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We are pleased to feature an interview on our blog with Seth Resler, a.k.a. “the
Digital Dot Connector.”  In addition to time behind the mic and as a Program
Director, Seth has made a name for himself in developing online strategies for
radio stations.  We think that there’s a lot of practical information in this
interview, as well as in this video detailing his tips for building a single,
coherent digital strategy: https://youtu.be/kXzHLytyDwI.

GM: With your 20 years behind the mic and in programming for broadcast radio, and
10 years working in online marketing, your current title as Digital Dot
Connector at Jacobs Media seems like a natural extension of your talents,
interests, and work experience. Can you briefly explain what exactly a “Digital
Dot Connector” does, and how the position came about?


SR: Fred Jacobs came up with the job title, "Digital Dot Connector," when he hired
me.  As he spoke to radio broadcasters around the country, he sensed that they
felt overwhelmed by all the new digital tools that have popped up in the last
decade. Broadcasters are now expected to know everything from email marketing to
social media to blogging to podcasting. At the same time, they are increasingly
being asked to do more with less time and resources. So they needed somebody who
could help them step back and look at the big picture; help them understand how
all of these different tools fit together into a single coherent strategy that,
ultimately, impacts the company's bottom line. In short, they needed somebody
who could connect all of the digital "dots."


GM: In your opinion, what are some examples of stations that are doing an
excellent job with their digital strategies? What are the kinds of things
they’re doing that make them stand out in your mind?


SR: Different stations tend to succeed at different aspects of digital strategy. One
may be excelling at social media, while another is succeeding with podcasting.

As a company, Greater Media is doing an excellent job of regularly producing
website content. They have a dedicated content team in Detroit, which feeds
national content out to their radio stations around the country. Each station
also publishes its own local content in addition to that. It's a smart way to
marry their local and national resources.

This type of content creation is key, because I advocate a strategy known as
"Content Marketing" to pull all of a station's digital tools together into a
streamlined plan. In a nutshell, here's how it works:

1. Create content on your website. 2. Use social media, search engines, and your
airwaves to drive people to that content. 3. Once people come back to your
website, encourage them to do something (such as sign up for the email database,
stream the station, enter a contest, etc.) 4. Regularly review analytics to see
what's working and what's not; tweak your strategy as needed.

I often encourage broadcasters to look outside of our industry for inspiration.
Content Marketing is not a strategy that's exclusive to broadcasters, and there
are many companies in other verticals that are doing it well, such as Hubspot,
GE, and Marriott.


GM: What are some metrics you look at to evaluate whether a station is optimizing
its digital presence? Do the raw numbers themselves (Facebook likes, Twitter
followers, etc.) really tell you much, or is the quality of interaction more
important than the quantity of people?


SR: Once upon a time, we only had two metrics to worry about: ratings and revenue.
Now, there are dozens of things that we can measure.  But the fact that you can
measure something doesn't mean it's an important data point. I see a lot of
stations that set up employee bonuses around metrics like Facebook likes and
Twitter followers, even though they don't understand what impact these numbers
have on the station's bottom line.

Here are the most important numbers for stations to look at:

1. Revenue: How much money is the station making? This is the single most
important number, digital or otherwise, that broadcasters can look at.

2. Goal Conversions: What do you want people to do when they come to your
website? Stream the station? Sign up for the email list? Click on an ad? Enter a
contest? Request advertising info? These are your website's "goals." A site can
have multiple goals, and some of those goals may be more worth more than others.
(An advertising inquiry is potentially worth a lot more than a contest entry.)
Every time a person completes one of the goals, it's called a "conversion." Know
how many conversions your site is getting, and also the conversion rate -- what
percentage of your visitors are converting. You'll find this info in your site's
Google Analytics report.

3. Website Traffic: The more people that come to your website, the more Goal
Conversions you'll get. You can see how many people come to your website by
looking at your Google Analytics report. Use it to try and determine which
content drives the most traffic to the site, and then create more content like
that. It's very similar to programming a radio station: hit records attract
listeners, hit blogposts attract visitors.


GM: What are some common mistakes you see stations making with their websites or
on social media?


SR: The biggest mistake stations make is not understanding how social media fits
into their overall strategy. I'm not a big fan of the word "branding." While I
do think there's real value in branding, too often we hide behind that term when
we don't really understand what's going on:

"Why is Facebook important?" "For branding."

That's a cop-out. Facebook is important because it affects your radio station's
bottom line, and you need to understand how it does that.

One sign that a radio station doesn't understand how social media affects their
bottom line? They only share content from other websites. There's nothing wrong
with sharing a link to a TMZ video or a Huffington Post article; it won't hurt
your radio station. But it doesn't do that much to help your radio station,
either. It does, however, help TMZ and Huffington Post quite a bit, and I'm sure
they're grateful.

Radio stations should be creating their own content and sharing it over social
media. If you're not consistently creating original online content, you're
largely missing out on the value of social media.


GM: What types of things would you like to see broadcasters doing in the online
space that you’re not seeing enough of yet?


SR: Lead generation. Most radio station are still generating sales leads the same
way that they have for decades: by prospecting. They see who's advertising on
other local outlets, and then call those advertisers and try to get them to buy
on their station. But the advertisers have already spent their money. This is
like Ronald McDonald standing at the end of the KFC drive thru and yelling at
every exiting vehicle, "Next time you could get a Happy Meal!" It's a lot of
work for little return.

Content Marketing is a digital strategy that can not only be used on the
programming side of the station to gain listeners, but on the sales side of the
building to generate qualified sales leads. It's a practice you see in many
other industries, but broadcasters haven't embraced it yet. I'd like to see that
change.


GM: It seems inevitable that broadcasters worldwide will need to further
integrate their on-air products with existing and emerging digital platforms.
What do you see in the crystal ball for radio’s digital future?


SR: Two things:

1) Podcasting. When we look at our brothers and sister in television
broadcasting, we can see that on-demand video is growing rapidly. People love
their DVRs, their Netflix, their Hulus. They want to consume content on their
own schedule.

Increasingly, they're going to want to consume audio content on demand as well.
At Jacobs Media we're seeing an impressive increase in podcast listenership in
our annual Techsurvey results. Last year, 21% of respondents reported listening
to a podcast in the past month. This year, that number rose to 28%. All the
signs suggest that it's only going to keep growing.

Broadcasters are perfectly positioned to take advantage of podcasting. After
all, creating and monetizing audio content is what we do best. Yet outside of
public radio, few stations are investing serious resources in this space.

2) The Connected Car. For as long as we can remember, there has been a radio at
the heart of the dashboard. But that's not the case with the cars that are
rolling off the assembly line today: they have computers, not radios, in the
center stack. Those computers are running operating systems built by Google
(Android Auto) and Apple (Carplay), which makes those two companies the new
gatekeepers. Local radio stations shouldn't take their coveted dashboard
position for granted. They will need to develop a strategy, or they could
disappear from the car just like they're disappearing from the nightstand in the
bedroom.

___

Thanks very much to Seth for taking the time to share his valuable insight! For more information, or to contact Seth, head to www.SethResler.com!