TuneIn relaunches with a big focus on social to become the Twitter of radio

Streaming radio aggregator TuneIn relaunched its mobile apps and website Wednesday, introducing a Twitter-like follower model and adding new ways for podcasters, radio staions and brands to reach an audience.

The new TuneIn allows users to follow individual shows like This American Life, radio stations like KCRW, broadcasters like the BBC and even musical genres like Alternative Rock. Users also get a profile and are able to follow their Facebook (S FB) friends or contacts from their phone’s address book. The result looks a lot like Twitter (S TWTR) or Facebook, (S FB) complete with a news feed that lists new shows, and so-called echoes, which TuneIn CEO John Donham called “essentially our version of a tweet” during a demo earlier this week.

Part of the motivation for the relaunch was that many broadcasters already had a huge following on TuneIn, said Donham. BBC Radio One for example is being followed by 1.9 million people, which turned out to be an even bigger audience than the station has on Facebook or Twitter. The newly-introduced news feed is supposed to help listeners discover the newest content from these broadcasters more easily.

Aside from a bet on higher engagement, TuneIn is also relaunching the service to introduce new ways to make money. The company is opening up its service to brands like Lexus and Universal Pictures, and introducing sponsored placements to help these brands find an audience.

Check out a few screenshots of the new app below:

Image courtesy of Flickr user  C.P.Storm.