Three ways to engage audiences beyond social media

Image: Pixabay

Everyone knows social media can be a powerful way to engage the audiences of legacy platforms like tv and radio. If you don’t know that, well…. there’s probably not a lot I could say that would be of any help.

Social media can be an excellent, meaningful tool for the modern newsroom. Still yet, it has its limitations. You are at the mercy of complex algorithms determining who sees what and there is the ever-present fact that social media does not result in face-to-face, in-person communication.

So, how else can we engage audiences in ways that increase loyalty to both our product and to those of our advertisers?


Events instantly solve the problem of no face-to-face interaction, carrying a similar value as the localism contained within TV and radio newscasts across the country. There is huge potential in the fact that people like to live local. They appreciate local restaurants, local causes and local events.

Get your team together and brainstorm ideas for events you could potentially host to bring people together while putting your brand in front of them. If hosting your own event is not an option, look for others you could partner with. In either case, your sales team should see opportunity and you will benefit from increased engagement and brand awareness.

Real-Time, Text Engagement

According to the Pew Research Center, texting is the most commonly used feature of smartphones in the United States. The good news for media outlets: we have ways to put this popularity to use.

There are a multitude of services that will turn a conventional phone line into one that can not only receive calls, but also SMS text messages. Turning on this capability for one of your station phone lines instantly creates a two-way avenue for interaction and engagement with your audience. To drive the activity, you’ll need to share appropriate bites of this content on-air and have someone dedicated to responding so that listeners/viewers know that they are engaged and appreciated.

I won’t make any suggestions for what service you use, but do your research! Prices vary significantly and the level of service at a higher price point may not bring you additional benefit. (PRO TIP: A service may say you are limited to a certain number of messages each month. However, that number may apply only to outgoing messages. Be sure to call and ask.)

Viewer/Listener Generated Content

This one is somewhat of a cheat since you could use social media as the platform on which you receive it. To your advantage, the cell phone has turned a large percentage of the population into potential journalists/storytellers/videographers/etc. While these newfound media pros can publish online until their hearts are content, you have a platform they would love to be a part of.

Use of timely and appropriate viewer/listener generated content will benefit your news product and engage those audience members who shared it (not to mention their family and friends). Despite the possibility for instant publishing online, there remains a celebrity and fulfillment factor for the submitting individual when you use his or her content on-air. This creates engagement and loyalty.

Not convinced? Think about how you felt the first time a larger news organization used your piece or had you on to explain an important story.