I recently came across a blog post that explained, step by step, how a young man could use his phone to speak with his girlfriend. Doing so, the author explained, might help build a better relationship. At first, I thought this was a joke article written by The Onion. It wasn’t.
A quick Google search revealed that there are actually lots of articles and advice on this specific “challenge” and that, apparently, learning how to utilize a phone to actually speak with a person, is a thing.
Upon reflection, I, too, talk less on the phone than I used to. I rarely answer either my home or office phone because anyone who knows me has my mobile number.
Speaking to many others and looking at declining stats about using a phone for a voice call, I suppose it’s not all that surprising that talking on the phone is so last century.
Is this reality reflected in the way you interact with your listeners? Let’s explore how we might provide better communication options.
A station chatbot on Facebook Messenger can be your next personality
Facebook Messenger reaches over 1.2 billion people. It’s a safe bet that a substantial number of your listeners leave it open all day and are constantly using it. What does that mean to you? It’s called opportunity.
CHAT ABOUT A BOT
Consider building a customized “chatbot” for Facebook Messenger that your listeners can use to ask pretty much anything they want of your station, 24/7. Move fast to offer this service, featuring entertainment information and it’s possible that you just might capture the “first-in” advantage in your market and get locals used to coming to you for details about lifestyle entertainment information help from concerts to movies, to events.
Begin building your chatbot by coming up with at least a hundred questions that you either receive now — or believe you will receive in the near future — and then determine how you’re going to serve the answers. Will you just answer the question, or send them to a website?
Decide if you want your bot to have a name and a personality. Should your bot have attitude? Will it tell jokes? Is it male, female or alien?
Discussing these topics will help you get ready before you start the exploratory work of finding the right bot designer. Fees vary considerably.
Yes, you can build your first chatbot for free. Just search for “free chatbot” on the web and you’ll see a list of options.
For larger stations, or groups who can invest in enterprise level development, for $50k to $100k you should be able to develop a highly customized bot.
Consider having your bot sponsored to generate revenue. Combine the online mention with on-air plugs: “Got questions about entertainment options in Sacramento? Try our new Facebook Chat Bot, sponsored by Citizen’s Bank. We also running a contest for a name …. Name our chatbot and win $200 from the Citizens Bank vault.”
Chatbots are increasingly designed with artificial intelligence, so they learn as they gather more information about what users want to know. Also determine if you want your Facebook Messenger chatbot to work on your website, because some bots can be configured to do so.
GO OLD(ER) SCHOOL
A chatbot is one way to go beyond the busy signal or unanswered phone. Another option, I’ve mentioned in previous articles, but because it’s rarely adopted, I keep plugging this simple solution: text messaging.
Just a few days ago, my local rock station was giving tickets away to a hot, sold-out concert. The station was, as usual, asking for caller number nine. This approach, which probably started in 1942, severely limits participation. One person gets through, while hundreds — or even thousands — of other excited contestants get a busy signal, which is horrible customer service.
Ideally, stations should want to create the largest possible contest universe (as many players as possible). I’m a huge fan of texting (SMS) because it’s so easy for listeners, plus all the enterprise systems I’ve used allow an auto-response. This auto-response gives you a chance to send a custom message, thanking them for entering and then promoting the next time to listen for tickets, or anything else you want.
If you want to add another way to enter, you can also use Twitter, What’s App or Facebook Messenger. I don’t think explaining how to do that is worth the on-air time, but at least these platforms permit mass participation and that’s the name of the game.
The more listeners you contact regularly, the greater the likelihood you can build connections, authority and trust.
The author is president of Lapidus Media. He can be reached at [email protected].