Radio stations have a unique advantage in creating tribes around their on-air product, online community entrepreneur Lacie Larschan says.

Of course, you’re already communicating with your audience online, but do you also let your listeners communicate with each other? Lacie Larschan of RumbleTalk shares her views on increasing audience engagement and brand loyalty in this guest post. Rather than having a conversation on external platforms, facilitate a listener dialogue on your platform. One possible way is adding a chat function to your station’s homepage.


‘Is that really the extent of listener engagement?’



Radio listeners sending you messages is one-way; not two-way communication (image: Thomas Giger)

Instead of just one-way communication, two-way traffic is the most powerful interaction (image: Thomas Giger)



Engage on air & online

Radio stations organically garner a listener community, but their challenge is determining the most effective tools & strategies to engage listeners online and add extra value to their online presence. By using common social platforms to bring listeners to the station’s website, as mentioned in Why Radio Needs To Think & Act Big NOW, personalities can help develop an online community to increase audience commitment.



call-to-action-clipart-call-now-phone-icon-01Continue phone-ins with listeners

Before the Internet became the bedrock of communication, listeners would often call into radio stations. While it was the best option for the time, it was limited to how many lines were open, and how many people were available to take those calls. Once the lines were full – busy tone. Today, the issue has flipped. Instead of having a limit on how much engagement is even possible, social media has made engaging listeners an uphill climb.



Build an interactive homepage

Conversations are spread across platforms. Facebook users are having a Facebook conversation; Twitter users are having a Twitter discussion, not to mention a plethora of other niche sharing platforms. Competing distractions surround each piece of content. Meanwhile, many station sites have become nothing more than a digital highway billboard. Standard practice is a ‘Contact’ page with a form for listeners to send an email, but is that really the extent of listener engagement?



‘Once the water has reached the crops, you should already have seeds in place’



Make your website interesting and engaging before you start promoting it (photo: Flickr / AgriLife Today, Kay Ledbetter)

Make your site interesting & engaging before you start promoting it (photo: Flickr / AgriLife Today, Kay Ledbetter)



Grow your audience everywhere

Rather than relying on the rented space of social media, you want to build up interactive tools on your website to engage your audience. Think of your online social tools as an irrigation system. The water is your audience, and the crops are your station (and your site). Your crops will grow if they can get water. It’s the job of your irrigation system; of your social media, to guide the water to the crops.



young-woman-holding-smartphone-teenage-girl-holding-mobile-02Turn listeners into stars

Social media are right for many marketing aspects. They’re great to talk about your audience, as Fred Jacobs mentioned in an article called Mobile & Social Are It on this website, and a wonderful tool to remind your fans that you’re still their favorite radio station. While your social media strategy should be focused on accomplishing these two priorities, it doesn’t have to be the end of your listener engagement efforts.



Make your website exciting

Once the water has reached the crops, you should already have seeds in place. In other words, once your audience is on your website, what will keep them there? Having general information on your site is fine. It serves a purpose and is beneficial to listeners. However, radio naturally builds communities, and most listeners are online anyway. Considering this, you have a unique advantage to facilitate an online community, and as a result increase active participation and brand loyalty.



‘Your radio station won’t be directly competing with Kim Kardashian’s latest break-the-Internet phenomenon’



Funnel your listeners from social media to your website, and 'lock them in' as long as possible (photo: Flickr / Eva Rinaldi)

Funnel your listeners from social platforms to your site to keep them off social media (photo: Flickr / Eva Rinaldi)



Increase your online value

A couple of years ago, the benefits of engaging consumers online were examined in an empirical study, titled Managing Brands and Customer Engagement in Online Brand Communities, published in the Journal of Service Management. As a brand engages consumers online, those consumers (or in this case, listeners) return participation and feedback to the brand and to other consumers. This adds value to the experience, as it will provide future listeners with even more information & engagement opportunities.



102-7-kiis-fm-logo-website-2014-01Drive your homepage traffic

The more value the online experience has for the consumer, the deeper the loyalty (and thus commitment, recommendations, etc.) the consumer has for the brand. Therefore, the potential of your station’s website to be more valuable for your listeners and generate greater commitment from your fans is huge! Centralising this engagement in one location gives you more control of what content you can put in front of them.



Facilitate your audience’s conversation

When listeners are on your site, they are focused on your content, and ready to participate with you. In this moment, your station won’t be competing with the next Facebook post of Kim Kardashian’s latest break-the-Internet phenomenon. The potential for radio sites to be a hub for the listener community is enormous! So your main online portal should include engaging features for radio listeners to actively participate.



‘Deepen the sense of community, and lift the workload from your team’



Group chat could make your website more interactive without much action from your part (image: RumbleTalk)

Group chat could make your website more interactive without much action from your part (image: RumbleTalk)



Combine B2C and C2C

You should have avenues for both business-to-consumer and customer-to-customer interaction, including instant interaction tools such as group chat. Allowing your listeners to engage not just with you, but also with each other, will deepen the sense of community that will drive returning visits, and lift the workload from your team to respond to each interaction. Become a favourite spot for lovers of music (or current affairs) to engage with the authorities on music (or news-talk) topics, and with others who share the same interest or who love the same station!


This is a guest post by Lacie Larschan, CMO of RumbleTalk, edited by Radio))) ILOVEIT