Category Archives: Digital/Social/Web

Review These 8 Digital Places Where Listeners Interact With Your 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

Twelve years ago, when I was a radio station program director, my staff would huddle once a week for our “Music Meeting,” where we would decide what songs to add to, move up in or drop from rotation. We would compile a ton of data for this meeting, including airplay charts, callout research and concert calendars. But this data-driven approach bears little resemblance to how the average listener experienced music on our station.

So one day, I decided to take the staff out of the station. We piled into the car and drove to three different music stores to see what our listeners were experiencing when they went shopping for the songs they heard on the radio. Could they find the baby bands we were playing? How were the biggest artists represented in the shops? Was there a difference between the shopping experience at indie stores and big box chains?

The results were eye-opening. Often, we were championing artists on the air, only to find out that our efforts were being hindered on the ground. Sometimes, it’s useful to step out of the confines of our radio station offices and experience things the same way that our listeners do.

Today, technological changes mean that our listeners may experience our radio stations in any one of many different ways. When is the last time you examined the paths to your radio station with a fresh pair of eyes? If it’s been a while, take a moment to put yourself in a listener’s shoes and try approaching your radio station through each of these channels:

1. Website
Take a look at your radio station’s website on three different types of devices: a desktop computer, a tablet and a smartphone. Based on what you see, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where is this station?
  2. What type of music does this station play?
  3. Who are the core artists on this station?

To fully understand how listeners are interacting with your radio station’s website, you’ll want to run a usability test.

2. Social Media
Take a look at your social media feeds with fresh eyes, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But don’t focus on your station’s page for each of these social networks. Instead, examine individual posts in isolation. After all, most people see these posts in their feeds, not on your page. Based on what you see, ask yourself:

  1. Does this post make sense without the context of the station’s website or social media page surrounding it?
  2. How does this post compare to others that might come up in a listener’s feed? How does it compare to other posts in your own feed? Is it as compelling as the other posts from your friends?

3. Search Engines
Listeners may come to your website after conducting a search in a search engine like Google. What will they see in the search engine results? To find out, you may first want to use a VPN to ensure that your search results are not colored by your browsing history. Then, conduct searches for popular terms that revolve around your website, such as:

  • Call letters
  • Morning show name
  • DJ names
  • Specialty show names
  • Names of signature concerts or events
  • Names of benchmark bits
  • “[Format] radio station in [City]”

Are the results that come up accurate? Do they link to the correct pages on your station’s website? Do the pages’ titles and descriptions support your branding? If not, you may need to optimize your website for search engines.

4. Mobile Apps
Before opening your radio station’s mobile apps, see how they appear in the Apple and Google app stores. Ask yourself:

  1. Are they easy to find when searching the app store by call letters, station name and morning show name?
  2. Is the description of the app compelling?
  3. How are the reviews for the app?
  4. Is the logo on the icon current? Is it clear and readable on the phone?

The best way to take a fresh look at your radio station’s mobile app is to run a usability test on it, just as you would for the station’s website. Be sure to test both the Apple and Android versions of your app.

5. TuneIn
Some listeners will access your radio station through the TuneIn mobile app. When’s the last time your opened up TuneIn to see how your station is represented there? Take a look.

6. Car Dashboards
How do listeners see your radio station when they’re in the car? That often depends on the type of car stereo they have. Try tuning in to your radio station in a car with a radio equipped with RDS, a dashboard running the Android Auto operating system and a dashboard running the Apple CarPlay operating system. Ask yourself:

  1. Is it easy to get to your station?
  2. How well is any additional data displayed in the dashboard?

7. Smart Speakers
As we’ve seen in our most recent Techsurvey, 11 percent of radio listeners now own smart speakers and the number is growing quickly. Have you tried to access your radio station on the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple Homepod? Test it out and ask yourself:

  1. What words can be used to pull up the radio station?
  2. Are there phrases that don’t work?

If you have developed special skills for your radio station, do all the commands work as they should?

