Engaging social media audiences

How can you get your audience excited about a programme before it’s even aired? It's all about creating conversation, content and community through social media.

Social media provides an unprecedented level of access to a worldwide audience who can share, discuss and provide feedback on your content. If you use it wisely, social media can be an incredibly cost-effective way of promoting your work.

Social media producer Barry Pilling describes how the makers of The Voice targeted the Twitter and Facebook followers of judges Jessie J and Will.I.am, and hence created a massive buzz around the show before the first episode had even aired. Social media can also add extras to an already successful programme – for example, behind-the-scenes pictures on Facebook – giving the audience an extended experience.

“There is no better promotional tool than word of mouth, and social media gives you that on a global scale”– Barry Pilling

Barry says that there are ‘three Cs’ of social media: content, conversation and community. These all feed into each other – good content will spark a conversation, which will then spread throughout a community, uniting people in a discussion.

Rosie Dunkley, executive producer for BBC Radio Cornwall, describes how social media has helped her station to reach new demographics. People who might not otherwise be aware of the radio station will use its Facebook page to get information on travel and school closures, and then start listening to shows as well.

Eleanor Bradford, health correspondent for BBC Scotland, also explains that journalists should view social media as an invaluable tool for gathering information, opinions and news sources from their audience. Therefore it’s important to appear approachable and interact with your audience as a person, rather than just as a broadcaster. Digital journalist Franz Strasser echoes this, describing journalism as a two-way street.

Social media provides programme-makers with valuable feedback; they can hear and respond to their audience’s discussions, suggestions and questions. The flexibility of social media also means that broadcasters can connect to their audience before, during and after producing their content.

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