Getting Interactive (3 free tools)

Hello and welcome to the first CrowZone Radio blog post on WordPress. We’ve tested other blog sites and now WordPress gets a turn!

This first blog will look at our experiences in the last year of broadcasting at getting “interactive” with our listeners and I hope it will be helpful to you in whatever you are working on currently.

Why get interactive anyway?

Crowzone Radio is one of thousands of newly formed Internet Radio stations, like all stations we want to build our listener base but we don’t have any money, other than what we are able to afford personally, to advertise or market our station.

We’ve been incredibly lucky to build a really supportive audience, with lots of regular listeners and listeners who drop in when they can. It’s actually like a big family really.

We want people to listen, it’s vanity of course, but it’s why we do it in the first place. We want people to stay listening, and to do that we try to get interactive.

How can you get interactive for little or no cost?

The internet offers us many ways of connecting with our audience, some have been more successful than others for us but all have their place.

The overriding factor with these tools is that they must be easy to use and easy to “surface” on our webpage. We use Weebly to create our website and that will allow us to embed HTML and iframes with ease (I can thoroughly recommend Weebly if you’re looking for a website generation tool….and it’s free).

Chatting

Chatting has been the most successful tool for engaging with our audience. It’s huge fun and really helps our live shows go with a swing. Our listeners comment in real time on the shows, make requests and even research tunes for us as we go along. They’ve even coined the term ‘Zoners on the chat box!

Chatroll (www.chatroll.com) which worked very well and got our listeners talking to the studio and to each other with ease. It was easy to install and worked very reliably. It was pretty basic but easy

chatroll logoenough to administer. The downside was as a free service we were limited to 10 users. Sadly this was not often a problem for us but we want to be ready for when we hit the big time and so we moved onto a service called:

ChatWING (www.chatwing.com) – another free service (hurrah for free services) but this time

chatWING logo
chatWING

with no user limits. It also has more funky features to keep listeners engaged with (emoticons, image insertion, rich text) and is highly tailorable so it fits in with your site.

We did experience some issues with users not being able to access the service, possibly due to cookies or firewalls, but we seem to got over those now. Currently we’re trying to resolve an issue we call “Stealth Users” where we can’t see who is logged in, and nor can they! It’s not the end of the world and the functionality we get is worth the pain.

Support is via their Facebook page, but I guess you get what you pay for.

PureChat (www.purechat.com) – I was looking for one of those “operator online” type chat functions before we got into the the whole chatroom idea, and came across this tool. We use it for one to one conversations, when people don’t want to converse in public. You can have purechata number of operators (all free!) and whoever is logged in can take any incoming conversations.

Clearly the tool is designed for call-center type operations, but it works well for us too. We’ve designed our own logo that floats over our homepage inviting users to chat to us. If we’re not in the studio then the message gets sent as an email.

One useful thing we have found – operators can chat directly to each other, so we use this for discussions “behind the scenes” conversations during live shows.

I’ll leave discussions over Facebook, Twitter, Mailers, IP Phones, Video Conferencing for further posts!

I’ll also cover the player Software we use and tools available to organise and manage your music libraries.

I hope you’ll bookmark our blog, and please help us reach the world by sharing and liking…feel the love!

Steve Howe – CZR

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Getting Interactive (3 free tools)

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