8. Podcatchers
If your radio station produces podcasts, people may be accessing them in iTunes, Apple’s Podcasts app or other podcatchers (podcast listening apps). Try searching for your radio station in popular podcatchers, including:

  • iTunes (on a desktop computer)
  • Apple Podcasts app
  • Stitcher
  • Google Play Music
  • iHeartRadio

As broadcasters, it’s easy for us to get mentally stuck inside the confines of our own building. Every once and a while, it’s a good idea to step back and reevaluate how listeners are accessing our stations, and see if there are opportunities for improvement.

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

How to Reduce the Bounce Rate on Your Station’s 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

A website “bounce” happens when somebody comes to your station’s site and then leaves without navigating to another page on your site. Like radio tune-outs, bounces can happen for any number of reasons: people may have gotten what they needed from the webpage, they may not like what they see on the page or there may be an external factor that has nothing to do with the site. For example, they may have been viewing your site on their phone when they arrived at their bus stop, so they left.

Like radio tune-outs, the fewer bounces your website has, the better. You can track your bounce rate (the number of single page view visits divided by the total number of visits) in Google Analytics. As a rule of thumb, you should aim for a bounce rate of less than 50%. Lower is always better.

Here are six ways to reduce the bounce rate on your radio station’s website:

1. Include inline links to related content.

When people are reading one piece of content on your website, encourage them to visit related content. While many websites do this by including links to related content at the end of a blogpost, inserting them directly into the body of the post can improve your bounce rate even more. Politico does this very effectively:

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2. Make sure your social media posts accurately reflect your content.

When people click a link to your content on social media, they have expectations about what they are going to see. If you violate those expectations, they will leave.

For example, if I see a post about Metallica’s upcoming tour in my Facebook feed, but clicking on the link takes me to a gluten-free cheesecake recipe, I am going to bounce. This is an extreme example, but sometimes we accidentally give people the wrong impression when we post to social media.

For example, if the blogpost was about all of the concert tours happening this summer, but didn’t mention Metallica until the seventh paragraph, people may be confused if the Facebook post implies that the content is all about Metallica.

Make sure that your content — especially the headline — is clearly related to the social media post used to share it.

3. Optimize content for search engines.

Likewise, when people click on links in the results in search engines like Google, they have expectations about what they will see. Be sure to optimize your blogpost correctly. Start by including keywords in the title, the URL and the body of your text. For example, if your blogpost is about Kanye West, include Kanye’s name in the post’s title. Avoid titles that are too vague.

4. Conduct a website usability test.

If your website is not easy to use, people will leave. Run a Website Usability Test to see how people interact with your site. In this test, you sit people down in front of your website and ask them to perform certain tasks while thinking out loud.

For example, you might ask them to enter a contest they heard about on the radio, find more information on the morning show or sign up for the station’s email list. This test will show you what people have trouble doing when they come to your website. Making changes based on the results can have a positive impact on your website’s bounce rate.

5. Optimize your site for mobile devices.

When you look at your Google Analytics, pay attention to the bounce rate across different types of devices: desktops, tablets and mobile. The bounce rate will almost always be higher on mobile devices because we are less likely to leisurely browse on our smartphones, but if it’s dramatically higher this could be a cause for concern.

If your website is not designed to look good on smartphone browsers (you’ve seen those sites — the ones that you have to pinch and zoom in on to read on a phone), then you’re probably driving visitors away. It’s also a good idea to run a usability test on the mobile version of your website in addition to the desktop version to make sure that it is just as easy to use.

6. Increase readability.

Another good way to decrease your website’s bounce rate is to make your content more readable. For many sites, this means reducing the grade level of the content by removing big vocabulary words and shortening sentences.

With radio station websites, however, it is often helpful to raise the grade level of the content. Make sure that the blog uses complete sentences that are grammatically correct. Avoid emoticons, excessive use of exclamation points and all caps. You can measure the grade level of a blogpost with this tool.

