01/23

Broadcasters understand Audiences, not Communities

What’s the difference between an audience and a “community”?

As David Siteman Garland puts it in his book Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business:

A community is not an audience.  An audience passively listens, watches, or reads.  A community interacts, questions, challenges.

An audience is one-way, not interactive or social.  An audience doesn’t participate or share with others.

A community, on the other hand, is a two-way conversation – a living, breathing thing.  Extremely interactive, social.

The biggest problem broadcasters have with their digital assets is that they view these assets as extensions of radio brands which function in a similar fashion.  That is, they mistakenly think the purpose of their digital assets is to attract an audience.

While that will be one purpose it should not be the only one or even the most important one.

But doesn’t it then make sense that page views and uniques are easily the most common metrics used to bonus the performance of radio program directors?  They are being incentivized not to build community but to draw a passive one-way audience!

No wonder it’s not working.  No wonder there’s no community.

This explains why we “push” audiences to the website – because the site is incapable of “pulling” them.

This explains why we have “databases” of listeners rather than “communities” of fans.

This explains why there’s so little opportunity to comment and share station content on our sites – and why so little of it is worth commenting about and sharing with others.

This explains why the average station hasn’t even bothered to create a Facebook landing page aimed at motivating “likes” (i.e., ongoing relationships).

This explains why our “email blasts” are impersonal and contest-oriented (when they’re not client-oriented) rather than value-oriented.

This explains why almost no station connects with Facebook such that I can experience your content with my friends and react to it and share it along with them.

That explains why joining a station “club” is something so few listeners care to do.  Check out this “why you should join” description from a real radio station site – a major group in a fairly large market:

Thank you for your interest in becoming a member. By registering with us, you can…

sign up to receive our members-only newsletters

enter online contests quickly and easily

enjoy other products and features we’ll make available over time

You can almost hear the collective ho-hum from here, can’t you?

Are there exceptions to all this?  Are there stations which “get it”?  You bet there are.  And the list will be growing in 2011.

But broadcasters need to wrap their heads around this notion:  Web “traffic” means people.  People coming to you because they want to – because there are reasons for them to come and come back – not because they have been “forced” to by your considerable on-air assets.  They come to interact and engage.  They come to share.

Not simply to passively consume what little content you post.  Not to see the umpteenth weather forecast or movie listings online.  Not to dodge countless banner ads which in too many cases outnumber the “content” they wrap around.

Before you monetize you must be worth monetizing.

And while you build an audience you must also build a community.

(For more trends that matter and ideas on how to do your job better, “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter)

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