If listeners aren’t calling in to a live and local on-air show, or engaging with any of it’s digital content, it’s because they’re being told not to. That can happen a multitude of ways, some very directly, like how they call repeatedly and no one answers or they comment and nobody ever replies. But it can also happen in other subtler ways, they rarely ever hear listener audio on the air, don’t have any incentive to interact with content, or maybe the hosts aren’t bringing them into the conversation by making topics too internal or not leaving room for the listener to engage with the show by covering every angle/potential answer. Either way, we should never give in by saying ‘Listeners just don’t call into this station’ or ‘Listeners don’t interact and engage with this station on social media’. It’s our job to get them to call in to our shows and to engage with our digital content. We shouldn’t get discouraged though, retraining listeners who’ve been taught not to engage requires some heavy lifting, especially in the beginning, and a ton of consistency and discipline. With that in mind, here are a few ways to jumpstart engagement on the phones and on our social/web content.
- Choose content/topics that fit the core demo of the station instead of just the content we want to talk about.
- Create catchy container boxes for that content with marketable/promotable/sponsorable features and benchmarks.
- Work further in advance when possible so we can be strategic about how we tease our content (On-air/Online/Social) and how we drive engagement with our content.
- Seed calls multiple ways (Calls beget other calls, the more listener audio we get on air, the more people will start calling in consistently. No one wants to be the first person at the party.)
- Calls banked ahead of time from friends, coworkers, family, paid (but affordable) local actors, and listeners calling in for other reasons (NOTE: This last one is a big opportunity that many shows miss).
- Audio/Video we collect on our phones while we’re out (Another big missed opportunity. When we’re out and about we should always ask ourselves, ‘Is this an opportunity to interact/engage with listeners or potential listeners to capture content for the show?’)
- Related on-topic audio from celebrities (Not listener audio, but another familiar, but different voice to weigh in).
- Leave room for the listener. I’ve worked with multiple shows over the years that do the exact same segments under slightly different names. Even though their questions/topics are verbatim the same, some get an enormous amount of calls while others get virtually none. That difference isn’t because of the size of the market or the overall popularity of the stations they are on. It’s always the same reason. The show that’s getting a lot of callers leaves room for the listener to engage and conversely the shows that aren’t do not. That’s because, by the time they’re done with the segment and asking listeners to call in, they’ve literally thrown out every potential answer or viewpoint and so there’s nothing left for the listener to add. Great on-air talent show the restraint of leaving some things unsaid to entice the listener.
- The three main keys for getting people to engage/interact with our content once we extend it to the web or social media with videos/blogs/podcasts/other digital content is this. 1) When possible, give them an incentive (Prize) for doing so (The bigger or more exclusive to that engagement the better). 2) Keep it simple. Binary choices generally tend to work better on the web (Either Ors) and the amount of work (Hoops to jump through) we’re asking from them should be in direct proportion to the reward we’re offering them. 3) Find ways to add to what we’ve done on air so there’s a reason to listen/watch/read both.
What do you think? What are some ways you’ve had success jumpstarting engagement on a show/station? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.
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