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Give your Audience Something to Do

“We’re doing a better job at selling what we have online than having content online worth selling.”

That sums up the comment one of radio’s leaders made to me recently.  And it leads to the obvious question:  Given the tremendous reach of radio why don’t more folks visit our digital assets?

In this picture, I show the uniques (i.e., cume) for one major broadcaster’s 24 most popular station sites for the month of September.  Every one of these sites is attached to a reasonably or very large market station, and the station sites at the bottom of this list happen to belong to top ten market stations.

So outside of New York and LA this particular group has stations which quickly descend into the 20,000 uniques-per-month range.  20,000 people in a major market? Shouldn’t these stations deliver more of their consumers to their digital assets?  I think so.  And this group is among the best at what they do on the digital front.

So “if you build it,” why don’t they come?  Because there’s not enough stuff for consumers to do there.

Note that I didn’t simply say “there’s not enough content there” (although there isn’t).  I said there’s not enough stuff to do there.

We get caught up in terms like “engagement” and “social media” so regularly, we forget the essential truth that consumers “engage” in something not anything, and they spread word about things that interest them, not things that might interest you.

I would argue that we are thinking about our radio station digital sites all wrong. We tend to think of them as digital outposts for our over-the-air brands, as repositories for repurposing content, as added value to advertisers, as marketing tools for our radio stations.

In truth, they are all of these things but have the potential to be a whole lot more.

What we need to do is to think of our digital assets as platforms, not destinations.  Platforms – sandboxes – where consumers can do stuff: Customize things, comment on things, share things, participate in things, join their social network in things, make things, play things, etc.

Small wonder, then, that one of the most effective digital content elements out there is the TuneGenie application.  Yes, it summarizes what’s on the air, but it also allows the consumer to explore related content in multiple media. In other words, it enables them to do stuff. And it sits atop the “platform” that is the radio station site, where the purpose of the site is to enable interaction, discovery, engagement, sharing, and fun.  This single content element contributes a huge fraction of the activity of most of the sites which feature it. Because it gives consumers something to do.

We must get out of the business of treating consumers like passive listeners and yet expecting them to walk (or be “driven”) to our digital assets.  The act of visiting your digital assets is an act of will, and it happens only because the attraction is worth visiting, worth doing stuff with, and worth talking about.

Be a “platform,” not a “radio station.”  And give your consumers something to do.

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