7. Tune up your site’s speed.

If it takes too long for your webpage to load, people will bail out. If you find that your site takes a long time to load and you have a high bounce rate, there could be a correlation. There are a number of ways to boost your site speed, from using a CDN to reducing plugins to cleaning up code; your webmaster can investigate these.

Do you know what the bounce rate is on your radio station’s website? If not, find out and decide whether or not it’s an issue that you need to address.

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

How to Use Twitter to Engage with Influencers in Your Radio Market

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 stations often think about using social media as a tool to reach listeners, but it’s also a great way to reach other leaders in your market who can in turn reach your listeners. We call these people “influencers” — the folks who have a large following of their own that overlaps with your station’s fanbase. They can help your radio station amplify its message and reach more people.

I’ve written about engaging with influencers before, especially as part of the launch of a new radio morning show. But I want to take a closer look at how you can use Twitter in particular to engage with these leaders in your community. While Facebook is a fantastic tool for engaging with your station’s audience at large, I find Twitter to be more effective with influencers.

Here’s a step-by-step process for doing so:

1. Identify key topic areas for your radio station.
Make a list of all the subjects that your listeners are interested in. This will vary based on your target demographic — Alternative music fans might like craft beer while Hot AC listeners may care about parenting — but here are some possibilities to jumpstart your thinking:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Beer
  • Cars
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Movies
  • Parenting
  • Pets
  • Restaurants
  • Science Fiction
  • Superheroes
  • Television
  • Video Games
  • Wine

2. Brainstorm a list of related influencers in your market.
Now that you’ve got a list of hot topics, it’s time to make a list of the people and organizations in your market who have a following related to those topics. Are there local automotive bloggers, parenting magazines, or restaurant associations? Here’s another list of possibilities to get you thinking:

  • Bands
  • Bloggers
  • Breweries
  • Chefs
  • Colleges and universities
  • Concert venues
  • Festivals and events
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Reporters and columnists
  • Television personalities
  • Theaters and performing art spaces
  • Trade organizations

3. Start a shared spreadsheet.
Okay, let’s get organized. Enter this list into a spreadsheet — preferably a shared file such as a GoogleDoc so that multiple staff members can access it. Add columns for all of the information you want to collect about these influencers, including:

  • Organization
  • Category (I like to quickly sort my influencer by the topic areas from step one, such as ‘Food’ or ‘Music’ or ‘Sports.’)
  • Website URL
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Job Title
  • Email Address
  • City (in case you want to target influencers by geography)
  • Contact Page URL (some websites ask you to fill out a contact form instead of providing an email address)
  • Facebook Page URL
  • Twitter URL
  • Instagram URL
  • YouTube Channel URL

You may want to install an extension for your web browser that allows you to quickly open multiple links. For example, I use the Bulk URL Opener extension on my Chrome browser. When I want to open the Twitter page of every ‘Sports’ influencer on my list, I sort it by category, select and copy the Twitter URLs, click the Bulk URL Opener button, and paste the URLs in. Boom! I have each influencer’s Twitter page open in a different browser tab.

4. Divide your influencers into Twitter lists.
Create a Twitter list for each category of influencers. To do this, first follow the influencer by clicking the ‘Follow’ button. Then, click the three small dots next to the ‘Follow’ button and select “Add or remove from lists” from the dropdown menu. You can add the influencer to an existing Twitter list or create a new one.

5. Follow these lists in a social media management app.
I recommend using a social media management app like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. These make it much easier to use social networks — especially Twitter.

I use Hootsuite to manage my social media. I create a tab for “Twitter Lists” and on that tab, I create a stream (column) for each of my lists. This allows me to quickly and easily scan the stream and see what all of my influencers are tweeting about.

