“Social Media has made radio think smarter about where to put content,” says Nick Hancock, Deputy Group Content Director of multi-media company UKRD, and presenter of the Stray FM Breakfast Show.
In this week’s #KnapChat, radio presenter Nick Hancock talks about his 20-year career in radio broadcasting. He began as a volunteer in hospital radio, soon moved to Lincs FM, and now, having worked all over the
KW: At what point in your career did you notice social media begin to influence broadcast content? How has engaging with your listeners changed since the advent of social media?
Nick: Social media has played a big part in what we do for at least ten years now. Stray FM targets 25 to 54 year olds who are big Facebook users. Our Facebook page has about 30,000 followers so it’s a great way to market what we’re doing on the radio (things like competitions and events). Facebook is also the biggest driver of traffic to our website (this is mostly local news stories and information like Travel News).
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have provided listeners with new ways of getting in touch with the radio station and are a great resource for presenters and journalists to find out what’s happening locally and nationally that could be of interest to our listeners.
KW: How do you ensure your content and tone of voice on social media matches that of your radio broadcasting?
Nick: On air at Stray FM we are warm, friendly, and very proud of (and interested in) the local area. We aim to be exactly the same online. We are a very ‘family friendly’ radio station – parents can listen with their kids so we never post anything rude or share anything that may be even mildly offensive – that’s not our thing!
KW: How do you nurture relationships with your listeners using social media?
Nick: We aim to respond as quickly as we can to listeners who get in touch with us on social. We try and respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion (for example, if we are getting lots of comments on a big local news story).
We ask to use content from local people on our social platforms quite a bit too – if someone has taken a great picture of Harrogate looking lovely in the sunshine we will ask if we can post it on our Instagram and so far nobody has ever said no!
KW: Has social media had a negative impact on your industry in any way? For instance, is it harder to sell advertising space now than it was 10 years ago? Has the age of podcasts damaged the notion of communal listening?
Nick: Advertising revenues and radio listening figures are higher than ever before and that is probably due to radio staying contemporary by being very present on social media platforms and therefore staying relevant.
Social media has made radio think smarter about where to put content. Platforms like Facebook are very complimentary to radio as they often have big audiences at night time whereas radio has a peak at breakfast time.
There is more competition than ever for listeners from podcasts to Spotify and new digital stations (of which there are hundreds!), so you have to be good at what you do to hold your audience!
KW: How would you define the role of Radio Presenter?
Nick: The best radio presenters should sound like a good friend.
They understand a bit about your life, they know what’s important to you and they make you laugh occasionally!
KW: If you could go back to the start of your career, what advice would you give yourself?
Nick: Remember nothing stays the same forever! If you don’t go with all the changes, somebody else will, and you’ll get left behind. Your audience also need to see you adapting and keeping up to date.
KW: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Nick: I really love my job and it is an absolute privilege to be on the radio at breakfast time (even with the 4am starts!) so I’ve enjoyed the whole thing really and feel lucky not to have had a proper job yet!
KW: Which broadcaster’s use of social media do you admire most?
Nick: I really like Sara Cox. Funny, real and topical. She’s doing a brilliant job at the moment.
KW: Finally, which song do you never get tired of hearing on the radio?
Nick: Oasis – Champagne Supernova
I expected Nick to be slightly critical of social media. I was of the belief that the popularity of the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, along with the arrival of hundreds if not thousands of digital radio stations, only serves to dilute news, advertising revenue and presenter appeal. It would seem I was wrong.
Nick and his colleagues at Stray FM and UKRD clearly embrace the changes and opportunities that the rise of social media brings, making them work to their advantage, and increasing listener figures in the process. After all, having more access than ever to your audience can only be beneficial in terms of engaging with them.
Rain or shine, Nick gets up at 4am every weekday to make the 48 mile trip to work across North Yorkshire. He has even been known to go into the station an hour earlier when it’s snowing, so that the breakfast show can advise listeners on road and school closures. He really loves it, and his enthusiasm absolutely shines through.
During our chat, he told me he’d ‘do it for nothing’. Not many of us can say that (hopefully his boss isn’t reading this…)