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24/10/2017
BBC Radio 4

    Facebook on Radio 4

    Head of Interactive, Radio 3

    Book of the Week on Radio 4 this week is Ben Mezrich's Accidental Billionaires, a book whose subtitle (at least in the American edition) is: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal. Perfect Radio 4 material then. As you'd expect, the book has its own Facebook profile.

    Radio 4, like all the top media brands, is on Facebook too, but in a fairly haphazard way, although the Corporation's social media guidelines encourage staff and programme makers to get involved. There's no formal Radio 4 presence but a number of individual programmes have profiles. Only one Radio 4 programme makes systematic use of Facebook to interact with listeners and to solicit contributions: Saturday Live.

    The Saturday Live group (2,784 members) is busy and Fi Glover uploads her popular weekly newsletter here. In the group right now there's some debate about Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham's choice of inheritance tracks. Group member Philip White says:

    The Rt.Hon.A.Burnham chose Billy Bragg as his track to pass onto the next generation. The simplistic ideology of B. Bragg might be an understandle indulgence for a student, but for a mature man approaching 40, and a cabinet minister to boot?

    BBC Radio 4's profile has 3,151 fans but there's not much going on and this isn't an official Radio 4 profile - it was set up by a fan. Christian John Riegel, on the profile's wall, says:

    I'm a fresh arrival from the USA. Radio here is 100 times better. I can't believe I find myself being sucked into radio drama! I was digging the recent sci-fi hard. And the comedy is funny as hell! Thumbs up!

    The busiest Radio 4 group on Facebook is an entertaining one with a backhanded compliment for a name: Radio 4 - Its Not Just For The Middle Aged (4,932 members). The group's name echoes the challenges Mark Damazer addressed here on the blog a couple of weeks ago when he explained why Radio 4 is touring universities later this year:

    It is an attempt to explain to an audience that sometimes knows distressingly little about Radio 4 (we have evidence that we are not much known among many under 30 year-olds) that we have things to stimulate and amuse them.

    Radio 4's talent, especially the comedians, is well-represented on Facebook, as you'd expect. The Now Show's (unofficial) group has 1,365 members, the I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Appreciation Society has 4,859 and Marcus Brigstocke's (official) Planet Corduroy has 1,666 fans. Shappi Korshandi has 1,278 fans and her Appreciation Society has 2,017 members but only two people saw her in East Sheen Waitrose.

    Do you think Radio 4 should make more effort on Facebook? Should there be an official profile? Should programmes and personalities use the social networks to interact with listeners at all? Or are they right to steer clear and leave it to the fans?

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