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Zoom as a Radio Research and Promo Tool

Video conferencing can be used by a station to boost relationships, engagement and ratings

Zoom meeting Getty Images Leo Patrizi
Getty Image/ Leo Patrizi

Life goes by in a f-l-a-s-h. One minute, I’m changing diapers … the next, my daughter is getting married! The June wedding, planned pre-pandemic, was moved to September with some hope for safer conditions. Of course, now we truly understand that we can’t predict when the virus will be vanquished.

We have our own new life partner and it is spelled Z-o-o-m.

Okay, maybe you prefer Go To Meeting, Google Meetings, or Skype; but whichever brand platform you prefer, video conferencing/webcasting has had a massive impact on our lives and is here to stay as part of our daily landscape.

As if sitting at my dining room table for hours every day for Zoom calls weren’t enough to convince me, I am now completely certain of Zoom’s ubiquity; many more people watched my daughter’s wedding online than were able to attend in person. And they loved it, really feeling the spirit and joy of it all.

Suddenly it occurred to me that even if there weren’t a pandemic going on, it still makes sense to have a Zoom feed available for those who can’t attend personal events. Then I started thinking about other Zoom uses for a station to boost relationships, engagement and ratings.

Focus Zoom

How do listeners feel about your station? Traditional focus groups are expensive, time-consuming and not always conclusive because it’s impossible to do enough sessions to detect trends.

What if you started doing them in a format people are now accustomed to using, like Zoom? You could solicit volunteers with a simple message: “We’d like to hear your thoughts about our ‘Joe in the Morning Show.’ The first 20 people who Zoom with us tonight at 7 p.m. get free pizza from Jerry’s. To sign up, just text your email address to 004445.”

While it may be a challenge to host focus groups on your own, it can be done well. Like anything else, it takes practice.

Come up with 10 questions you want answered. Ask the same questions of each group. Encourage everyone to participate.

Record five sessions. Compare the answers. If each unconnected group says the same thing, you’re onto something to explore further.

Happy Hour Zoom

Want to build relationships face-to-face with your listeners? How about a Zoom happy hour once a week?

Be prepared to join with topics, music videos to share on screen, maybe movie clips — fun things to kick around. Most importantly, let your listeners talk and get to know you as a real person; they’ll feel like they’re getting to know others on the call as well.

Remember that you can mute your group and set it up so that you call on people when they want to speak. Word will spread fast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to start limiting attendance.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Got a special live or pre-recorded performance to share? A special one-time-only premiere on Zoom will be remembered.

Run a contest for a “backstage pass” to hang on Zoom with a band in your format, or to meet a newsmaker or celebrity.

A word to the wise: Be sure to invest in a Zoom paid account. It’s not that pricy to increase time and attendance limits.

Haters will say that driving people to Zoom instead of listening to radio won’t do a thing to increase ratings. I am not at all suggesting you’ll be driving tens of thousands to Zoom. You won’t be that lucky.

The purpose is to create memories and loyalty that will spread gradually and consistently over time. Creating personal connections both during and after COVID is something stations of all sizes can accomplish.

Virtual relationships aren’t exactly like those that happen in person, but “being there” from a distance will still create many smiles — just like a wedding!

Reach the author at [email protected]. Read more great promotion and management articles from Mark Lapidus.