Lessons from NPR

National Public Radio announced this week that they’ll be launching a new social networking feature that will enable listeners to register, comment on shows, and network with other listeners and show hosts.

Connecting with their audience

“We are providing a forum for infinite conversations on NPR.org,” said Dick Meyer, NPR’s Editorial Director of Digital Media in the company’s announcement blog post. “We want NPR employees to participate and talk about their work.”

There’s good reason to pay close attention to what NPR does in the digital space. They are enormously successful in their online and broadcast endeavors – according to BusinessWeek here, NPR stations combined had 31.3 million weekly listeners in spring 2008, a 3 percent increase from the same period a year earlier….Online traffic is also up. According to comScore, NPR.org had 2.6 million unique visitors in August, a 78 percent increase from a year earlier. They are one of, if not the most prolific supplier of podcast content on iTunes.

Connecting their audience to their programming

NPR claims that they are late to the social networking game, but among radio broadcasters they are quite innovative. With this new social networking tool, their purpose is to create a forum for their community, which they say “is made up of the people who work here, the people who work at member stations, the people who listen to NPR on the radio, the people who use NPR.org and the people who support NPR.”

It’s a great way to solidify relationships with listeners…creating an online community where radio hosts and personalities, listeners and supporters (how about advertisers?) can create profiles, share ideas, discuss programming and more sounds like a stroke of genius to me.

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