Here’s my list of 8 things that broadcast stations can do to expand their digital presence for the coming year. It’s not a list of simple fixes – these are ideas that will require investment and dedicated effort.
- Dedicate a full time position to creating online content for your website and stream. This is not the webmaster – not the person who writes the code. I’m hoping most stations already have that person. This is the Director of Digital Content who spends all day every day making your website, stream and various extensions interesting to your audience. The rest of this list has a lot to do with them.
- Put all the local information you provide on your website. I don’t just mean a news feed, I mean all the local stuff you say on-air. And tell your listeners it’s there. Refer your listeners to your website constantly. WCBS AM in New York does a great job with this. They constantly refer to the “Mentioned On Air” section of their website during newscasts, and they have their web guy do a segment every day on-air talking about what’s new and interesting on their site.
- Use Twitter to connect with your audience. Get your audience to follow you on Twitter and then give them information everyday. Local news stories, personal updates from station personalities, information about station promotions, ways to win stuff, even information from your advertisers. Do not use Twitter merely as a way to promote your station – that’s sure to backfire. Instead, use it as a way to deliver relevant information to your audience. Return the follow to everyone that follows you and always include a link to your site.
- Register your listeners online. There’s no reason not to register people who want to listen to your stream. Targeted advertising is the way of the future and it’s coming fast. You should be registering your audience with their age range, email address and gender. Find a platform that makes it easy for them to register and login or stay logged in so it doesn’t make it hard for them to listen to your stream.
- Develop an side channel for your stream. Something that is related to your station’s programming or audience. If you’re a news station, try some Adult Hits. A CHR station could do a kids channel. A rock station could do something edgier, or something that features local artists. There are a bunch of services out there that will develop and brand a side channel for you. You have the audience, why not expand what you’re doing to give them more to listen to and more reasons to love you.
- Stop running broadcast commercials on your stream. Resolve now, once and for all that you will not run any commercials with phone numbers on your stream. That every commercial will have an interactive call to action. Visit our website, click on the banner now, send a text to xxx and we’ll send you a link. Those are the ways that your streaming audience wants to interact with your advertisers and it’s up to you to make sure advertisers understand how to use your stream effectively.
- Develop a section of your website that supports your advertisers on-air and online campaigns. Let your advertisers list their offers, link to their websites. Then tell your listeners that they can get information on any of the ads they hear on air or online by visiting your website anytime. It will boost sales for your advertisers and boost renewals for your station.
- Get your mobile platform in shape. Consider having an app built that makes it easy for your mobile audience to connect to your stream. Partner with portals that let your listeners connect via their phones – both smartphones and feature phones. Then promote the heck out of it.
To execute this list effectively, station managers must shift their thinking away from the idea that the on-air product is the most important element of their business, and recognize that the content is what matters. The broadcast is simply one way of distributing content. All the other ways matter just as much, and require the same kind of attention. Start thinking like that, and watch your digital presence expand.