Training On Demand: How To Start Your Public Radio Show Off Right On Social Media

Mar 18, 2014

Facebook and Twitter can be a powerful tool for public radio programs of all sizes.
Credit Maria Elena/Flickr

Growing your show’s social media presence can feel challenging at times, especially when you’re just starting out. But many of the basics that help reporters and stations find their foothold can help shows too. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started with social media:

Studio 360's Twitter account clearly identifies their focus, as well as who runs the account and the host's personal Twitter handles.
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

 Make the most out of Twitter:

Start by defining your show account’s focus. What areas and topics does your show regularly cover? Do you have special recurring segments? Make sure to link to your host’s account (if it’s separate) and share who on staff is curating the account.

Be a storyteller, not a wire service:  

  • Listen. Listen to the people in your community, to the people who share your interests, newsmakers, and tastemakers.
  • Engage. Twitter is for conversation. Don’t expect the topic(s) you’re covering on the show to be enough to get your audience thinking. If you want great response online, ask the right questions. Watch out for questions that only elicit yes, or no answers. Instead, present the problem you’ll tackle in the segment and ask for their insight.
  • Tweet when you have something important to add, not just to be promotional. Save live tweeting for when you have an incredible guest, or are covering a developing local news story. Otherwise, post great quotes or facts from the show throughout the day, with a link to where users can find the full audio or write up.

Don't expect sharing a link to be enough on Facebook:  

As handy as the auto-fill function may be when you're posting a link to Facebook, you can be doing a lot more to make sure what you are share finds traction.

NHPR's Word Of Mouth took to Facebook to get their followers take on their Pi Day Pie Contest.
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

  • Include a compelling visual. Images attract viewers attention, so if your post does not have an image to include, reconsider sharing it.
  • Write strong statuses for each post, and tailor the preview text to engage listeners. A great quote or fact from the segment will work better with Facebook users than the promo for the segment.
  • Play with timing. Certain times of day will be better for catching your audience’s attention than others, and it may not correspond with when your show is on air. Experiment to see what works for your show.  

You can find more on how to make the most of your posts on Facebook here.

  Stay connected with guests:

Include social media in the booking process. Before the show,get your guest’s social media information, and share your show’s with them. Then, when sharing the segment on Twitter or Facebook, use their social media information to connect with their community.

OPB's Think Out Loud makes their social media information easily accessible to their guests, so they can tweet about appearing on the show, like journalist Laura Fosmire did here.
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

To find more resources designed especially for shows, take a look at these tips and tricks from WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show and NHPR's Word Of Mouth. You can also check out Training On Demand: How Public Radio Shows Can Help Their Stories Succeed Online.

Here at Digital Services, we're checking in with shows around the country about their digital best practices and strategies. Have a suggestion for a person or show to talk to? Email it to ejohnson1@npr.org, or send us a tweet @NPRDS.