With the social media revolution, radio audiences are no longer content to just sit and listen to your work. They want to interact! And there are ways to use this to your advantage. Below are a few tips for how radio producers can ride today’s social media wave to extend the reach of your stories AND find even more work.
1. Tell your own story/Make yourself easy to find. Social media is NOT like a non-narrated radio story: you have to put yourself into it. Social media not only amplifies who you are but it can also be useful in your career… if people can find you. Why not use the free real estate available on social media sites to build the story about yourself? Take a few minutes to fill out the About section on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and be sure to post a link to your website. If you don’t have a homepage, try using free sites like WordPress.com, About.me or even your PRX profile. No matter where someone stumbles on your work online, they should be able to easily find more information about you (and be able to contact with you about your dream gig). And for goodness sake, even though you’re a radio producer, add a picture of yourself (even if it’s just your ear)!
2. Wrangle your email inbox. It often seems like Email Overload is the biggest impediment to using social media (i.e. “I don’t have time”). Try some of these tactics to tame your inbox: delete any emails more than 21 days old (you’re not going to respond to these), try to look at new emails only once (respond and delete or archive), set up filters and labels to categorize new messages, change listserve settings to daily digests rather than individual messages, unsubscribe from e-newsletters and follow the senders on Facebook or Twitter. Your goal is “inbox zero”. With fewer email messages weighing you down, the more free you’ll be to use social media. In fact, many people find that social media actually replaces the need for many types of email messages. For more tips, check out the Email Charter.
3. Listen. Social media can be as good as a set of Sony MDR7506 headphones…if you use it wisely. To keep tabs on the world of radio storytelling, “like” the Facebook pages of radio shows and media organizations or “friend”/subscribe to the Facebook profiles of other producers, use a tool like Tweetdeck to follow Twitter conversations with hashtags like #pubmedia, #pubradio, #pubjobs and #radiostory and use Feedly to subscribe to relevant blogs with RSS (“real simple syndication”). Use the same tools for different subjects (i.e. your latest project) to hear what people are already saying.
4. Share strategically. You are what you share on social media. My savvy colleague Deanna Zandt recommends a “30-70 mix”, i.e. 30% of the content you share can be about your work but 70% should be about other people’s stuff that you find interesting or useful. It’s karma: the more you share and curate other people’s work, the more likely they will be to share yours. Use social share buttons on websites and/or cite the Twitter handles of other producers and organizations when you share their work. Once you’ve built trust online, you can ask your networks to help share your work.
Sharing is good.
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5. Make your content more shareable: Write descriptive and enticing (not artsy) titles that hint at the content of your radio story and always always use a visual image. For some more good tips on making things shareable, check out this presentation from Upworthy: “How To Make That One Thing Go Viral.”
6. Build relationships with bloggers. More bloggers are looking for multimedia content for their websites, so why not offer them your latest radio story that relates to the theme of their blog? Video is competing with us for attention so it’s best if your story has an embed code (i.e. placing a SoundCloud track directly on the blog so readers don’t have to click and go somewhere else to listen). To connect with bloggers, comment, email and/or tweet them.
7. Make your stories easy to find. To help more people find and hear your work, categorize it with keywords (the tags section on SoundCloud or Youtube). On Twitter, use hashtags that relate to the story’s subject so it gets seen in those information streams (i.e. locations like #capecod, industry-specific tags like #musicnews, etc. Use Google to find others).
8. Find your social media style: No one can be everywhere online so experiment and see what tools you like best. This will change the more you learn about new tools and how they work.
9. Measure & evaluate: It’s important to monitor what is the most successful stuff that you share. You’ll quickly get a sense from your networks what they like and want more of. For more on this, check out Beth Kanter’s new book on measurement.
10. Unplug: This is something I struggle with but it’s vital for not getting overwhelmed by a digital info tsunami. For example, I try to switch off my computer at 8:00pm each night, drive with my iPhone in the trunk, ignore my iPhone during meals and take a “Digital Sabbath” on the weekend (well, at least during church). Unplugging from time to time means you’ll have fresh ideas and perspectives.
So what do you think of these tips? Do you have others to add? Please leave a comment below and/or share this post with others.
About Will Coley
Will Coley is a latte-drinking, bike-riding, taco-loving, media-making social justice do-gooder originally from North Carolina now living in Los Angeles. Will has been an advocate and organizer with immigrants and refugees in Charlotte, New York/Newark, and Los Angeles, as well as in Zimbabwe and Great Britain, for organizations including Catholic Charities – Charlotte, American Friends Service Committee, and Jesuit Refugee Service USA. Through Aquifer Media, Will now designs social media content strategies and digital storytelling for groups such as Public Interest Projects, Freedom from Fear awards, Appalachian Carbon Partnership and Detention Watch Network. Will is a graduate of Wake Forest University and has a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University. In 2011, he participated in the first-ever Transom Radio Story Workshop. In 2012, Will was selected as a SoundCloud Community Fellow to develop the Working Now project.