For example, I am launching a new podcast about Detroit this fall. To get ready for that, I am following Detroit influencers on Twitter and dividing them into lists. Here is what those Twitter lists look like in Hootsuite:

 

 

 


6. Retweet the best tweets from these influencers.

On a daily basis, spend a few minutes perusing the lists in your social media management app. Look for the best tweets from your influencers and retweet them. These influencers will notice that you shared their tweets and it will build goodwill with them.

The advantage of dividing your influencers into lists by category is that this allows you to make sure that you are tweeting about the right topics in the right ratios. You don’t want to go overboard on ‘Science Fiction,’ or ignore ‘Sports.’ Having the lists in different columns can help you avoid these issues.

7. Use #FollowFriday to give your influencers a shoutout.
Follow Friday is a popular meme on Twitter. Every Friday, Twitter users show appreciation for other Twitter users by listing them in a tweet with the hashtag ‘#FollowFriday’ or ‘#FF.’ It’s a nice way to give a shoutout to others. Acknowledge your influencers with this hashtag and they’ll appreciate it.

8. Share your influencers’ content and tag them in the tweets.
If your influencers create content, such as columns, blogposts, videos or podcast episodes, share a link to that content over Twitter. Be sure to tag the influencer in your tweet by including their Twitter handle so they notice.

At Jacobs Media, I frequently share posts from Alan Cross’ wonderful blog, A Journal of Musical Things! When I do, I always include ‘@alancross‘ in the tweet because I want him to know that we’re giving him some love.

9. Share your radio station’s content and tag the relevant influencers in the tweets.
When sharing your radio station’s website content on Twitter, include the Twitter handle of the appropriate influencers in the tweet. Be careful not to tag influencers who aren’t relevant. When sharing your blogpost about last night’s Cage the Elephant show, you should tag the concert venue but not the quarterback of the college football team. Hopefully, they will retweet the station, passing your content along to their followers and increasing your website traffic.

When it comes to social media, don’t think of it as just a way to reach listeners. It’s also a great tool for connecting with other leaders in the community — especially on Twitter.

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

Submit Your Radio Station’s Podcast to These 6 Directories

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

I spent this week surrounded by thousands of podcasters at the Podcast Movement conference in Anaheim. This year, Jacobs Media hosted a day full of sessions geared towards radio broadcasters: “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters.” It was great to see so many of our brethren show interest in the medium; two years ago I complained that hardly any radio broadcasters were present at the conference.

For radio stations looking to launch their first podcast, I’ve put together a guide. And if you’re still trying to come up with a concept for a show, here are some ideas.

But if you’ve recorded your first episode, you’re now ready to upload the audio file to a hosting company and submit your to directories around the web to ensure that listeners can find it.

Here’s how it works:

Hosts and Directories
You create create your episode as an MP3 audio file. Just as the files for your website live on a hosting platform like GoDaddy, your audio files will live on a podcast hosting platform like AudioBoom, Art19, Blubrry, Libsyn, Omny Studio, Spreaker, etc. (I don’t recommend SoundCloud.) Of course, people don’t go to GoDaddy to access your website files; they use a browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. By the same token, people don’t go to your hosting company to access your audio file; they use an app like Apple Podcasts, iTunes, PocketCasts, Overcast, etc. How do you get your audio file from your host into the thse apps? Through directories.

Your Podcast’s RSS Feed
When you first set up your podcast hosting company, you will be provided with an RSS feed. Think of this feed as a pipe. When you upload a new audio file to your host, it will be pushed down the pipe. Now you need to hook your pipe up to the directories so it goes to the right places.

When submitting your RSS feed to the different directories, it’s best to already have at least one audio file uploaded to your hosting service. Because it can take several days for a directory to approve the submission of your RSS feed, I recommend creating a short (less than 60 seconds) teaser instead of sing your first episode.

Once the feed has been approved by all of the directories, then you can publish your first episode and it will appear everywhere almost immediately. Using a teaser for the RSS submissions makes it much easier to coordinate the timing of your marketing efforts around the first episode of your podcast.

