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Social Media and Community Radio: Part II

By December 16, 2014August 9th, 2019Digital Strategy

In Part One – “does social media matter for community radio?” – I explored what social media is and why it matters. Now it’s time to move on to vision.

In some cases, community radio stations have a social media presence. The problem is, it’s often not very good, is under-utilized or just not taken seriously. There are lots of reasons why. Some of you may be offenders in the rarely-updated-social-media camp. Maybe you don’t see the point, or think other tasks are more important. 

Let me stress to you that social media is your most inexpensive form of outreach and advertising with a potentially massive reach to new audiences, and little you do short of fund drive or FCC/CPB compliance is more important. Put another way, you have countless photos, videos, audio snippets and testimonials each day. You can choose to become part of the tapestry of faded memories, or become part of your audience’s new memories.

Beyond continuously cultivating audience ties and potential donors, social media presents a profound yet overlooked potential: recasting the way listeners perceive your station.

Consider for a moment the subjects, brands and media people pick up on through social media. The fact is social media is ascendant, and awareness of your radio station among new audiences is very likely going to be through Facebook, Twitter and the content you share there. Moreover, every community radio station is looking for a jolt of new energy, donors and youth. What better, more affordable way of visioning your community radio station as a hub for your city’s music, arts and cultural scenes than sharing the many people that come through your doors, outreach opportunities you’re at, and space you devote to creative endeavors via social media?

Sounds grand, yes? Then how do you do it? Getting into social media requires your community radio station to have a strategy of what you want to get out of your effort, who will lead it, and how you will do it.

First, decide what your social media objectives are. Do you want to give listeners the idea that your station is the go-to place for local music? Or maybe that breaking news is your bag? Or that you have your ear to emerging scenes? Choose carefully and think through how you can demonstrate it.

For instance, at KPFT, we wanted to highlight our support of local indie rock/pop music, which we don’t feature as heavily as we could on the schedule but still represents a fresh listening base. We initiated a Song of the Day on our morning show, highlighting local performers, and used Twitter and Facebook (via tools like Hootsuite and Buffer) to schedule postings aimed at promoting the music, and creating awareness that we are a radio station that uses its muscle to give a venue to up-and-coming acts. The results were great! Listeners who originally come to community radio for music discovery hear about new local sounds, the musicians who might have thought us not into their scene found a new ally, and the audiences who might have not been as into radio learned about us. Those musicians and audiences represent our next line of members through new relationships fostered with small efforts that make a tremendous impact.

Your community radio station may have one lead, as I am at my station, to bottom-line social media strategy and deputize volunteers who help. Or maybe you have a different model. Whatever the case, it’s important to make sure everyone knows who is responsible for posting, tweeting and so on, the frequency, and what is and isn’t allowed. We generally don’t allow posts that go far beyond station programming, sponsorships and the like. We also try to do creative posts, and use images often. Think through how you want your team to use social media, how things get posted, and routed for reply.

All the other ducks in a proverbial row? Now it’s about doing it. There needs to be a daily application of your strategy. It can’t be once or twice a week. Make it a part of your daily activities, through live interaction or scheduled posting.

Social media is one of those great new frontiers for community radio. Planning and vision will go a long way toward making it the best experience possible.

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