I spend a lot of time rooting around the Internet looking for various things. In the case of this blog, I continually seek out positive radio stories, particularly those centered on the evolution of radio in the age of social media. Since I make my living as a blogger and social media consultant, I also tend to keep tabs on what is happening in my industry as a matter of course.
Today I get to combine the two. You see, Chris Brogan, the man who personifies social media expertise to those in the know, recently blogged about his experiences attending Boston radio station WBUR’s “Tweet-ups.” Now the fact that WBUR is hosting Tweet-ups in the first place is great news, it means they are really taking the bull by the horns and embracing social media and the enhanced level of interactivity it gives them.[WBUR Post on the first 2009 Tweet Up]
Now, I have constantly made a point of emphasizing the use of digital tools and new media as integral to the evolution of radio as a medium. Allow me to share some of Mr. Brogan’s thoughts and questions on the matter. Keep in mind this is coming from one of the sharpest and most well known voices in the field of social media as he talks a bit about WBUR and its ongoing program of leveraging web 2.0 tools.
Via Chris Brogan’s Blog:
Because once we know the face behind the voice, it’s a lot harder not to want to see the institution survive and thrive.
Will the walls of public radio become porous and let in more two-way experiences? I believe that’s where lots of media experiences will shift. We’ve seen the host-caller model for decades. What comes next (perhaps) is dozens of hosts and a few curators, plus the ability to interact at different levels. We see this last piece realized in the frequent use of, “For more information, visit WBUR.org and click on ‘news’” types of moments in broadcasts.
By the way, want a sign that WBUR gets it? Check out Inside WBUR. Front and center of the page? A Flickr photo slideshow of what? Mostly people visiting WBUR during these social outreach events.
This station is using Flickr (the source of all the Creative Commons images I use to illustrate my posts), Twitter, blogs, and is hosting face to face meetups with the community developed using these tools. This sort of wholesale adoption is something other stations should observe and consider emulating, WBUR has not missed beat. If you want to take a look at what a solid stance in social media should look like for radio station check out the WBUR- In Focus page. They present the ability for listeners to interact with the station on that listener’s preferred platform. Only use MySpace? No problem, WBUR is there. Facebook? Likewise. YouTube? You betcha!
It is such a simple thing, find a way for listeners to interact in whatever way and on whatever level they wish. It’s all about the conversation, social media is merely a variety of new ways to communicate and expand that conversation. As Chris Brogan points out, since public stations like WBUR rely on listener contributions, allowing more opportunities for those donations to be made is extremely important.
The lessons seen here easily translate to non public radio, after all it is radio’s engagement with its audience that is important. Ratings are one direct metric of the importance of this audience loyalty. It is vitally important to remember that the conversation, not the application, is the important part. An honest, human interaction is the one essential component of making social media work. Without that, it rapidly becomes perceived as SPAM.
Photo courtesy of Chris Brogan, used by permission