There are more podcast directories than just those listed below, but here are the major ones that you will want to submit to:

1. iTunes
Approximately two thirds of all podcast listening happens on iOS devices. This is primarily because Apple began shipping iPhones with a pre-installed Podcasts app with the introduction of iOS8 in 2014. If you only submit your podcast to one directory, it should be iTunes.

Here are instructions.

2. Google Play Music
According to this year’s Techsurvey13, 28% of North Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, while 48% have never listened to a podcast. Many of us in the podcasting space believe that podcast listening will see a huge jump when Google fully embraces the medium and starts shipping Android phones with a pre-installed podcasts app like Apple does. Unfortunately, there’s no telling when that may happen.

There was a glimmer of hope last year when Google incorporated podcasts into their Google Play Music app. While this app isn’t responsible for anywhere near the amount of listening as the Apple Podcasts app, you’ll want your podcast in it just in case Google suddenly decides to embrace podcasting.

Submit your podcast here.

3. Stitcher
When the Stitcher mobile app was acquired by Scripps in 2016, it was the second largest source of podcast listening behind Apple — though it was a very very very distant second. Take a few minutes to submit your RSS feed to the Stitcher directory.

Get more info here.

4. TuneIn
TuneIn’s bread and butter is streaming radio, not podcasts. But it’s the default app for the audio on the Amazon Echo, so if your listeners say “Alexa, play the WKRP podcast,” you’ll increase the chances of it being found if you’ve submitted your RSS feed to the TuneIn directory.

Submit your podcast here.

5. iHeartRadio
iHeartMedia got serious about podcasting when they hired Chris Peterson, a smart guy with experience at The Blaze, TuneIn, and in terrestrial radio. Chris, who was on our Executive Roundtable panel at this year’s Podcast Movement conference, is leading an effort to turn iHeartRadio into a directory that provides podcasters with analytics.

Submit your podcast here.

6. Spotify
Spotify has quietly been making moves that suggest it wants to become a player in the podcasting space. At the moment, submission to the Spotify directory doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get into the app, but it’s worth a try. Plus, you’ll want to be there if and when they do fully embrace podcasting.

Ask Spotify to consider your podcast here.

Also: Post a Direct Link to Your RSS Feed
It’s also wise to include a direct link to your podcast’s RSS feed on your website. This allows experienced podcast listeners to manually subscribe in the podcast app of their choice or in any other manner they choose.

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

This One WordPress Plugin Is Responsible for 16% of Our Website Pageviews

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

As radio broadcasters, we don’t give much thought to recycling our content. The medium is fleeting; we do an on-air break, and then it disappears into the ether. Once we wrap up a show, we’re looking ahead to the next one.

But the internet gives us an opportunity to recycle evergreen content. People may still want to hear last year’s interview with Beyonce, Jim Gaffigan, or the local quarterback. By resurfacing that content — putting it back in front of our listeners — we can get more life out of it.

I’ve written about using automated email campaigns to recycle evergreen content, and how search engines like Google can also send people to your website content long after it’s been published. But social media can also be used for this purpose. We’ve seen that with our own blog.

When we relaunched the Jacobs Media website last year, I installed a WordPress plugin called “Revive Old Post.” It takes older blogposts that meet certain criteria and randomly reshares them on our social media accounts a few times a day. It recycles our content on autopilot; we don’t have to lift a finger.

When I first installed the plugin, Fred noticed right away. “Why is this post getting a bunch of views? I wrote it weeks ago!” he would say. Sure enough, some of our blogposts would see more traffic after getting reshared by the plugin than they did when they were initially published.

Earlier this week, I was reviewing our Google Analytics data and crunched some numbers. Since the launch of the new site, the Revive Old Post plugin has been responsible for about 16% of all of our pageviews. Simply installing a plugin that recycles older content has given our website a noticeable boost in traffic!

