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It's social media week on the 5 live blog

Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick | 15:20 UK time, Monday, 1 February 2010

Social Media Week: day one

No, it's not something I just made up. It's a real, international week of conferences on the theme of social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on). It's mostly for business-people and techies but we've hijacked it to do something useful here on the blog. At the end of last year I promised I'd be starting a survey of 5 live's use of social media in the new year.

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So, starting today with Richard Bacon, I'm publishing five interviews with important 5 live figures about their use of social media. We caught Richard in his studio right after he came off the air last Thursday. He talks mainly about Twitter, his principle means of interacting with his audience while off-air and a genuine source of stories and reactions for the programme itself. Play the video and then tell us what you think in a comment.

Is 5 live making too much use of social media or are programmes improved by engagement with users of the social networks? Is social media a substitute for old-fashioned editorial effort or an essential enhancement. Should 5 live be investing in content and interaction on non-BBC web services like Facebook and Twitter or should we confine our efforts to our own site?

And between now and the end of the week you'll hear from presenters Rhod Sharp and Victoria Derbyshire and producers Richard Jackson (Breakfast) and Jo Tongue (606).

Steve Bowbrick is editor of the 5 live blog

  • Richard Bacon is @richardpbacon on Twitter. He has 1,329,894 followers.
  • The programme of activities for Social Media Week London, which is unconnected with the BBC.
  • An embeddable version of this video is on YouTube.
  • Thanks to Aaron Eccles for organising the interviews and to Guy Oldfield and Jimmy Smallwood from the 5 live Interactive team for their essential help with the video.


  • Comment number 1.

    Social Media Week on the 5 live blog. Long, long sigh.

    May I suggest you address the interactions of your last blog and answer some or all of the questions posed therein, which are, after all, quite relevant to you as the blog editor. To ask another question about twitter and Facebook, both of these non-BBC communication tools, is, in my opinion, quite disgraceful. 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, as in the case of Ms Derbyshire, is a pretty poor waste of their time. (By the way, you closed a blog that had you read it, would show us listeners were begging her and her editor to at least put a new page up each day so that the comments WOULD be relevant. Had you listened to the programmes you would be able to follow which comments went with which day. Instead, you failed to see the point of the complaints. Breakfast editors can do a page a day, why couldn't Victoria?) It says on one or other of the many messages to you from listeners that Nolan spends most of his programme begging listeners to up the numbers of his followers so that he can beat another BBC presenter. Livesey is the same over Facebook. No content to their programmes, they are both dire.

    No 5 Live should not be investing in content and inter-action on non-BBC websites. Cut your costs and use what you already have. You have all wasted enough money with the Salford move and lumbering your faithful listeners with poor programmes and no quality to speak of apart from Breakfast and Drive where there is obvious intelligence on show. It is not a youth channel, it is a news and sport channel that is threatening to be overwhelmed by entertainment news, music (!) and rubbish.

  • Comment number 2.

    "We've hijacked it to do something useful here on the blog" .. how about doing something useful with your time and actually _reading_ the blog your supposed to be responsible for, posting a entry once in a while, once per month is pathetic Steve, and then replying or facilitating replies to the plethora of questions asked, instead of these silly sidelines. Leave that to other BBC outlets.

    If you have no interest in being the 5LIVE BLOGS EDITOR please,

    (a) resign, so we can get something who does
    (b) change your title, close the blogs and twitter yourself silly

    Why are you asking us questions like "Is 5 live making too much use of social media or are programmes improved by engagement with users of the social networks?" you have already had that answered emphatically on this blog in this thread: https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/5live/2009/11/an-open-post-what-do-you-want.shtml

    Clearly, you never read the blogs your responsible for or you would know the answer to the questions you posed.

    "At the end of last year I promised I'd be starting a survey of 5 live's use of social media in the new year." -- where is this much promised survey? Oh, there isn't one? I get it, it's a blog post which will attract comments you can ignore. Silly me, I thought it might be a legtimate, transparent survey where we can rate your performance and our preferences, but of course we wouldn't want too much accountability would be. Might be afriad of the outcome.

    Why even bother to ask us if we prefer social media or contributions from this site when for the last 6 months you yourself have largely ignored this site despite being "our" blogs editor and closed blogs, while 5Live has rammed twitter and facebook down our throats at every opportunity?

