How To Get Big, Big Numbers

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(By Ryan Wrecker) What do you think would happen if radio published digital metrics (like podcast downloads) the same way Nielsen and Eastlan post 12+ station ratings? (We now have to rely on secondhand reporting for digital numbers.) What if our web traffic were ranked the same way stations participate in a Miller Kaplan market revenue analysis? After all, Nielsen already measures the audience of our on-air signal across computers, smartphones, tablets, and connected devices.

I’m not sold on the idea that we should only be held accountable to our own standards. I think if we could see the number of podcast downloads for the guys across the street, it would bring out the competitive nature in programmers and personalities — and drive us to do better. It would even help us gauge where we stand as an industry. How can we expect to grow digitally if we are afraid to share our progress reports? Imagine what could be achieved if we knew where we stand relative to our peers in our market, and in the industry.

I’m concerned by the lack of digital information-sharing in the radio industry. Is it because of a lack of understanding? Or perhaps embarrassment about sharing what many consider low numbers relative to our on-air reach? We are doing ourselves and our industry a disservice by treating digital accomplishments as a secret.

The best way to grow confidence in our digital properties is to go back to the basics, and make sure we’rem effectively producing content that’s worth consuming. Someone I’ve always admired for taking extra steps to extend his brand is Cumulus Media personality Rick Daniels, at KIZN in Boise, Idaho. He grabbed my attention recently when his Facebook personality page reached more than 1 million people in a single week. I wondered what his secret was. He says: don’t overthink it.

What types of posts work best for Daniels? He said it’s almost embarrassing how simple his most popular posts are; he says they are “typical memes, but what I try to do is only post memes that are going to spark conversation. What you do is take the meme and ask a question with it.” Consider how you would ask a question to drive a phone topic. How you craft the question can either smother or amplify the response. “Don’t overcomplicate it as far as the strategy is concerned,” Daniels says. “You’re at the will of the audience.”

Maybe part of why some brands succeed and others fail is that they miss the mark on their target digital audience. As Daniels says, “We get so focused on our brand and ourselves. I frankly believe one of the biggest mistakes radio makes in general is they forget who their audience is. That’s how you lose ratings.

“You’re going to have a ton of failure. Just expect it. For brands to really grow, they just have to take a hard look at what they’re doing and understand why it’s not working. You can’t cut corners.”

Essentially, there are three simple things you can try if your station (or show page) is not getting social interaction:

The first goal you should set is simply getting into users’ timelines. Build enough consistency so you’re being seen. This will give you a better understanding of who is seeing your posts.

Next, work on building interaction. Look at the posts that are getting the most reaction and start to craft your future posts with that demographic in mind. The analytical tools will be extremely helpful in understanding the right approach for your posts to get the chance at interactions.

And finally, what are the things that are unique to your station, the things no one else can do? This is where leveraging your personalities, your affiliations, and your connections to the community can drive even more interaction with your brands.

These three steps may look familiar. Maybe it’s because many promotional teams build traction around nontraditional events using these same principles.

What struck me the most was Daniels’ willingness to let me look behind the analytic curtain. He accomplishes fantastic numbers by publishing consistent content and sticking to a plan. After just a year, he’s reaping the benefits. The great thing is you can, too.

Ryan Wrecker hosts Overnight America on KMOX in St. Louis. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrecker or e-mail [email protected]

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