How RJs taking to social media has made radio part of bigger digital ecosystem
Radio industry experts share how advertisers are leveraging the digital presence of RJs
The recent lockdown saw a new trend of RJs going live on social media channels of radio stations to connect with the audience. This, for the first time, brought in a visual appeal to radio as the channels were now available on platforms where the consumption is high, thus garnering new listenership as well. As a result, RJs now have a prominent footprint on social media, making them quite popular among brand and advertisers as every brand initiative or activity today requires digital exposure. RJs have a hyper-local approach when it comes to listeners and that's an advantage for brands who want to tap into a particular TG.
Need for social media presence
According to Sunil Kumaran, Country Head, Product, Marketing and THWINK BIG, BIG FM, it has become imperative for RJs too to be present actively across multiple mediums to maintain and strengthen their bond with their listeners.
“With the advent of various interactive social media platforms, audiences are turning from one platform to the other for content, entertainment, and engagement, giving wider opportunities to influencers to connect with their audiences,” he says.
Kumaran added, “These platforms enable listeners to familiarise themselves with the personality behind the voice which they hear on-air every day, reinforcing the relationship between the RJ and the audience. Social media also helps in gauging instant feedback and reaction which invariably leads to high engagement.”
Sharing how they have been using social media platforms, Kumaran said, “When we recently introduced our new RJ in Delhi, RJ Aabhimanyu, we used his social media persona of fun-loving and multi-talented personality who can portray various characters and voices and created an entire pre-buzz campaign around the launch of his show ‘Damdaar Evenings’ on-air and on our social media pages which generated high curiosity prior to his big reveal on air.”
Kartik Kalla, Chief Creative Officer, Radio City, opines that it is very interesting for any artist, not just RJs, to understand people who are consuming their content.
“Social media has emerged as a big digital platform. What we do on the radio has to be extended on digital platforms. Our RJs have become an extension of traditional content on digital.”
Talking about RJs taking centerstage on digital platforms, Nisha Narayanan, Director & COO, RED FM, and Magic FM, shared, “In today’s time, any public personality needs to have a social media interface. Social media is the only platform that has a two-way interface, and provides immediate connection with the fan base.”
“Today, almost all RJs actively engage with their listeners on social media. The general consensus among digital marketers is that social media is an excellent way to develop and reinforce deeper engagement. The brand custodians (RJs) are meant to do that through their social media presence. Any deeper engagement with the prospective listener also gets translated into listenership,” Narayanan adds.
Vivek Mohan Sharma, Head - Digital Business, Mirchi, says, “With consumers having an increasingly shorter attention span and multiple content platforms at their disposal, it is imperative for an influencer to be present across forums. Thus, social media gives our RJs a window to connect with their audience, not only during their on-air show time, but 24X7. Deeper visual engagement on social media enables the RJs to forge a stronger connection with their audience, which in turn increases their on-air loyalty and helps them attract new audiences too. Having a presence on social media dissolves several boundaries for an RJ and allows them to reach out to consumers spread across the country and even beyond. Many of our RJs today are strong national figures due to their social media prowess.”
Pandemic and RJs’ paradigm shift to digital platforms
Kumaran says, “With movement being restricted during the pandemic, people spent a higher amount of time than usual on their smartphones and other devices, leading to higher content exposure and consumption across platforms. This also gave rise to many content creators on social media and digital platforms who drove engagement through their distinct style.”
“With the introduction of new formats on social media, RJs, who are credible influencers, are reaching out and interacting with their followers wherever they are present. RJs also leverage the power of social media for many causes and to help listeners in need during the pandemic. For example, our RJ Errol used the strength of radio and social media to help a couple, who was expecting a child, get flight tickets to reach Mangalore from Dubai in the middle of the lockdown.”
Radio City’s Kalla commented, “During lockdown, a lot of engagement started happening from the RJs’ side. Radio was not just being heard but, through digital, it is also being seen. This gives us an opportunity to be a part of a bigger ecosystem of digital and be seen as much as we are being heard.”
Narayanan says, “The pandemic was a reality check for businesses that have been reluctant to embrace digital transformation. It is not a big paradigm shift, many brands already had a considerable digital/social media presence before the pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic had led to an inevitable surge in the use of digital technologies. Social media gave people avenues for better digital interactivity and hence, digital came into focus for every brand. Because of the pandemic, the on-ground IPs had to take a digital shift, and we were able to do that successfully.”
Sharma states, “The pandemic presented an opportunity for RJs to innovate and use social media in novel ways. To give an example, we recently launched Shardul Pandit as our new RJ in Mumbai. He was a contestant in the latest Bigg Boss Season. To make a big bang announcement of this livewire show, Mirchi hosted the longest simulcast on 19th February from 7 AM to 9 PM. Shardul went live from his Instagram account for 14 hours and interacted with over 40+ guests throughout the day which generated over 5 lakhs of Instagram live views.”
Branding activities with RJs
Kumaran noted, “RJs today have become the voice of change and have played a huge role in strengthening bonds between listeners, radio and brands. Depending on the objective of the campaign, we at BIG FM offer different elements and solutions to brands as part of our marketing plans. With digitization playing a vital role in how the modern-day consumer shops, BIG FM’s social media handles and social media handles of our RJs play an instrumental role in marketing.”
Narayanan, talking about RED FM’s integrations with RJs and branded content, said, “RJs are the micro-influencer for their geographical markets. RED FM has done several influencer-driven campaigns which had a mix of radio and online leg.”
Mirchi’s RJs have a follower base of around 20 million that spreads across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. “Mirchi’s strong hyper-local connect and social media presence is an important part of the overall solutions that we offer to our clients to meet their marketing challenges.”
Sharing examples from Mirchi, Sharma illustrates, “During the launch of Mi’s flagship phone Mi 10i, our RJs across 20 cities unboxed the phone on social media and helped their followers make an informed choice about their next smartphone purchase. Again when Netflix made its entire streaming service available for free for audiences (Netflix StreamFest, 5th/6th December 2020), Mirchi RJs wrapped up their shows an hour early and few others didn’t even host their shows that time. They did so to buy more time to binge-watch and update their followers on social media about what they were watching on Netflix. This was further supplemented by the RJs' watch-lists and show recommendations via RJ-vlogs.”
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