I was reading Robert Scoble’s post where he talked about the need to measure ‘engagement’ more than just hits or downloads and it made me think about Chill. You might be aware that i’ve helped out with Chill, it’s one of our new digital stations. Chill’s still a very small operation with Bern (one of our programme controllers) mainly looking after it. As it’s small i’ve given him a hand with it, pushing the creation of some of it’s community elements and maximising broadcast coverage where we can.
I have no doubt that Chill is going to be a huge success over the next few years (already it has half a million listening hours) . One of the reasons its gained some ‘traction’, to use a horrible term, is that we’ve concentrated on servicing a community at MySpace. As well as all the usual friends and comments guff we’ve also used the blog as the main channel to talk about the station’s development and repsond to listeners’ queries.
However, starting with an open standpoint means that you have to continue being open through all of your communications. And as we’re seen to be quite approachable online we get a lot of email. We get much more email than we should get for the size of station we are, but it keeps coming. Relentlessly. This means that we have to respond to it. Even the one that says: “Hi, I know this is very very vague. But I’ve been trying to find out details about one of your tracks that you were playing quite regularly a couple of weeks ago… I would love to know what it is! It was a female vocalist, and the lyrics included something about lighthouse. Thanks”. There’s a lots like this.
What we do know is that it’s important to reply, because the people who communicate with us are our core audience. They’re the people who will spread the good word of Chill to others and build the station for us. They’ll also be the people who listen longer and drive our hours and they’re the people who will buy our branded CDs and come to our concerts. If done right that’s the deal you make when you start any kind of ‘community’. If you want something, you have to give something, and keep giving it. That’s a new part of your full-time job. And while it can be annoying, it can be rewarding – Bern can’t stop raving about the new material that he’s been sent by listeners (usually through MySpace) that he’s directly put on the radio station.
In this case i’m not really worried about growing Chill’s page impressions, or listening hours I just know that will be the end result of building a proper community.