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FM stations go the social media way to tap new listeners

29-July-2009
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FM stations go the social media way to tap new listeners

Every brand, every media platform is looking at logging on to social media, given its growing importance in India today. This also includes the various FM radio players, who are taking to social media in a significant way to interact and reach out to their TG. exchange4media delves further into this growing trend.

If My FM has created its own identity on social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut and Twitter, Big FM has a tie-up with BigAdda, the social networking site from Reliance ADAG, and has created a micro blog. The FM station has invites listeners to come online for detailed discussions.

How they see it

Harrish M Bhatia, COO, My FM, explained, “My FM has also created its own identity on these social networking sites by making several groups and communities of the FM station with regards to its shows and the RJs. The objective is to update our listeners about all the new programmes and contests across all the stations of My FM and to also actively receive feedback through yet another medium. Through the networking sites we also engage in promoting our RJs.”

“My FM is reaching out to its listeners through Facebook, Orkut, Twitter and so on, and has gradually built up a loyal fan base on these networking sites and followership on Twitter. These mediums are quite engaging and, going by the initial response, it is apparent that the users have liked the idea of being connected with My FM and RJ over the social media,” he added.

Anand Chakravarthy, Senior Vice President - Marketing, Big FM, stated, “All our RJs have a blog, they even invite listeners to come online as one cannot discuss endlessly on-air and, therefore, online becomes a little more detailed in terms of conversation or interactivity. I believe social media provides a great opportunity in terms of creating awareness about the activities we do and even the programming line-ups and so on.”

He further said, “The similarities between both social media and FM stations are that both of them are live mediums and secondly, the two are highly interactive. There are things that you can do on a radio station, which you cannot do on a social networking site, for instance, in a social networking site you can limit yourself to personal blogging, but in case of radio, your voice gets carried across the city/ town. In social media, you can have a detailed conversation, while on FM radio you are bound by time constraints, and as the medium grows, you will also increasingly find a lot more synergies happening between social networking sites and radio stations.”

On a different take, Neeraj Chaturvedi, National Marketing Head, Fever FM, said, “Social media or social networking sites are emerging ways to engage with audiences. They are much more advanced in the West than in India. While it is an interesting platform to showcase a product such as radio, the sheer numbers that we are addressing is still low, given Internet penetration rates in India. Not only is there a slim percentage of people online today, it is also a very elite audience, and radio is today reaching out to all cross-sections of the society. Also, this will see more of a boom once online streaming is allowed in India, when more and more radio stations will get active on the online front.”

What difference it is making

Social media can be seen as an important medium to be present in, especially for FM stations to connect with their loyal listeners and even roping in prospective listeners. The aim, however, is connecting with the audience even at those times when they are not tuned in, thus bringing in a personal touch. So, is the industry making best use of social media, will it make any difference at all to the listenership or brand building per se?

My FM’s Bhatia observed, “Social networking sites are like a viral through which information is shared between users. The industry at present is not using much of social media, whereas it should be using much of it to communicate and convey personalised engagements to its listeners. Social networking sites are built to interact with a large number of audiences. It is believed the social media will allow 360-degree mode of connection and communication with the listeners and hence, presents an important tool in the brand building armory, and stronger the brand, stronger will be its connect and recall value for the station. Hence, we believe that social media will enable brand recall translating into loyal listenership.”

My FM plans to be constantly active on Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, ibibo and other social media as well, where there is stronger presence of the youth. It also aims to encourage its RJs to be on these sites so that apart from the brand, even the RJs can communicate with their audiences and allow their followers to communicate on a one-to-one basis.

Chaturvedi of Fever FM noted, “Any brand needs to evaluate where its target audience can be found, and then choose its brand building activities accordingly. As such, there will be a percentage of any FM channel’s TG, which can be found on Facebook, Orkut and even Twitter. The interesting aspect will be how each brand uses these platforms to further its brand messaging in a unique manner so as to establish some level of brand loyalty, which was hitherto lacking in the FM space.”

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