In 2014, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that you, community radio person, have an idea of the power and value of social media.
From the Arab Spring to professional sports, chances are your perception of the news has been altered in some way by either social media or how the larger public dialogue is influenced by it. Music and arts scenes are no exception. In some ways, these areas are even more heavily shaped by the access and intimacy social media creates for fans.
The basic question, then, is what exactly is social media?
For the purposes of community radio, the term social media refers to platforms that allow you to foster deeper relationships with your listeners.
Websites like Twitter and Google Plus give you a chance to let listeners in on the moments they can’t otherwise get on the air. This access is more important than it was 20 years ago. In the era of reality television and media personalities who share anything and everything about themselves and their work, the behind-the-scenes photos, conversations and video are not only liked, but expected.
Emotion is powerful. When listeners see and feel something about what you do, they’re more inclined to give, to talk about you to friends, and think of you in their long-range plans. TV shows, websites, journalists and musicians understand the weight such feelings have, and thus engage in social media.
I regularly encounter a few people for whom not being on social media personally may be a point of pride. While I can’t stress enough this sort of irrelevancy is not something to be particularly proud of, the extended truth is that your community radio station can’t afford not to be there. I can hurl statistics about social media penetration and brand awareness rooted in social media all day, but look no further than your listeners, their kids and prominent organizations in your city and state. Chances are, they’ll tell you how meaningful social media is to them.
So, how can you get started?
Creating an account for your community radio station, if it doesn’t exist already, is quite basic. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s simplest to pick a URL and use it consistently (call letters and city, for example) across platforms. Some stations find it easier to choose one to four of the dozens of platforms to start with and do them well.
Facebook Pages are easy to set up and attractive because so many listeners tend to be on Facebook. If you have a lot of photos and a smartphone that does video, Youtube and Instagram may become your platforms of choice.
It’s smart to have a conversation with others in your organization to decide the social media that works best for you. Don’t just jump in without a clear set of objectives. You will save time and missteps by planning before you leap.
There is content all over your community radio station! Maybe you have photos of pledge drives, or clips of in-studio performances. Share that extra part of an interview that did not make your broadcast. For the user, social media is about sharing personal moments with friends and family. For the community radio station, social media is an opportunity to build on the love your audience has for your programming, and new audiences have with what they see in you.
Taking the dive into social media requires conscious and deliberate focus by your community radio station. We’ll go beyond the why and the fundamentals and into strategy in Part Two (which will be posted here, on the NFCB blog, next week). Stay tuned!