Broadcasting online is an interesting trend for bloggers and people who simply want to share a message. Radio was almost a forgotten medium but it is making a comeback because with sites like Live365 and Croice, anyone can create a broadcast and cultivate a following that sets them apart from other bloggers. This new trend is great because we can see some interesting and creative ways people are using a vintage medium in a high tech world. However, just jumping online and talking won’t get people to listen to you, these 10 tips will help you to cultivate a following and keep it.
1. Research your audience
You probably have a really great idea for a broadcast and can talk for hours on the subject. However, if you don’t take into account your audience, no one will hear it. Simply thinking that you will talk about what you like, and an audience will follow, is not a great way to start. Research is key and there are rich sources online to learn about your audience. Blogs on similar topics to your own are great because you can see what subjects are getting the most hits and also what people are saying in the comment section. This way you can find an interesting topic, tie it in with a current event and use that as a portal to talk about the subject which is most important to you. If you can successfully bridge a popular topic with your own ideas and topics, people will follow along with you and you can set yourself apart from the competition.
2. Market your broadcast
No one is going to listen to your broadcast if they don’t know it exists. Make sure to start letting your followers and friends know the date and time of your broadcast two or three days before it airs. This gives them time to put it in their schedule and gives you time to embed widgets in various blogs and to get the word out about your broadcasts.
3. Quality Equipment
Equipment is actually important. You don’t need the best available, but you do need equipment that sounds professional and not like a wireless Skype call. Some items to bump up your game:
• Computer -with speeds fast enough to play sound bites and clips without interruption
• Microphone-a unit that sounds professional but won’t break your piggy bank, such as Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone
• Headphones- with a flat sound curve so that neither bass nor treble is bloated such as the Audio-Technica ATH-M30
Make sure that your sound bites are ready to go. You will sound unprofessional and unprepared if things don’t go smoothly. Queuing up everything you will need ahead of time and having it easily accessible is key to keep the audience engaged and also see you as a professional. People will be listening to you in order to learn new information, if you sound like an amateur, they will lose trust in your broadcasts.
5. Make an outline and script
“Dead air” is a word that everyone knows because it is one of the worse things that can happen during a broadcast. One of the main ways to prevent this is being prepared. Make sure you:
• Make an outline of the entire show and memorize before your broadcast
• Write out a script at least for the main points, such as the introduction
• Have jokes or an entertaining phrase ready to go if the situation arises
An important part of a professional show is to have someone interesting or who has specialized knowledge included in the show. Find a guest to come into your studio and speak in your show or call them remotely if you have reliable equipment. The person you interview should have more knowledge than your average listener on the subject…or at least fake it well. Another option is just to have someone entertaining who knows the art of storytelling. This can keep your show entertaining as well as being informative, which satisfies the two main reasons that people tune in to broadcasts.
A great way to keep listeners coming back is to be consistent. Your broadcasts should all be somehow related. Many bloggers who started broadcasting weren’t successful because each of their shows was on a completely different topic which made listeners turn elsewhere. Consistency is also important with timing. A weekly or bi-monthly show at normal times allows your listeners to get on a schedule of listening to your broadcasts and keeps them from being lost if they don’t have access to your widgets and other marketing posts. Finally, keep your broadcasts the same length every time, this allows the listener to make time to listen to your broadcast and they know when the satisfaction of the conclusion is coming.
8. Segment your broadcast
Professional broadcasters include “segments” in their shows. These can develop over time as you see what your audience prefers. However, starting off with a few segments for your first broadcasts will help to break up your show and keep listeners engaged. During your introduction, announce the different topics that are “coming up,” so that even if your current topic is boring to a listener, they might keep listening in order to hear an interesting segment later on. Short attention spans are something all bloggers and broadcasters constantly fight and this will help greatly.
9. Allow listener interaction
The great thing about online broadcasting is that this technology brings the audience closer to the host. People will always have opinions on topics, even the most mundane articles at least get some people writing in the comment section. This is a great thing to capitalize on because your audience will feel they can interact with the host and reach an audience with their ideas. This can be done through programs like Skype, or you can use an online broadcasting tool such as Croice or Ustream which include an instant messenger app for real-time and direct interaction for users with each other and the host.
10. Finish with something impactful
The end of the show is one of the most crucial points. This is where you can leave a lasting impression with your audience and persuade them to tune into the next broadcast. A great way to do this is to announce what your next show will be about but with cliffhangers for each subject, so that the audience has to tune in to satisfy their curiosity. Another way common way is to do something memorable, maybe even shocking at the end of your show. Many professionals wait until the end of their show to perform their last segment, which will be short but rewarding. Some ideas for an ending include telling a terrible joke that is so unfunny that people want to hear it, or perhaps a funny sound clip of the week. This works because your audience will want to listen to your entire broadcast to hear your last segment, and it will leave them with a satisfied feeling.
There is no one else quite like you and that difference is what makes you interesting. It’s true, research and planning are important for getting listeners and holding on to them. However, the thing that will make you competitive and get a truly loyal listener base, is being yourself and introducing your own creativity and quirks into your work.