When Royal Media Services was set up in the nineties, one would have thought that it aimed to serve the country’s leadership dynasties from the name alone. On the contrary, their first media brand was Citizen TV which has truly lived up to its name by serving the largest audiences in Kenya and their multitude of radio brands are so far reaching that people refer to the mother company as ‘Citizen’ rather than its formal name.
We’ve picked up a number of insights from their success in traditional media which can be translated into new media with regards to engaging audiences. The popularity of the flagship TV stations was based on their reverence to the entertainment corridor between 7pm and 10pm consisting of news, telenovelas and local dramas.
The three genres of content are the most popular among Kenyans and it would constitute a cardinal sin to interfere with the perfect scheduling within that time because the entire family can sit together in the evening and enjoy the broadcast. Throw in a political talk show during the entertainment corridor and you’ll cause a mutiny in the household.
The radio stations on the other hand take a different approach based on the fact that the consumption habits are different from those of television because its more personal. There are a greater number of radios per household than there are televisions and the individual preferences result in heightened audience fragmentation.
In response to this ‘Citizen’ launched several radio stations to offer different strokes for different folks and what we experienced was an explosion of radio consumption throughout the country, firstly because of the novelty of having vernacular stations and then because the content was relevant to the listeners circumstance.
The difference is between the written word and the spoken word. Kiswahili radio stations and news bulletins on television tend to do very well, yet their counterparts in print don’t. This stems from the fact that we are not purists when it comes to language and incorporate colloquial speech which isn’t used in formal writing thus the expressions are lost in translation.
The popular approach in social media engagement is based on the mass audience, group consumption that is common in television scheduling. We attempt to create one message for all audiences as if they are going to view the message together, but in reality they are not going to do so because the internet has become a very private affair.
Everyone owns their connecting device and they mainly consume the content on their own and then share it with others who will in turn view it on their own, and so forth. This trend indicates that we should adopt the radio fragmentation approach to content and advertising.
Drop universal messaging and make it personal through content created to engage specific audience segments. From fragmentation we found that people felt more at ease within homogenous groups, and they frequently called-in and interacted with the radio presenters, which they didn’t do with the national stations of days gone by.
Once we appreciate that our audiences are fragmented, we can invest in the right type of content and creative ideas that will touch their hearts and minds and the ROI indicators will make an about-turn into the positive.