembering The Beatles” without changing the headline that appears at the top of our webpage. We can do that here.

Social Media Settings
When you click on the ‘Share’ icon, you get to the social media settings for your post or page. Here, you can control what appears when this webpage is shared to Facebook or Twitter. In addition to the headline and the excerpt, you can also control the image that is used. By default, the Featured Image is used for social media. However, for really important pages — such as a page about your radio station’s big annual concert — you may want to use images that are the ideal sizes for each social network (1200 by 630 pixels for Facebook and 1024 by 512 pixels for Twitter).

Advanced Settings
Finally, if you click on the gear icon, you’ll find the ‘Advanced Settings.’ The ‘Meta Robots Index’ allows you to decide if this particular page should be indexed by Google. I often set pages that I don’t want to be seen by the general public to “No Index.” For example, you may want to do this with any pages that are only meant to be seen by clients.

There’s a lot more that the Yoast SEO plugin can do, but by taking an extra minute to configure these settings every time you publish new content on your website, you increase the likelihood that your content will appear in search engines, and the likelihood that people will click through to your content when they see it on social media.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.