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Radio Needs more “Strategy” in its “Digital Strategy”

The single biggest mistake radio broadcasters make as we devise our digital strategies is this:

We assume it's all about us.

It's not at ALL about us.  It's all about your audience and what they want – as individuals – in their interactions online (and I used that term intentionally because of the root word "interact") with each other and with wherever your brand takes them.

Yesterday I got a peek at the traffic many radio station sites were receiving – and I was shocked. Shocked at how LOW it was, relative to the power of any given station in its market.

And the reason that it was lower than I expected is that too many broadcasters don't have digital strategies.  We have websites – digital Christmas trees for our radio stations, ornamented with this banner ad and that bauble.

When you plow a bunch of tactics into a pile, it doesn't necessarily form a strategy.  And when you dump a slew of widgets on a website it doesn't constitute a digital strategy.

And it's all because it's not about who we are and what we want – it's about who the audience is and what they want in a digital space.

The medium – to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan – is the message.  Contrary to what the NAB and RAB tell you, online is not a "new distribution channel" for your "platform-agnostic" over-the-air content, it's a different medium altogether – as different from radio as radio is from TV. Even more so, in fact.

And the consequence of that is that you must not think of an online space as a redistribution portal for your content.  You must think of it as an extension of your audience and/or your content which may have common threads but are not carbon copies.  Consumers will participate in your digital strategies for their reasons, not yours.

For example, why oh why do the vast majority of stations stream ONLY their over-the-air content?  Isn't this – by definition – the LAST thing you should stream, since it's universally available to everyone in the market for free via easy-to-use radios – five of them in every home, work and car?  Isn't the stream virtually redundant?  And if it's redundant, why should the listener use it?  And if its purpose is to allow folks to hear the station in spots the signal can't penetrate, isn't that a rather weak motivation to stream content?

These are questions of strategy, not tactics.

And radio would be well-served to spend more time on the former and less on the latter.

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