Your station should also develop a strategy to recycle content on social media. It could provide an easy traffic increase.

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

How to Add a Cover Video to Your Radio Station’s Facebook Page

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

This Spring, Facebook began experimenting with allowing users to add a cover video to their Facebook business pages. The feature is now available to all pages. To see an example, check out the Jacobs Media Facebook page.

Adding a video is simple: Navigate to your Facebook page, click the “Change Cover” link in the upper left corner of your cover photo and choose one of the video options. (You can find more detailed instructions here.)

The optimal dimensions for the video are 820 by 456 pixels and the video must be at least 820 by 312 pixels. If you are using a video editing program that doesn’t allow you to create a video with custom dimensions — my version of iMovie didn’t — don’t worry, you can drag an oversized video to the optimal position; it just takes some trial and error. (That’s actually the seventh incarnation of our cover video that you see on our page.)

The video must be between 20 and 90 seconds long. For our video, I looped a 9-second video to make it 27 seconds long, then uploaded it.

If you don’t have an experienced video producer on staff, you can always cheat the way I do: Create a Powerpoint slideshow with fancy transitions, export it as a movie file, import it into video editing program and add music and sound effects. You’d be surprised how far a couple of swooshes and a “Ken Burns Effect” can go!

As always, make sure you have the rights to any music or images you use in your cover video. You don’t want to run into any legal issues.

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

Social Media Is for Traffic Spurts; Google Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

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 talk to radio stations about ways to increase incoming traffic to their website content, they inevitably focus on social media. While social media is an important channel for driving people to your website, it’s only one of the channels available. Another equally (if not more) important channel is search engines — especially Google. Yet all too often radio stations overlook the importance of search engines.

There is a difference between the web traffic that comes from social media and the traffic that comes from search engines. In my experience, social media can result in erratic spikes when a blog post goes viral, but it’s difficult to predict or recreate. Search engine traffic, on the other hand, is steady and, over time, predictable.

On our website, Fred Jacobs writes a daily radio industry blog. From time to time, we invite guest authors to write a “Top 5” list for us. The feature, called “The Guest List,” has proven to be very popular. In fact, several of these guest posts have gone viral on social media immediately after being published.

But the Guest List post from morning DJ Sheri Lynch (WLNK/Charlotte) — one half the Bob & Sheri show — is different. In January, we published a column by Sheri titled, “The Top 5 Radio Topics That Get the Phones Ringing.” On the day it went live, it performed well. But then something unusual happened…

Several months later, Fred pointed out that the column was continuing to show up in our list of top posts. Every day, Sheri’s list would get several dozen pageviews. And to this day, while other posts come and go, Sheri’s shows remarkable consistency.

I dug a little deeper and discovered that the incoming web traffic for the post is coming from Google. People are searching for variations on “good phone topics for radio,” and Google is sending them to Sheri’s column.

While nobody knows exactly what Google’s search results algorithm is, we know it looks for signs that people like what they see when they click on a particular result (for example, a low bounce rate). Once Google determines that a particular piece of content does, in fact, do a good job of addressing people’s search queries, it continually sends people there. This is what is happening with Sheri’s post. Every day, Google sends more people to it.

Source: Google Analytics (Jan 1 – Aug 3, 2017)

Over time, that incoming traffic adds up. Sheri’s guest post is now our most popular blogpost for 2017 and our second most popular webpage behind our homepage. That trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

There’s a lesson in Sheri’s post: When you sit down to think about how you can drive more people to your radio station’s website, don’t focus solely on social media while forgetting about search engines. Social media can deliver a nice one-time boost, but for reliable traffic day in and day out, search engines are key.

You can find our Search Engine Optimization resources here.

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

You’re Launching a New Radio Morning Show. Here’s Your Station’s Digital Plan.

