How Radio Producers Can Make the Most of Social Media

January 15th, 2013 | by Will Coley

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, 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)!

Image provided by Shutterstock

Image provided by Shutterstock

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.

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 (i.e. read more from Chris Abraham on blogger outreach).

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.

photo of Will Coley

Will Coley

@WillColey 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.

16 Comments on “How Radio Producers Can Make the Most of Social Media”

  • I would like to believe that the 30/70 rule works, but it’s never paid off for me. I have been practicing this concept for years. I have promoted other people’s work like crazy. On my Twitter. My Facebook. My various blogs. I can think of one time I ever got reciprocation (it was from the site Economists Do it With Models, back when it was still a nascent blog). Once!

    Perhaps it is because my work isn’t worth linking to. I suppose that could be it, all I know is it is very nice idea but it never seems to pay off. Not from big guns and not from other early-career creators, either.

    A lot of this other advice is good. The Blogger Cultivation seems like a good approach – tho it’s tough. I have a really hard time finding blogs that cover the content I’m interested in. It’s weird. It’s one of those things that Google doesn’t seem to be great at. When I go looking, I just tend to find a lot of link baity crud.

    It also seems like if you are a media creator, you should know how much you appreciate it when people respond to your work. If you’re a creator, no doubt you are consuming a lot of media, too. So leave the people you like a comment! Rate them on itunes! Tweet about them! They will appreciate it as much as you appreciate it, and your comments may score you a few hits, too. Especially in blog comments (like this one).

  • Kerstin Zilm says:

    Thanks Will, I really appreciate the advice and recommendations. I still feel overwhelmed getting to do it all while also taking a Digital Sabbath. Maybe by starting to delete all the old Emails – but then that also takes time, maybe there is the one phone number in there somewhere that I will need tomorrow to get my Dream Job …
    And I do believe in the Karma of the 30/70 rule

  • L.T. Hanlon says:

    Thanks for this helpful information, Will! Most of these tips would benefit podcasters like me, too.

  • maya mirsky says:

    I like the point about figuring out which bit works for you best. I’ve wasted time on tumblr before I figured out Twitter is my fun place to be. Doesn’t mean I ignore everything else – but I’m more efficient this way and it’s less overwhelming of a time suck.

    • Will Coley says:

      Thanks for the feedback Maya. Yeah I’m more drawn to Twitter than Facebook but I’m also surprised by how much I’m liking Instagram these days. I find that I often experiment with new tools and see what I can learn from them.

      You might also think of connecting some of your social media tools. I like for sending some tweets to Facebook (not all of them since you can’t post as frequently to Facebook and hashtags aren’t welcomed there…).

  • Karen Y. Engel says:

    These were excellent Will! Thank you!

  • Will, I just went from Tweeting as an Indie Producer to Tweeting for a pubradio station-based doc series that I’m producing. I appreciate the tips you gave. (I used Tip #4 to RT ‘em.) Here’s a question: Any insight as to whether people really do believe that a Tweeter “endorses” what they RT? I notice some folks note that “tweets are not an endorsement”. It is confusing to me, because I wouldn’t Tweet anything that I didn’t think merited some kind of notice. Maybe this is just the merchandizing/advertising world spin on Twitter?

    • Will Coley says:

      Thanks Catherine! re: tweeting as endorsement. Some people might assume that a RT or sharing something on Twitter = agreement with the content. But I frequently share things that I might not totally agree with but think that they’re interesting or fuel for discussion. I try to add a comment like “Interesting” or ask “What do you think of this?” to make that clearer. The ultimate goal is conversation, I guess.

  • Hey.A great post! Excuse the sell, but there’s loads more help for radio producers in my book “Essential Tweeting Skills For Radio Stations” if any of you would like to take a look: -

  • djmacuk says:

    Thanks for this article which I got to (from 6000 miles away) because someone else retweeted. I’m a blogging, Twitter and Facebook neophyte and just beginning to understand what works. What I have found helpful is asking friends to guest blog.Every time I get someone to do on my site, the traffic spikes, mainly because they tell their networks, family and friends. Mind you, I’ve only been blogging for 5 weeks, so don’t know if that will continue.

    I really like suggestion number 10: Unplug. It’s great to be free of the digital shackles for a little while.

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