When exploited effectively, social media, YouTube and other digital media can be the best friends that broadcast radio ever had. That’s the lesson that was taught by Alex Poon, General Manager of Tech and Shared Services at Malaysia’s Media Prima, during his ‘Driving Audiences from Digital to FM’ talk at Radiodays Asia. This was a two day in-person/online conference staged at Malaysia’s Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur hotel September 6–7, 2022.
Digital Media and Radio Go Together
Poon’s premise during his talk is that digital media can serve as a promotional vehicle for broadcast radio, while also improvising two-way communications between on-air talent and listeners.
Poon said 97% of radio listeners are listening directly on home, office or car radios, or indirectly through their computers, mobile phones and via apps such as AUDIO+, which hosts his company’s five radio streams. Of those listeners, 35% are spending more time interacting on radio stations via social media pages, he added, an increase that is strengthening their ties to the Media Prima brand.
It is for this reason that “we are friends with the digital platforms, not enemies,” Poon said. “Combining radio and digital improves the two-way connection and engagement with the listeners.”
Leveraging Social Media to Boost Radio Listenership
According to Poon, Media Prima’s five FM radio stations (collectively known as Media Prima Audio) collectively have about 20 million social media followers. This kind of following allows his radio division to grab attention by staging live concerts on Facebook, or by leveraging the marriage of a famous Malaysian celebrity online by announcing that one of her favorite songs would be played on one of Media Prima Audio’s FM stations tomorrow morning.
“This is how we actually drive the audience from digital back to FM,” said Poon.
Taking Advantage of YouTube
Another way that Media Prima Audio uses digital to drive its radio listenership is by live-streaming its radio broadcasts on YouTube, where the company has some 976,000 subscribers. In this model, the company’s radio fans can listen to Media Prima Audios on FM in the car, then continue listening at work via YouTube.
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Encouraging Interaction via the App
Media Prime Audio’s decision to consolidate its five station feeds onto the AUDIO+ app is making it easier for listeners to chat with its on-air-talent, in addition to accessing all of the company’s FM audio streams. Poon noted that litener interactions with on-air talent can be a challenge due to time constraints. But when the feedback has been sent to them via the AUDIO+ app, they can review and respond to it “any time that they want.”
Media Prima Audio is also happy to share its streams with potential competitors such as Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify, said Poon – because these sites offer the opportunity to extend his company’s reach. As a result, instead of being enemies, “we become frenemies,” he joked.
Online Radio Saves Data Usage
In his closing remarks, Poon pointed out that, for those who don’t have direct access to radio at work and have to go to the web for entertainment, online radio is the irmost economical choir when it comes to paid data consumption.
The reason? On an hourly basis, online radio “only consumes 21.6 megabytes of data,” he said. In comparison, “simply scrolling through social media pages for 60 minutes consumes about 100 meg.” Meanwhile, watching an online video at a resolution of 360 pixels consumes about 160 MB of data.
Poon urged all radio stations to communicate this data-saving fact to their online listeners. What he didn’t say – but is worth noting – is that encouraging people to take pocket FM radios to work with earbuds uses no paid data at all, which is the ultimate cost argument for tuning to radio everywhere.