Social insecurity

Last month I defended BBC radio stations’ use of Twitter and Audioboo against criticism. Well, it seems that some listeners’ misgivings  about Twitter has not abated and bosses at Five Live’s are using social media week to gauge people’s views on social media.

Yesterday, Richard Bacon spoke about why he uses Twitter to communicate with listeners, which has established him as one of Britain’s most followed tweeters. The article prompted some angry comments from listeners and despite my previous articles, I do feel they raise some valid points.

The first comment, from Carrie, questions how effectively social media is being used as a listening device and whether it is distracting from efforts to blog and engage with listeners on messageboards.

To think that your presenters spend vast swathes of their programmes begging us listeners to contact them via their own pages on Facebook and twitter, and for them to ignore the blogs and then close the messageboards that you actually run…  is a pretty poor waste of their time.

She then went on to imply that the BBC’s use of Facebook and Twitter are a waste of money, something that I disagree with. So did another listener, who believed that social media obsession was actually an excuse not to invest in quality programming:

Stop being cheap skates and start providing the services that we as customers of the BBC have a right to expect.

prosperogirl builds on Carrie’s point about social media taking away the opportunity for proper conversation:

Over the past year or so, the opportunity to use social media to discuss 5 live and its content has narrowed to such a degree that there is no opportunity to interact with the comments of others…

The social media aspect of commenting on news has led to many programmes being overloaded with one sentence comments which on the whole are only of interest to the author and the presenters.

Today Rhod Sharp wrote about his use of social media on Up All Night. When asked what isn’t working, he reveals a different attitude to Twitter and other social networks from Richard Bacon’s:

My followers can be numbered in the hundreds, which is fine by me. I don’t use Twitter to collect followers like so many butterflies on pins. A news programme has to have integrity, and celebrity blogging plays no part in its culture, IMHO. Others differ.

Prompted by the comments the previous day, Rhod was asked  the BBC should be promoting external sites like Twitter and Facebook. He is cautious in his response.

They are part of the media ecosystem now, but they are still media brands like The Guardian or The Wall Street Journal and there’s a limit to how much anyone in the media should be plugging someone else’s brand.

Rhod’s contribution to the debate attracted less hostility than the previous day’s. Here’s prosperogirl again:

I think Rhod has hit the nail on the head when he mentions the importance of interactivity and engaging in debate as well as the need to manage this new media very intelligently.

At the moment I think intelligence is lacking in how social media is being handled.

I’ve blogged before about the uses of Twitter and other social media in newsrooms – they are great for news leads. They can also be fantastic ways of providing a mobile newsfeed to people when they are out and about.

On the other hand, BBC presenters and journalists need to make sure their use of Twitter is not a one way thing – or a way of avoiding messageboards. Of course, dialogue is difficult when you have thousands of followers. But Twitterfeeds should be monitored, if not by presenters themselves then by researchers. Even reading out a fraction of tweets on air would make the use of social media more meaningful for listeners.

As a Five Live listener, I’ll be following this conversation throughout the week and await the results of the station’s review of social media with interest.

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One thought on “Social insecurity

  1. rosieniven says:

    Five Live’s blogs on social media concluded today with a blog about the Breakfast show’s social media strategy. It includes a question on whether social media adds value for the licence fee payer.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/5live/2010/02/bbc-radio-5live-breakfast-social-media.shtml

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