How one Sveriges Radio broadcast reached every young person in Sweden

Musikhjälpen broadcast venue that aims to engage young people.
Musikhjälpen broadcast venue that aims to engage young people.

Have you heard of Music Aid (“Musikhjälpen” in Swedish)? 

If you are a Swede between the ages of 15 and 34, chances are almost 100% that you have, according to our surveys. 

Here’s why: 

Step 1: Make it appealing. 

The concept might seem simple at first – put a studio/concert venue in a central square in a city somewhere in Sweden. Throw three show hosts in the mix that broadcast around the clock on radio, TV, the Web, and social media for a total of 144 hours. Season it with an annual fundraising cause, and then welcome guests on the show to take part in the fundraiser. 

However, Musikhjälpen isn’t your average fundraiser. It is a fundraiser where the main focus isn’t the money. 

Step 2: Focus on what matters. 

Since it began in 2008, Music Aid has been driven by its audience both online and on air. Every contribution matters and is applauded equally, no matter if the guest visiting the show is Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, or a boy named Gustav, aged 5, who is emptying his piggy bank and giving a heartfelt speech about the importance of access to clean water for everyone. 

The main goal of Music Aid is to get young people informed and engaged about an underreported humanitarian crisis in the world.

Previous years have covered the UN’s Millennium Goals, such as access to clean water in urban slums, the right to a safe pregnancy and girls’ education. In 2014, Musikhjälpen highlighted stopping the spread of HIV in the world, and the topic was mentioned on air and online hour after hour by experts, kids, celebrities and politicians alike. 

At Musikhjälpen 2014, social media was not a parallel universe, but a main artery of the project. A team of eight, handpicked social media journalists from across Swedish Radio were assigned roles as producers, content creators, and community managers across 9 different social media platforms

Having a dedicated team makes it possible to specialise and create a social media newsroom, that answers any questions coming in from the audience; educates them about HIV through infographics, interviews, and film clips; prevents chaos from forming; and gathers tons and tons of user generated content that can be followed up on air.

That is aimed at driving the content of the show in everything from who gets put on air, to tasks that the show hosts can’t succeed without help from the audience.

In this way, it was possible to reach a diverse audience on their own turf, through content integration in the broadcast as well as social media.

We usually refer to the philosophy as the “360 model,” where activities on social media end up on air and what happens on air goes back on the Web and social media. That’s achieved by focusing on native content that is customised for each platform, not just a link to the Web site. 

The news selection for social media content is done independently and mirrors the engagement of Musikhjälpen, no matter if it takes place on or off air. Celebrities performing on the show compete on equal terms with stories from the audience and special content from behind the scenes. The broadcast team can give assignments to the hosts on air that make them dependent on contributions and interaction from the audience.

Step 3: Watch the magic happen.

Our social media metrics are extraordinary, especially considering Swedish is a language understood by comparatively few. 

Musikhjälpen reaches millions every year on social media – 1.9 million unique users via Facebook alone, almost exclusively through organic post reach. Out of those unique users, more than 300,000 actively engaged as well during the broadcast week in 2014, by clicking, commenting or otherwise interacting with the content. In total, posts from Musikhjälpen’s Facebook page were shown 28 million times. 

But the numbers are only a side effect that follows when you put the audience at the center and focus on empowering them with real influence, instead of seeing them as a tool for providing you with site clicks.

In the survey I initially mentioned, where almost everyone in the target group answered that they had heard about Musikhjälpen, a large majority also replied “yes” to the question: “I can influence the content of Musikhjälpen.” 

When you invest in humility, trust, and respect in your audience, they are guaranteed to reciprocate.

About Yasmine El Rafie

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