After last years rousing hubbub of Social Media revolution at Radio 1, I did wonder what exactly Laura would be letting us in on this time with a title like, What Would Beyonce do? I figured miming didn’t lend to radio very well, Nor do her sensational dance moves, you certainly can’t put a ring on radio. So maybe it was a reference to the ‘Survivor’ attitude of the radio medium enduring the rise of TV and the Internet. But no, it was a reference to Twitter and the inspiring re-birth of a show that had endured massive success with a huge following that was about to turn into something very different.
Laura May’s job when she visited the University of Westminster for a guest lecture in the Story Sound Image and Text module was the Head of Social Media at R1 and 1Xtra. We heard stories of Reading and Leeds, Hackney weekend, innovative ways to get the audience involved in listening bringing the listeners to the heart of the content. She is now the social media producer for Nick Grimshaw’s @R1Breakfast show.
And what would Beyonce Do is she faced the massive task of getting people into a new morning routine after 8 years of a presenter they knew and love? She’d be Silent. When Beyonce got a twitter account she didn’t tell everyone about her breakfast, how hung over she was, she didn’t even post a picture of her Starbucks; She just let it build. This is exactly what happened with the new Breakfast show. Laura explained how they set up spaces for it, mainly the @R1Breakfast Twitter, and using all the other noisy spaces they had pointed people to the account. She explained how silence was golden and rather than having a dull and dreary count down with the usual teases and taunts, the account just slowly built as listeners all over the country wondered and anticipated what would be their new morning ritual or maybe, their new friend?
Laura explained how she wanted to not just re-launch the show with its social media, but create an ego, a character with them. One that people could really interact with and come to know. From hashtags like #TeamGrimmy, spoof videos, and clips of the show she took content to the people because as she explained its all well and good having a brand, an ego but long gone are the days when you can rely solely on people coming to that ego.
The most interesting concept Laura spoke of was that of Fandom, with stars like Justin Bieber, One Direction, Taylor Swift no-matter how much research you do, you are never going to get close to the way their ‘Super’ “I’M YOUR NUMBER ONE FANS” know them. So Laura’s team set up Skype calls, phone interviews and got the super fans to ask the questions. Why? Because they already know the usual semantics that the DJ asks, its new to the DJ but not the fans; so in order to give them something new you have to let them ask. Nothing new I hear you scream? What’s wrong with texting in, even tweeting in questions? Laura provided an opportunity for them to have a real fan experience, it was personal it gave them their 15 minutes of fame in such a new and massive way. And whats interesting about all of this? That in turn made them a super fan of @R1Breakfast.
At the end of the lecture one member of the audience spoke of the Rajar figures and how despite all this wonder and bemusement they still hadn’t quite retained Chris Moyles numbers. However despite them still being very good (Only a 40,000 average listeners difference for a show that had 6.7 million average listeners & intentionally ditched the more mature audience of its predecessor in an intentional vote of confidence in a new generation of listeners) What the Rajar figures don’t contain are everything that the breakfast show is doing, in all the places that people are. 15,000 listeners on Soundcloud when Nick Grimshaw ‘Woke’ up Harry styles, over a 1 million views on Youtube for a spoof video where Nick and guests click – and join the #BreakfastClique, International coverage of celebs ‘Instagrim’ (Photobooth) pictures, and incredibly 23,000 tumblr re-posts?
The future of Radio is not in live listening, although that will always be an element, its in investing in your audience by truly connecting with them where they are; Not just keeping happy the one that come to you.
So when in Doubt. Ask Yourself, What would Laura May Coope do?
A Special thanks to Laura for giving us at Westminster time and valuable insight into your work. You can find out more about Laura on her site ‘Milk Teef’ or by following her on twitter @LauraMayCoope