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By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies
I am a huge believer in using a Content Marketing strategy to grow your radio station’s audience. The basics are simple: Create a lot of compelling content on your website. Make that content easy to find in search engines and easy to share over social media. Once you draw visitors back to your website with that content, encourage them to take specific actions, such as signing up for your email list, streaming your station or clicking on an ad.
The challenge with a Content Marketing strategy is that you have to create a lot of content. As a general rule of thumb, I’d like to see radio stations create at least three original blogposts or content modules (at least 300 words long) each day. But that’s a lot for radio stations with staff members already pulling double-duty. Am I really suggesting that your midday jock/production director needs to write several posts a week on top of everything else?
There is a way to implement a successful Content Marketing strategy without overtaxing your staff. It’s called “crowdsourcing.” In other words, encourage members of your audience to create content for your website.
Here’s the basic process: On the air, your station recruits people to submit guest content through the website. When listeners go to the website, they submit their content through an online form. This content is then reviewed, edited and published by a station staff member.
In this post, I’ll show you how to do all of this.
To Curate or Not to Curate?
Some online businesses allow anybody to create content and, barring anything that violates the basic guidelines, they publish it all. Think YouTube, Yelp!, etc.
Other businesses crowdsource content, but they are more selective about who they choose and pickier about what they publish. In other words, they curate the content. Think The Huffington Post.
Radio stations will want to implement the latter strategy to varying degrees. You certainly won’t want to publish everything that’s submitted to you without looking at it first. But you may only allow a few regular guest bloggers to submit articles, while you allow anybody to submit a photo as part of a contest.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. A Content Management System (CMS) Website
Your radio station needs a website that is set up to handle lots of content. This means not just that the content can be published, but also easily organized so that your visitors can easily search and find what they want. My website platform of choice — whether you are stand-alone small market station or a multi-billion dollar media conglomerate — is WordPress. Over 60 million websites are built in WordPress (including this one) precisely because it was designed with content creation in mind.
But WordPress is not the only suitable Content Management System will do. Here’s more info.
The last thing you want is for listeners to email you Word documents that you then need to paste into your website and format. If you get to the point where you are creating large amounts of content — and that is the point that you want to get to — this will become a huge time-suck. Instead, create a form on the front-end of your website that allows people to submit their content and automatically formats it appropriately. If your station’s site is built in WordPress, I highly recommend the Gravity Forms premium plugin for precisely this reason.
3. Custom Fields and Taxonomies
When you publish content on your website, it’s important you categorize it appropriately so people can easily search for it. Radio stations will want to “tag” their content with certain pieces of information (or taxonomies), such as:
- Type of Content: Interview, Morning Show Bit, Live Performance, etc.
- Artist: Beyonce, Tim McGraw, Passion Pit, etc.
- Air Talent: DJ No Name, J-Squizzles, Dr. Metal, etc.
While WordPress allows you to create Categories and Tags out of the box, I don’t think the default functionality is enough for radio stations. Consider using a premium plugin to allow you to add more taxonomies to your content.
4. An Editorial Calendar and Review Process
As I said earlier, radio stations will want to review and edit most listener-generated content before publishing it to their website. This means you’ll have to map out an actionable review process. Who reviews the content? How often do they review it? What kinds of things are they editing for? How often do they publish the content?
By default, WordPress offers a lot of tools to make this process easier. Posts can be saved with different statuses: Draft, Pending, or Published. For example, posts can be submitted through the form as drafts. The webmaster can review them and upgrade them to pending status. Then the Program Director can review and publish them. WordPress also allows you to schedule posts to be published in the future.
If you find that you need more sophisticated tools to control the editorial process, there are a host of WordPress plugins designed for crowdsourced blogs, such as Edit Flow.
In addition to a process, you’ll also want a calendar so you can see what’s coming up when. I have designed a GoogleDoc template that you can use.
5. A Notification Process
You’re going to want the appropriate staff member to be alerted when a listener submits a new piece of content. And you’re going to want to let that same listener know when their content has been published so that they can share it on social media. The hard way to do this is to write all of those emails yourself. But — you guessed it! — there are also plugins for this. I use Post Status Notifier.
Once you’ve got the system in place, it’s time to go find some content creators in your audience. If you are curating carefully, you may want to conduct a search. For example, find a local blogger who writes movie reviews and set him up with concert tickets in exchange for a weekly blogpost.
At other times, you may want to use your airwaves to cast a wider net. For example, you could create a contest encouraging people to snap a selfie showing how big of an AC/DC fan they are to win tickets. Use recorded promos and live reads to send people to a specific page on your website with an entry form (WKRP.com/ACDC).
So here’s what the final process might look like:
- You find a local blogger to write concert reviews in exchange for tickets.
- After each concert, she submits a review through an online form. Even though the form is on the front-end of the website, it is password protected so that only she can access it.
- Once she submits a review, the webmaster is automatically notified by email. He edits the review and upgrades the blogpost’s status to ‘pending.’
- When the blogpost’s status is upgraded, the Assistant Program Director is automatically notified by email. He reviews the post, makes a few more edits, and schedules it to publish tomorrow.
- When the blogpost is published, the author is automatically notified by email. Both the author and the radio station share the concert review over social media.
Ta-da! You’re regularly producing new content, and you didn’t have to put another task on your overworked midday jock’s plate!
For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.