A deep dive into how YFM racked up over a million competition entries during a global pandemic, and doubled app usage in just two weeks.
Popular South African youth-focused radio station, YFM, recently marked a major milestone - one million entries for a competition in just two weeks - turbo boosting listener engagement and doubling usage of its smartphone app.
The station’s Head of Digital, Hilton Tarrant, attributed the success of the 100Racks promotion to its integration as part of a wider audience outreach strategy and effective deployment of Fabrik, the technology platform the station uses as the backbone to its app and its communication with listeners.
Since March 2020, radio programming in South Africa has been dominated by all things Covid-19, and many broadcasting platforms found themselves having to pivot rapidly to keep their audiences engaged with topical information during a time of global uncertainty. From daily statistics to coverage on government’s ongoing response, and from features on precautionary measures to advice on how to keep yourself occupied - all media was Corona-media.
But YFM's approach to their Youth Month campaign was strikingly different.
Speaking on a recent webinar hosted by Fabrik’s Jonathan Lumley, Tarrant said that while YFM wasn’t the only broadcaster to pivot rapidly to offer its audience relevant information during the Covid-19 crisis, its approach had been different in several significant ways, most notably being insights-driven and laser-focused on reaching its most engaged audience segment.
YFM's Hilton Tarrant explores the campaign with Fabrik’s Jonathan Lumley
That started with the name of the competition, 100Racks – a reference to the slang term for money, “rack”, and the R100 000 the station intended to give away over the fortnight it would run the promotion.
YFM had tested the waters with similar contests in August 2019 and in March 2020, but 100Racks run in June 2020 was its most sustained and successful competition yet.
It ran several times daily across the station’s breakfast, lunchtime, drivetime and evening slots. This was done not only to reach as wide an audience as possible and drive up time spent listening (TSL), but also to gain valuable insights into audience numbers and behaviour for each of these time slots.
A different keyword was given during each of five broadcast slots throughout the day, starting at 5am and ending at 10pm, each giving listeners a chance to win R2000.
“Given the prevailing atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty the overarching theme of the 100Racks campaign in June was one of positivity, of looking forward with hope, so we picked keywords that would drive home this message amongst our audience,” Tarrant said.
YFM levels up
Another key objective was to build on and consolidate efforts started with the earlier competitions to educate its audience about the YFM app, encourage downloads and, ultimately, to drive registrations in the app.
“We saw fairly early on in the Covid crisis that the lockdown would accelerate the fundamental shift in listener habits already underway and we wanted to be ahead of that curve,” Tarrant said.
“It was important for us to take our most engaged audience – those who would download the app and put it on the home screen of their iPhone or Android device, and to grow the size of that audience and take them into - and through - lockdown with us.”
To be in the running for a slice of the R100,000 prize pool, listeners had to not only download the app, but register. The response, Tarrant said, was staggering – more than 1.1 million entries and a 100% increase in app downloads.
YFM's downloads increased by 100% during June
“Importantly, this followed a similar doubling of app downloads during the previous competition in March, so the process seems to be fairly repeatable.”
Hear from YFM's Digital Manager Hilton Tarrant about results of the campaign.
An interesting outcome over the campaign’s two weeks was how YFM was able to see their live-streaming engagement double. From consolidated audio streaming statistics that included data from the app, website and third-party streaming aggregators, the station were able to see that listeners were accessing the stream more often during the day, and for longer periods of time, indicating a structural shift to retained listenership throughout the day for the duration of the campaign.
YFM's audio engagement doubled during 100Racks
Fabrik redefines the integrated campaign
Tarrant said the 100Racks competition had also allowed YFM to bring the full functionality of the software backbone, Fabrik, to bear. “As early adopters of Fabrik, we were quick to see its enormous potential. 100Racks allowed us to put this to excellent use.”
This ranged from the highly flexible way in which DJs were able to tailor their interactions with listeners to organising and helping to analyse the wealth of valuable insights generated over the two weeks of the competition, and beyond.
The software allows its owners to utilise a single platform to manage all their content and communicate with customers or members with the ease of the real-time and socialised behaviour they have already adopted for their existing social media channels – but without any of the associated privacy or reputational risks.
Fabrik already counts its commercial clients in the double figures, some of South Africa’s most popular radio stations among them, with listeners having used the free app to send and receive several million messages, significantly boosting engagement between the stations and their listenership.
The take-up has since seen it being offered to community radio stations as well as neighbourhood and special interest groups.
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