The decision to promote your radio station digitally is just the first step in online marketing. Next, you’ll need to define strategy and tactics as the makings of a plan to get the word out about your station. Marketing in the online world isn’t philosophically different than the traditional marketing you’ve done to promote your station — you still conduct various activities in order to get more listeners to your station. The tactics and media are different, though, and it will require a new skillset to promote your station through digital channels.
How to promote your station through digital channels
Here are 18 tried-and-true tips that radio stations can use to promote their businesses via online and social media channels:
Submit your station to radio directories: There are plenty of places online that provide an opportunity for radio stations to get discovered. Submit your station to Nobex Radio and the dozens of other radio directories online. Some of these directories have their own radio apps where new listeners may find your station and tune in to your stream.
Drive AM/FM listeners to your mobile app: Mentioning your website or mobile apps on the air for terrestrial listeners is probably the most effective strategy for radio stations that choose to market digitally. If you have an offline audience, create opportunities to encourage listeners to go and download your station’s app or head to your station’s website.
Encourage reviews in mobile app stores: Mobilizing existing users of your radio station’s mobile apps is an effective strategy to get more users downloading the app. That’s because you can prompt users to leave reviews of your app in the Google Play and Apple App stores. Then, when their friends and other users from their cities go to iTunes, it’s possible they will be hit with a positive review of your app. Friend recommendations go a long way to help people determine which apps to download.
Create and distribute posters and flyers: There’s nothing wrong with handing out, posting, or mailing flyers that promote your station’s website or mobile apps. They’re easy. Consider using a simple graphic design tool like Canva — it’ll make it look like you had the promotion professionally done.
Work on your search engine optimization: SEO is a marketing strategy that tweaks the content of your website, as well as its organization and design, to maximize discovery by users in search engines and app stores. Make sure your content in your apps and website does an effective job in richly describing your station. The better your SEO, the more discoverable you can be for people searching for stations like yours.
Run viral contests: Contests are traditionally powerful tools to boost audience and drive listener engagement. Games and giveaways reward the most loyal listeners. To drive usage of your radio mobile apps, consider running mobile-only contests, available only to those users on mobile. There are plenty of ideas for viral contests that run on Facebook that will not only engage listeners but help to get the word out about your station. Getting listeners to respond to posts or upload their own pictures to win some swag is a powerful promotional tool.
Participate in social media: Social media is an important tool to identify and connect with new listeners. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have proven useful for stations to grow their audiences and communicate with their listeners. That said, regular posting on social media requires discipline and diligence, so don’t start until you’re ready. Try to pair the right choice of social network to your audience — a jazz station, for example, might choose Facebook, but not Twitter, based on where it believes its listeners are active,
Pay for Facebook listener acquisition: You can participate on social media for free, building your community and new listener pipeline organically. Or, you can pay social networks like Facebook to help you acquire new listeners. You can do a variety of things with a paid strategy, like run campaigns that get likes to your Facebook page, drive traffic back to your website, and get users to download your radio station’s mobile apps.
Define a content strategy: The way people communicate may have changed but radio is still a form of media. It just means that growth plans for radio stations have to take in to account messaging and content strategies across multiple platforms — not just through the air. So, active radio stations are publishing blogs, participating on Facebook, posting to Instagram, and have Whatsapp groups to message their audiences. You can create content to share with other sites in your niche, too. Create a strategy that fits your audience and stick with it.
Check out how California-based station RAD Radio approaches content and community. RAD has a vibrant Facebook community, with over 75,000 members. Members of the staff post regularly to Instagram. The station offers Android and iOS mobile apps (built and managed on the Nobex Partners platform) for its audience to connect through mobile. It also publishes some of its content in podcast form.
The station also offers a members-only section of its website for hardcore fans, too. RAD is a good example of a modern radio station — one whose core content may be audio, but it’s certainly running a community across different types of media.
Cross promotion with partners: Recommendations drive today’s consumption of media. Consider finding a media partner — like a local newspaper or TV station — with whom you can embark on mutual promotional campaigns. Or, a local retailer might be a good way to cross promote. In return for them promoting your radio station in store, you can promote their products or sales. These cross promotions don’t necessarily have to cost money. With some partners, you can barter your way to growing awareness.
Calls to action get listeners to share: Your listeners are busy and most likely, even if they love your station, not actively sharing out your content. Here’s the secret: you have to ask them to share. Marketers describe this as a ‘call to action’ — a CTA is a request for a user to take a specific behavior. If you want your listeners to share content on your website or mobile apps, you have to first ask them to.
Adopt email marketing: With so much noise out there, email is still effective in getting a listener’s attention. On Facebook, your station can get lost among all your users’ other activities. But an email still feels somewhat personal and it’s delivered into some of the only remaining private space we have — our inboxes. Build an email list from contests, by offering downloads, and promote it on social media. Use email sparingly and smartly and email is a great way to grow and market your station.
Start a podcast: Podcasts, as an audio format, are enjoying an early Renaissance as a medium. High quality shows are being produced by some of the biggest names in media. Podcasts seem like an obvious channel for radio stations to promote themselves.
For example, you can see how WBBM FM, a CBS news affiliate in Chicago, offers podcasts of specific popular shows and personalities. To get started, you can repurpose existing shows into podcast format so listeners can time shift their consumption. Over time, consider creating new programming specifically for the podcast format. (The Nobex Partners platform enables radio stations to archive their programs so that listeners can access the shows where and when they want. It’s called On-Demand, available via our paid plans, and a good way to start podcasting.
Implement an influential guest strategy: A great technique to growing a digital audience is to identify people with large overlapping audiences and invite them on a show. You’ll get great content and in turn, your guest will likely share out his interview with his audience. It’s a win-win. Don’t forget to ask your guests to share your programs on their different social media channels.
Participate on Reddit/Forums: There are an infinite number of forums out there where your target audience spends time. One of the most popular places for younger listeners is Reddit, a modern form of forums where people link to interesting things, discuss topics, share pictures, and vote on interesting content.
Reddit offers what are called subreddits, or niche forums, that are maintained by moderators. You can participate in others’ subreddits or start and maintain your own. See, for example, the /rock subreddit. Over 10k people are subscribed and review, share, and discuss the genre. An expert opinion from a PD or radio exec could go a long way.
Market your station at events: Our online and offline worlds are blurring and all the data show that people are hungry for real-world connections. That’s why events are still a great way to build community and promote your radio station. You’ll have the attention of your audience, so plan out your messaging. If you want to promote specific shows or your website or your mobile apps during your event, prepare signage or handouts and make sure you mention your marketing messages multiple times during the event.
Start an influencer marketing program: 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by recommendations in their buying decisions. Your audience today looks to celebrities, their peers, and other influencers for suggestions of what to watch, what to listen to, and what to buy. You can tell them a thousand times that they should spend more time listening to your station but that message would pale in comparison to having a celeb promote you.
Identify some influencers with brands that match your own. Reach out to them to see if there are ways you can work together. With some influencers, you’ll be able to barter by offering them some promotional air on your station. Others you’ll need to pay. As with any type of marketing, make sure your pitch matches the style and interest of the person you’re pitching.
PR/local news coverage: Ah, the lure of PR. Create something newsworthy and get it in front of a local reporter. It’s as simple as that. It’s worth creating an email list comprised of local reporters and periodically reaching out to them to tell them what you’re working on. You’re the expert in your field and your audience and people like them want to hear from you. In fact, 6% of buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders.
What do you do to promote your radio station online and through social media?