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What if Listeners Don’t Want to “Engage” with your Radio Brands?

Follow your Heart

There’s this assumption in digital-land that everybody wants to “engage.”  That “engagement” is the ultimate goal of all digital activities.

So then why is there so little “engagement” with most radio brands online?

Is it because radio brands are poorly represented on digital platforms?  Or is it because most (but certainly not all) listeners use radio not because it occupies their every moment of conscious thought, but precisely because it doesn’t?

The answer is certainly “both.”

Too many radio brands expect audiences to “engage” with their station brands simply because those brands exist online in one form or another.  But establishing an outpost on Facebook or Twitter does not mean listeners will use it (let alone “like” it), any more than publishing a book means people will read it or releasing a new song means people will hear it.

“Usage” is not the same as “attention.”  And “usage” does not necessarily suggest the level of interest that “engagement” usually implies.  Sometimes “usage” just means “usage.”  It means being in the right place at the right time where the right station happens to be playing.  And this is especially true in the world of PPM where cumes balloon and time-spent-listening craters.  That’s the purest reflection of dispassionate usage I can imagine.

Maybe it’s wrong for you to expect folks to “engage” with you online.

Unless, of course, you are doing things online specifically designed to attract a level of attention which goes beyond the low bar that “usage” can represent.

Getting “engagement” online requires doing things online designed to engage.  That means much more than repurposing over-the-air content, tweeting what song you’re playing now, embedding that YouTube clip everybody has already seen, or pimping whatever the contest-du-jour happens to be.

As the great ad-man David Ogilvy once put it, “the consumer is not an idiot, she is your wife.”

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