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

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 far and away 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 Twitter and Instagram 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 strongly recommend using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck 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
  • Bloggers
  • 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:


Here are detailed instructions
.

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.

Here are more details on how you can create an RSS-to-Email campaign.

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.”

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.

Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to share your shownotes posts.

3) Plug the Shownotes posts and the email list on the air.

In additon 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.

4) 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.”

Watch the webinar here.

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

7 Digital Mistakes Radio Stations Make That Can Hurt Event Ticket Sales

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

Summer concert season is now in full swing and many radio stations around the country have been hard at work booking their own festivals. These events can be a significant source of non-traditional revenue for radio stations. Yet many radio stations will make digital mistakes that prevent them from selling more tickets and making more money. Here are some of those common mistakes and tips on how your radio station can avoid them:

1. Radio stations don’t pay enough attention to the event’s landing page on the website.
If you are selling tickets to your radio station’s big event, the webpage that tells listeners about that event is incredibly important. Think of it as a two-step process:

  1. Drive people to the station’s event page.
  2. When they get there, get those people to buy tickets.

Too many radio stations focus on the first step and ignore the second. If the station event’s webpage doesn’t make people want to buy tickets, it doesn’t matter how many people see it. Review this page on your site and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this page have all the necessary details about the concert: Performers? Date? Time? Location including address? Price? Age restrictions? Parking instructions?
  • Does the page have a big, bright button that says “Buy Tickets” which makes the call to action really obvious?
  • Does the page feature an embedded audio promo for those baby bands that listeners don’t know by name? (“Oh, they do that song!”)
  • Have you removed all other links except the “Buy Tickets” button, including the sidebar and main menu? (This is called a “squeeze page” because it drives people towards a single action.)

When designing your station’s event page, here’s a checklist to guide you. You can also test the effectiveness of your radio station’s event page with a website usability test.

2. Radio stations don’t make it easy to get to the event page.
Radio stations often promote their big concert by including it as the first slide in the slideshow on their homepage, but nowhere else. My official position is that the homepage slideshow is an abhorrent feature that should be abolished from every music radio station website in America. But even if you’re not willing to go that far, it’s important to recognize that just including the concert in the slideshow isn’t enough. For starters, after a few seconds, the slide switches and now there’s nothing on your homepage to direct people to the event page.

To fix this, make sure there’s a link to the event page in your site’s main menu. Also, make sure that the concert listings page has a big, obvious link to the station event page. I strongly recommend including a link to the station event page at the top of the website sidebar. I would also use some of the website ad inventory to advertise the station event. Finally, consider using pop-up windows to promote the station concert. (Be cautious — we don’t want this to turn into a slippery slope that leads to the sales department selling pop-up ads for discount mattress stores.)

You can find out if listeners are having a hard time getting to the station concert page by running a website usability test.

3. Radio stations send listeners directly to the ticketing agency’s webpage.
Some radio stations direct listeners to the event webpage of the ticketing service instead of sending people to a page on their own website. For example, a station might tweet out a link to the “WKRP Big Picnic Concert” page on Ticketmaster’s site. The problem is that the station has very little control over Ticketmaster’s site. It can’t change the designs to make the page more enticing to potential concert goers. And it can’t see any analytics to measure how much traffic it is driving to the tickets page. Whenever possible, you want to drive traffic to your radio station’s website, not somebody else’s. That’s especially true when you have revenue riding on the page.

4. Radio stations flood social media with salesy posts instead of creating compelling content.
People don’t like ads. We go to great lengths to skip them. So when posts pop up in our Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter streams telling us to “Buy tickets now!,” we get annoyed. Typically, these types of blatantly promotional posts don’t perform well on social media.

So what do you do? Create compelling content. If a band is performing at your concert, send the record label a list of written questions for its members. Then publish the answers as a Q&A on your website. In this interview, embed a YouTube video of the band’s latest single. In both the introduction and the conclusion of the interview, mention that the band will be performing at your concert and include a big, bright “Buy Tickets” button.

