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What Kind of Digital Content Should Broadcasters Create?

Yesterday I was asked a great – and very common – question.

If content is so terribly important in the digital world, then what types of content should broadcasters feature on their web platforms?  In other words, “can you be more specific, Mark?”

There are many reasons why there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question.

First, you need to understand that content forms from and around brands.  And building a brand is not like following a recipe.

Granted, much radio programming falls under the “recipe” category, but that’s because each market has (until recently) operated in a relative vacuum, so best practices in content from one market generally applied to others (with important modifications thanks to competitive factors) since people are more alike than they are different – especially within a particular group of format fans.

But there is no vacuum on the digital side.  You are in competition with everyone who has an idea and the wherewithal to execute it.  What you have that they don’t have is, of course, the attention of thousands – maybe millions – of listeners.  What a shame if you couldn’t rally that attention to content online that interests them.

Second, you need to know that content springs from the unique capabilities, resources, strengths, and weaknesses of you and your team. That mix of factors varies in every group, and thus so does the advisable digital strategy and execution details.  Most people are better at some things than others.  Some people are great at quite unique things.  What a shame if we don’t leverage what’s special about our specific team.

What new content should you create online?

Well, what new drink should Starbucks create?  Probably one that leverages their capabilities, resources, strengths, and weaknesses, as well as the expectations and potentialities of their brand.  What would Starbucks like to create? Now, does their audience accept it?

What digital content should Howard Stern create?  Wow, I can think of a hundred ideas, none of which may be relevant for you and your situation.

Do you see what I mean?

This, in fact, is why I work with clients individually to develop digital strategies that make sense for them – and perhaps uniquely for them.

Third, the goals of organizations vary dramatically. A Christian station is on a mission-bnased goal where fundraising is critical.  What is the goal of your station, besides the generic “making money?”  After all, money-making is an outcome of action, not an input into it.

Fourth, you need to recognize that conversations about monetizing digital assets risk placing the cart before the horse. You can only monetize what attracts attention and engagement.  You can’t create attention and engagement out of monetization efforts.

Fifth, you need to understand what “content” is.  Content is not necessarily something you create. Content is what there is for me, the consumer, to do in your presence online, but not only that.  It might be a game.  It might be a discussion.  It might be watching or sharing or uploading my own video.  It might be personalizing your site or your station or making one of their own.  What you need to understand is that your audience – your consumers – and their contributions are the real content.  And your job is to set them free.

Finally, recognize that best practices don’t exist in this space on the content side. And if they did they would be changing too fast for me to share with you in any meaningful way.  Just as McDonalds tests new items on their menu, you should be testing new content elements and strategies.

It is that zeal to create, willingness to fail, and thirst for success that will set you apart from that group of broadcasters formerly known as your peers.

Now, go get ’em.

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