By Mark Kaye
Cox Media Group
Talk Show Host
It’s an understandable question. It’s also the absolute wrong question. What we should always ask when experimenting with new technology is, “Okay, how does this work for me?”
Each social media platform that gains popularity has its own unique characteristics that we, as broadcasters, can and SHOULD take advantage of. But, most of us don’t. We only see one part of the huge impact that social media has on our lives and careers. And, unfortunately, it’s the part of social media that impacts our lives and careers the least.
See, we all know how to use Facebook to re-post our favorite clips from our best shows (and also our not-so-best shows.) And we know how to send out tweets letting our listeners know that we are about to hit the air! “Show starts in 10 minutes listen live on www.yaddayaddayadda.com. (Who among us hasn’t posted that tweet a few bajillion times?) And many of us will send out a “Behind-the-scenes” Instagram photo to let listeners peek into the studio and see what’s going on in an effort to make them feel like a VIP. #Unique #ButNotReally
All of these things are fine to do. And they help to grow and keep your audience. But they are basic. They are basic uses for the most powerful communication tools in our little sheds. There is so much more value to social media that many radio pros are neglecting. For example, content creation.
Yep. Social media is the single best content creation platform available for radio broadcasters and talk show hosts.
Too often we use social media to promote ourselves and increase exposure to our products. But social media is even better used as a tool to help you create that product in the first place. It’s a way to collect data, opinions, and actual “media” that will help you create an incredible listening experience. But so few people are doing it. For those of us who do, that’s a good thing. Using social media for content creation is what will separate the next generation of broadcasters from the rest of the pack.
The problem with social media is that most of us forget the “social” part and concentrate instead on the “media” part. As broadcasters, we are doubly guilty of this. I mean, we broadcast for a living. That’s our thing. Most of us look at Facebook and Snapchat and Periscope and Instagram as new and exciting ways to tell people what we do, what we think, and what we know.
Instead, as talk show hosts, we should be using those same platforms to ask our audiences, “Hey, what do you do? What do you think? What do you know?”
In fact, tapping into the billions of people who use social media on a daily basis is the best show prep machine a host could ask for. It can turn your regular old talk show into a truly unique “experience.”
When a radio host comes to the end of a monologue or wraps up an interview where do they look for content? Where do they go for opinion and interaction? Simple. The same place they have been going for years…The phones! “Let’s go to the phones!”
However, today’s audiences don’t use the phone. (Well, at least not the way God and Alexander Graham Bell intended.) They use Snapchat, and Periscope, and Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.
The phone has simply become a mini-access point to their favorite social media application. They use it for one-way, non-verbal communication. They use it to tweet, text, record video (and audio!) and briefly promote their own thoughts and opinions.
Score! That’s everything we do, too! That phone each one of your audience members is clutching in their hands 20 hours a day is a tool you can use to create an incredible show. It’s a goldmine for content. Plus, since social media is 24/7 — you can use it to create content well before and long after your show has aired.
Set up your show on social media followers and then collect the content they provide to broadcast on the air. They want to do the work for you if you give them a shot.
Here are some real world examples of how this can be done. Many are examples of how I use social media in my own show:
- FACEBOOK: I post my show topic to Facebook hours before my show starts and ask my audience for comments. (And don’t be stingy with your word count. Facebook does not have a character limit.) This gives me a ton of insight into how my audience is feeling about a particular issue. This also helps me “pre-screen” topics. If there is intense interest it gets the greenlight. If not, I scratch it from the lineup. If there is a really passionate individual I reach out to them and get their number so I can call them during the show to discuss it on air. (Side note: The phone works both ways.)
- SNAPCHAT: Snapchat is perfect for radio pros. Your listeners can record a comment and send it to you. That means you can collect listener comments even when you aren’t on the air! The best part is your listeners are limited to 10 seconds on Snapchat so they can’t ramble on and on and on. I do the same thing with Snapchat that I do with Facebook. I ask a question before my show and then collect the responses to play back on the air. It’s like doing a call-in show without any actual callers!
- PERISCOPE/FACEBOOK LIVE: You must live-stream your show. It turns your local program into an international program instantly! I receive calls from Las Vegas, Chicago, even Paris from people who are watching me online and want to chime in. Plus, they often make some incredible comments that you can share on the air or use at a later time. Either of these live-streaming platforms work just as well, but I find Facebook gets me more long-term interaction while Periscope gives me immediate feedback.
- TWITTER: The best thing about Twitter is that it’s an instant newsfeed. The minute something important (and often totally unimportant) happens it shows up on twitter. For this reason alone I keep my twitter feed open constantly during my show. But it’s also an instant feedback machine. My listeners are way more likely to tweet me something mean, sarcastic, snide, or hilarious than they are to call and say it to my face…er, ear. Try having conversations on Twitter and recreate them on the air. Mention people by name. Favorite tweets that you want to reference. It will make them easier to find later on.
- INSTAGRAM: The best thing about Instagram is the comment section. When you strike a nerve with a photo or caption (or combination of both) you will get incredible responses that you can repurpose for your on-air broadcast. And just like Facebook, don’t feel like you should limit your character count. If you have something to say then say it. I love when news organizations and individuals give me a complete, long-form story to accompany an interesting photo. And again be on the lookout for passionate individuals you can use on-the-air to spark an interesting conversation.
- YOUTUBE: Let’s not forget this old stand-by. I still use YouTube for about 98% of my audio collection. Not only are there clips from just about everything newsworthy, but there are sound effects, royalty free music beds, and an endless number of vloggers and “amateur pundits” who say the most ridiculously entertaining things. Use them for your own benefit.
Mark Kaye is a radio talk show host and Internet celebrity. His radio program, “The Mark Kaye Show,” airs weekly on several stations nationwide. Mark is also the host of “Talkin’ Snap!” the first and most watched talk show on Snapchat. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.