Now, share this interview on your social media accounts. It’s likely to attract more incoming website traffic than a salesy post and the people it attracts are more likely to be interested enough in the band to go see them perform live.

5. Radio stations focus on social media and ignore other marketing channels.
When radio stations seek my advice for selling more tickets to their concerts, they usually ask about social media to the exclusion of other digital marketing avenues. Social media can be powerful, but it’s only one part of the equation. Make sure that you are also using these channels:

  • Your Airwaves: Create an easy-to-remember vanity URL that redirects to your station concert page, such as wkrp.com/bigpicnic. Use this URL in recorded promos, sweepers and live on-air mentions.
  • Search Engines: People often turn to search engines like Google when looking for information about big radio station concerts. Make sure that you’ve properly optimized your station’s website — especially the station event page — for search engines.
  • Email Blasts: You know that email database you’ve been collecting names for all year? This is why you did it. Email marketing is a crucial component in your concert promotion strategy.
  • Text Messaging: Texting can be an effective way to reach your listeners, but be sure to check with your station’s legal team first. Some broadcasting companies have been fined for violating text message spam laws, so you’ll want to make sure that you don’t run into any issues.

6. Radio stations don’t track their ticket sales efforts with Google Analytics.
Having a website and not looking at its Google Analytics reports is like having a radio station and ignoring the ratings. I noted above that selling tickets is a two-step process: first, you drive people to your event page, then you convert them into ticket buyers. Google Analytics can show you how you’re doing at each stage. Are you attracting people back to your website but not convincing them to buy? Then you need to revise the page (see #1). Are you failing to get people to the website at all? Maybe your social media posts are too salesy (see #3). Use Google Analytics to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy. If you’re new to Google Analytics, here’s a guide for radio programmers.

7. Radio stations don’t put a link for sponsorship inquiries on the station event page.
Tickets sales aren’t the only way to generate revenue from station events; sponsorship dollars are often just as important. Make it easy for potential advertisers who are interested in your event to request sponsorship information. Include a link on the station event page for people to request more information.

If ticket sales for your radio station’s big event are underwhelming, see if you’re making any of these mistakes. A correction could have a significant impact on the bottom line.

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

How to Back Up Your Radio Station’s Soundcloud Files

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

Last week, Soundcloud.com laid off 40% of its workforce — 173 of its 420 employees. Despite having over 175 million users in 2014 (the last year the company released numbers for), the audio hosting website has struggled to find a profitable business model. In 2015, it lost over $50 million. Spotify and Twitter flirted with the idea of acquiring Soundcloud, but neither deal materialized; instead, SiriusXM invested in the company.

I am not in the business of speculating about the future of tech companies. However, so many radio stations use Soundcloud as a means of sharing audio clips — from morning show bits to artist interviews — that I think it’s worth issuing a warning: If your station has important audio files hosted on Soundcloud, make sure that you have them backed up on a local hard drive.

Some tracks can be downloaded by logging into Soundcloud and clicking the small ‘Download’ button beneath the track itself. However, not all tracks are downloadable directly from Soundcloud; it depends on the settings of the user who uploaded the track.

If you don’t see a ‘Download’ button beneath the track, you can use a third party website to download it. This usually involves copying the URL of the track you want to download, pasting it into the other website, and clicking a button to grab the clip. I have found mixed results with these third party sites, but here are a few that worked for me:

  1. Anything2MP3.com
  2. SCDownloader.net
  3. 9SoundcloudDownloader.com

Another option is to install an extension in your web browser that allows you to download Soundcloud tracks. For example, the Soundcloud Downloader Free extension for Google Chrome adds a ‘Download’ button beneath Soundcloud tracks to make it easy to back up your files.

I can’t predict what will happen to Soundcloud, but you can protect your radio station from any unpleasant surprises by taking some time to back up all of your Soundcloud tracks today.

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