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Facebook on Radio 4

Tuesday 28 July 2009, 20:00

Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick Head of Interactive, Radio 3

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Facebook Billionaire

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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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 2.

    As unreal as this appears, there are many people who are becoming rich by tapping into the power of the internet. I have found that most of the "internet gurus" are BS artists, cons and the equivalent. The real guys earning money are silently putting money into the bank and not telling the world. There are numerous businesses I see every day, esp. the "brick-an-mortar" companies who just don't get it. Too bad for them, too good for us that have wised up to the revolution that is happening on the net. Kudos to Ben and those like him that have seized an opportunity and run with it. Justin Laubscher [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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    Comment number 3.

    'Should programmes and personalities use the social networks to interact with listeners at all?' (original posting)

    Mr. Bowbrick, I recommend that you acquire the script of the October 2002 Feedback message board-related interview with the following individuals: Christopher Kimber, Elizabeth Jackson and Anna M.C. Mr. Kimber makes a direct reference to the importance of the virtuous circle (in relation to the recipe for successful BBC messageboards). In other words the phase relationship between input and output is such as to ensure a positive feedback loop. The MB contributors completed their part of the feedback loop; R4 and BBC personnel refused. Glad to report that Im an altruist because I was the only person who was prepared to help R4 MB subscribers on the now defunct: Altruists Alert MB (questions relating to Radio 4 and other BBC radio stations). Shame on all the R4 personnel who refused to help out with that board. Shame also on Feedback for refusing to investigate the complaints relating to the R4 and BBC messagbeoards. If only R4 listeners still had the mighty Chris Dunkley to support them :(

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    Comment number 4.

    Lord Mandy said that Labour was now the 'underdog' and had to be seen as the 'insurgents'..

    Couldn't Radio 4 try to be more like a 'National Public Radio' underdog to capture the student / iconoclast market ?? Then it might be seen as an 'insurgent' rather than you speaking all this media luvvie stuff about 'branding' which will be a real turn off to the rebellious independently minded students you are trying to 'catch young'. Just a thought...

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    Comment number 5.

    Oh, sorry, but before anyone signs up to facebook to view the above sites, do please read this salutary tale first, to get a more objective view than all the hype from the BBC.



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