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06/24

Key Takeaways from hivio, the Audio Future Festival

tech-opening

So what did you miss at hivio, the audio future festival, in San Diego earlier this month?

Well let’s ask somebody who was there. Sara Marsolek, Faith Radio Network’s Listener Engagement Director, was kind enough to take some copious notes and has agreed to let me share a summary of them with you. You can read her original blog post about the event here.

Thanks Sara!

Here are some key takeaways:

1. Build your list.

I call this new name acquisition – too fancy? Well, you get the point. Everything you do should incorporate a strategic and exciting way for a fan to share their contact information – to respond to you. What are you offering in exchange for access into his/her life?

2. Create and curate exclusive content that accomplishes your mission AND matters to your fans AND make it available through multiple channels.

You own it, you disperse it, the people come back to you instead of going over to … “Where hits are commodities, you need hits that you own.” Find ways to cultivate winning content offerings, or highly consumed audio in-house. Think differently about what a ‘hit’ can be. Clear wins are content that make your fans smarter and helps them make a smart decision, content that makes them look good when they share it, or content that evokes emotion. 

3. Throw out half of the content (on-air and online) you just created and start over.

Your next attempt will be much better than the first. Trust me. Or trust Pixar. It’s what they do every day as they develop each new film. (Emma Coats) Build a story worth listening to and worth sharing. What does this look like in your workday? Show prep. Second and third drafts. A running list of ideas, topics, guests, approaches, angles that you may never use. That’s okay. Understand that not everything that excites you will be interesting to your audience. Pro tip: Be open to criticism, stand firm on your idea, but be able to accept rejection and move on to the next. big. idea. 

4. There is a continual-and-huge demand for bite-size audio.

People love bite-size programming; 30 seconds, 3-5 minutes, 7 minutes max. It’s a tech-driven distracted world where people want the ‘main points’ and to consume it on mobile or in an app. Deliver on that. Skip the 30 minute podcast. Find those 30-second nuggets, attach your metadata and put them on social – spread them everywhere – share them with anyone – because you own them and they’re highly consumable. You’ll build a following that may be willing to consume longer segments as they consume you over time. Rarely will a user consume full-length on first interaction with your brand. Pro tip: Approach your content with the general assumption that it will only ever be skimmed and then test. Maybe your best length is 30 seconds, maybe it’s 3.256735 minutes. Figure it out. 

5. Stop PPMing your programming. 

Ratings matter to advertisers and that’s where it should stop (in fact advertisers should stop making decisions based on ratings too). As a brand, your fans come first. Engagement trumps reach. Know who you’re talking with and why they’re listening. If you continue to program based on PPM (portable people meters), you will take all the fun and creativity out of programming and it will hurt you in the long run, both in attracting talent and keeping an engaged audience. Advertisers want a ‘real’ audience, they want to see tangible actions by consumers based on marketing messages, and have bought into the idea that PPM shows them where the audience is. Your station might show big #s, but do you have the hearts of your audience? Depth vs. reach. Pro tip: Advertisers buy ideas that are proprietary to your brand. If they can take the idea and apply it elsewhere, it’s not proprietary and it’s certainly not original, which won’t set them apart in an already fragmented market. 

6. Linear consumption is out.

People want easy access to your best stuff when they want it, where they want it; non-linear (@agogo). Consumers don’t live under YOUR schedule, but they still want to see, hear, participate and enjoy your best work – just on their own time frame and favorite distribution channel (which may not be radio). Podcasting (or better defined as on-demand audio) is your best opportunity to reach non-linear consumers. On-demand audio also reaches users who may not even be aware of you or live in your market, but they’re looking for niche content – audio specific to a need or interest. You can meet that demand and gain a fan if you make your content available beyond your traditional means. Note: Fans trump audiences. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2014 report will tell you this as well. Audiences tune in when they’re told to (and then tune out promptly afterwards without any further action). Fans choose when and what to watch (then go and share and comment and like and sometimes create the stuff that you can turn around and use the next day). Fans move in flocks and if you can activate a fan base, you have a highly passionate mobilized group to work with. Pro tip: In order to get your audio picked up by other distribution channels, apps, or discovered by consumers, include metadata with your on-demand audio. It makes it easier for the consumers, apps, and channels to know what to do and how to use your offerings.

7. Sharing isn’t accidental.

People share because an emotion was activated or it makes them look better. On that latter bit, everyone is trying to build their own social currency. Help them out every so often. (@markmiddo) Find out what the consumer values and wants, and then offer that. Don’t just throw out a ‘call now for a chance to win this prize!’ without knowing whether they want the prize in the first place! You’re wasting your time, and dollars on trinkets. Test. Find what works – what gets shared – and you’ll find your targets to aim for. A little data goes a long way in the long run. Pro tip: Ask your fans what they want. Do it as a promotion. “Sign up, tell us what you want for a chance to win what you want. Okay? Go!” 

8. Hire talent that has an audience, not just a voice. 

Radio talent that eventually turn into stars are avidly developing their own brand, their own platform, and capabilities outside the station walls. They are becoming their own media, interacting in the community and with their fans in a way that’s absolutely engaging and social, unique to them and big. And they’re doing it without a studio or staff behind them. Pro tip: Every market has a YouTube star. All you need to do is train them how to do radio because they have everything else you need to explode your brand (content, fans, personality).

9. ASK your fans WHAT they WANT. Do it now. And then deliver.

Develop your audience. Develop your own unique connection points with your audience who are following you for very specific reasons. Don’t copy the competition in hopes to garner (steal) their audience members. It doesn’t pay to fight over channel surfers or button pushers. Focus on your P1′s. They’re already loyal to you. Love them back.

10. “Fear will prevent 99% of the population from being successful.” – Ric Militi.

Fear is what holds radio (and basically everyone) back from success. We’ve (Radio) been around a while. We’ve got legacy – but legacy isn’t going to keep us here. Our fans will. And in order to keep and attract fans, we need to keep and attract talent who can and love to engage with them in big, unique, meaningful, star-filled ways. We need to be okay with failing which means we need to try – and then try again.

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