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Webinar Takeaways: Melody Kramer of Fresh Air on the Digital Life of Shows

By Josie Keller, PBS Interactive

On May 31, Melody Kramer, web producer for NPR's Fresh Air, discussed her social media strategy for the show. While the webinar was for public radio stations, much of Melody’s strategy can be applied to #localPBS stations as well. Here are my takeaways from Melody’s webinar:

Don’t be afraid to experiment

While Melody claims a lack of strategy behind her web success, she’s clearly doing something right. NPR Fresh Air’s web metrics have increased steadily under her direction. A trial and error approach can be incredibly useful in social media, given the real-time nature of posts and responses. Shares, replies, likes, and re-tweets provide instant affirmation that your audience is engaged in your content. If your audience doesn’t engage, don’t over-think it or get stuck in inaction, just try a different approach. Always be willing to adjust your strategy, and have some fun while you’re doing it.

Ask Yourself: What kind of audience is using each platform and what would they like to see?

Not all social media platforms are created equal and each will help you engage with a different segment of your audience. NPR's Fresh Air engages on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ daily in that order of importance. Each station should evaluate their own areas of greatest engagement and spend the most time on platforms that provide the most ROI. Melody suggests visualizing one person in the target audience for each platform and basing your content on what that person would want to see.

Here’s what works for NPR's Fresh Air:

  • Tumblr: Visual blog platform used to promote the show (upcoming guests and quotes from interviews) with a fun twist (easy to re-blog GIFs and photos). Targets other journalists who also use Tumblr, 20-40 year olds with desk jobs, & students.
  • Twitter: Used to get immediate feedback, correct errors in time for the second broadcast, ask questions, and goof off. Helpful as a search field to see when people are mentioning topics related to the show or find the people who are tuning in and connect with them. Largely a younger audience.
  • Facebook: Good platforms for polls, questions, & behind the scenes photos. Slightly older audience than Tumblr and Twitter.
  • Pinterest and Google+: Melody describes these platforms as niche audiences and largely ignores them besides one daily post. PBS, on the other hand, has had huge success engaging on Pinterest.

Give your social media accounts a voice

Melody writes her web content from the personal perspective of a 27 year old working in public radio. This exact approach won’t work for everyone, but my main takeaway from this portion of the webinar was the importance of giving your social media accounts a coherent voice, especially if you have multiple people contributing to them. For this, it is imperative to not only clearly identify your intended audience, but also decide what you want to tell them and how you want to convey it. Whether that voice is goofy, informative, heartwarming, or personal is completely up to each individual station.

We'd love to hear about your station's successes (and failures) in social media land. Please post comments and questions below.

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