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What's the point in a Twitter account?

It’s amazing how many projects we work on at the moment which aren’t particularly social media focussed, but we end up running an impromptu session for the people we are working with. A couple of months ago it happened again. We have been spending some time at a community radio station in the South East, working alongside staff and volunteers to develop the stations offer to everyone involved. I always love visiting various community stations and can virtually guarantee that regardless of whether it’s based on a geographical community, a community of faith or a mutual love of fishing (there isn’t one of them as far as I know) the volunteers will always be massively passionate about producing the most amazing community radio programmes that they can.

During this visit, one of the station volunteers asked me a very simple question “How do I know if anyone is listening?” my answer was equally simple “Have you asked?”. The stunned silence which follows always amuses me, especially when it’s followed by “How can I do that on the radio?”. I proceeded to explain that not all communication for a radio station has to take place on the radio.

“Have you searched Twitter?” I asked

“I’m not interested, what people have for breakfast” was the reply.

Here we go again I thought, followed by a fifteen minute conversation on the power of social media not only for telling people what you’re doing, but for finding out what people think about what you’re doing.

A one hour flurry of Wordpress, Twitter, Buffer and Hootsuite later and we were in business, I had a convert and the project had a social media advocate.

What seemed to amaze the project staff even more was how easy it was to compliment the stations output with social media. Let me give you a few examples:-

Radio stations always have difficulty raising awareness of their schedules. Why not pick a selection of shows each day and schedule them to post to Twitter around 15-30 minutes before the show starts. Also if the presenter has a twitter feed which they use for radio, use the @ symbol to mention them. I can almost guarantee they will retweet it and extend your stations reach.

Ask questions, whether it’s about your shows or content or even as part of a feature. Generating interest before the show will encourage more people to take part and potentially listen. Make a decision on whether you will allow volunteers and presenters to post on your feed, this may have it’s problems but a well prepared social media policy can help with this.

Mix your media, taking photos or even videos of guests and posting them to Youtube/Flickr will not only mean your station name is being shared more widely, but it also help with your SEO/SMO. Did you know that Youtube is now the second most used search engine, you need to be there. If you have a little more time, add your logo or watermark images, not only does  this protect them but means that your logo is being shared alongside the content.

Use a tool such as Hootsuite to set up some searches, try your station name, your town/city name and check them regularly. This is a much easier way to find out about local events than you might want to be involved in, or at the very least promote. Who knows, maybe there’s an interview and a potential partnership in it.

Social Media is incredibly versatile and a community radio station can easily make it work for them with a little time and a solid strategy. Try not to think of it as an unnecessary extra, more a complimentary medium making your station even more accessible to its target audience. Social Media is what you make of it; it’s not always about what someone’s had for breakfast.

Which reminds me, I’ve not eaten yet.....

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