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Growing social engagement: From techno to Twitter

How does a production company that started by making underground dance music radio shows find itself running social media workshops, consulting on arts marketing, teaching a biotech firm how to blog and helping plan the Social Media Week in Glasgow?

Inner Ear has diversified over the years, partly through necessity and also to take advantages of new opportunities.

Its online radio station Radio Magnetic, started in March 2001, is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. Around 150,000 people a month listen to the eclectic mix of shows and features on what’s become the UK’s longest running internet radio station. The content is very niche and it always remained cult and underground. But that doesn’t stop it doing deals with relevant consumer brands. Radio Magnetic is the official media partner for Tennent’s Lager’s T Break this year.

"Rather than move our champion of alternative music into the mainstream, Inner Ear has kept it pure and instead turned our collective hand to a suite of other services that we’ve been offering to clients for most of our ten plus years," says company founder Dougal Perman. "Content creation and communication is at the heart of what we do. We learned our trade while building Radio Magnetic, which has outlived many of its rivals and developed amidst a new media sea change. The internet was a very different place in 2001."

Like many people working in media, marketing and music today, Inner Ear is interested in social media. Content is crucially important, whether that’s podcasts and videos, blogs, images, presentations, polls or tweets. But creating content isn’t enough, even if it gets to lots of eyes and ears, says Perman. "We want people to talk about the things we create. Talk to our clients, and us, sure, but most importantly to each other."

For government body Architecture and Design Scotland and urban regeneration specialists ISIS, for example, Inner Ear is using audio and video content captured at a series of discussions it curated, to get people talking about the issues arising from plans to redevelop disused factory buildings in the Speirs Locks area in Glasgow. The company is also producing a series of podcasts to trail gigs for Glasgow Jazz Festival, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

"In working out how to position that content, and which of the array of social media services to use to connect with people, we’ve put our experience to use in delivering countless workshops and offering clients bespoke consultancy," says Perman. "We’ve recently worked with RSAMD on a plan for selling course placements, are about to work with renowned chamber group Hebrides Ensemble, are evaluating a social media project for The Poetry Society in London and have been teaching a revolutionary, highly ethical, stem cell banking company called Pharmacells how to use blogging effectively to engage with their target audience."

Having seen practical application for its work in content creation, communication and campaign planning in a wide range of sectors, Inner Ear has put together a series of workshops which it's now running in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.

It's teamed up with the Marketing Industry Network, with whom it ran an introductory webinar about scheduling social media updates for better business development recently. For more information about the workshops, including the discounted rate for MI Network members, see Minetwork.me for more details.

Perman has now been asked to join the advisory board for Social Media Week, which Twintangibles and New Media Corp will co-host in Glasgow in September.

As for the techno, dub step and hip hop? Well, it's still making a racket and championing new sounds. Check out the new shows on Radio Magnetic, or come to the free party in London in association with Mixcloud at Big Chill House on 24 June and keep your ears open for more info on a big party in Glasgow later this summer.

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