    It's deeply ironic that after nothing from you since the 6th January (if you dont count closing a lively thread on the now-defunct VD blog to the outrage of participants) you choose to grace us with a blog post, about what seems to the pet-project at 5Live, social media integration with Facebook and Twitter -- chasing the yoof now doubt.

    Why should we take any request for feedback or contributions from you seriously when you have shown utter contempt for us and our legtimate questions in the past?

    Very disappointing. At least your consistent.

  • Comment number 3.

    My post #2 has been referred to the mods. Surprise surprise, a little bit of critisism and look what happens! So much for accountablility.

  • Comment number 4.

    No the BBC should not be actively encouraging people to use a social networking site that allows domestic violence to be encouraged and laughed at. By promoting FB the BBC is effectively condoning such things as this: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hitting-Women/301425304125?ref=search&sid=678540907.4177706964..1#/pages/Hitting-Women/301425304125?v=app_6261817190&ref=search

    If you wish to sully the name of the BBC throughout the world then please continue. I and many people I know have reported this page to FB and asked for it to be removed. Nothing has been done. The awful thing about this though is that there are many pages on FB that actively promote racism, sexism, fascism. They are all there. Do you really want the BBC to use such a medium as a first resort for contact?

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

  • Comment number 5.

  • Comment number 6.

    Once again I get the distinct impression that 5live don't want 'older' people listening to the station. Facebook and twitter are not 'mechanisms' that I would use to communicate with a public broadcasting medium. The dire music review is aimed at a young audience, the dumbed down magazine type stories are just a sign of the lowering of standards at the station. What now for people who want quality broadcasting? they won't be finding much at 5 live.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm not sure whether this first blog about social media can be called a survey. It seems a bit ad hoc to me and lacks the opportunity to collect measurable data.

    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 lack of a messageboard is quite bewildering and surely the BBC cannot continue to provide interactive messageboards for some stations and not 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. Dialogue between experts is often cut short so that comments from listeners can be read. These add nothing to the discussions and I am beginning to detect some contributors to the shows getting fed up of being cut short in this way.

    When the texts/tweets/facebook comments/emails are read out I am often reminded of the Armstrong and Miller sketch about tv news emails. That is not a good thing.

    I do think social media has a place in the station, but it needs to be produced much more effectively by people who know how to maximise its impact in a media environment. It could be a valuable tool, but needs to be thought through more carefully and the station controllers need to be brave enough to take criticism as well as praise. Reinstating the messageboard would be a start.

    On a final note, a lot of us like privacy and do not want to be listed as followers or fans in a public space such as twitter or facebook where we may already have personal accounts. I think this excludes us from taking part, although I am happy to stand corrected if I have got that wrong.

  • Comment number 8.

    'Intelligent life on Drive' writes Carrie. Three hours is a long time to Drive without a break!

    I think there should be a one hour evening equivalent on Drive of the Breakfast 'phone-in'. Instead of discussing one issue like they do on the latter it should be a range of issues that have been covered throughout the day and of a less moderated nature.

    I agree that the BBC shouldn't be interlinking with private social networks like Facebook and Twitter not only because they are commercial organisations exploiting a public service broadcaster but because opinions and comments from three different sources distort an overal picture.

    The phone-in is the best social network out especially when callers with different opinions engage one-to-one on air.

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree with Nick, what a great idea it would be to have that input on Drive.

    Incidentally, the atmosphere and programme in general is a good deal better teaming Aasmah and Peter.

  • Comment number 10.

    @prosperosgirl You make a couple of very good points. In particular, I think your point about anonymity is important. If you're accustomed to commenting anonymously at bbc.co.uk you might be uncomfortable doing so in an environment where you're expected to use your real name - Facebook, for instance. Facebook (and others) require real names because (among other reasons) there's some evidence that the overall tone of discussion is improved when all parties are using their real names. No changes are planned here, though.

    And as for the use of social media by presenters and producers, it's still very early in the growth of these new forms and I expect our practice to improve markedly as we all get used to it. Encouraging people to do it properly is part of my job. The BBC's guidance for staff is actually pretty good (we're told that it's been borrowed and adopted by other organisations several times) and will soon be updated to take in 'microblogging' services like Twitter. Worth bookmarking for future reference.

    And that TV sketch: was it this one? Hilarious.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, 5 live blog

  • Comment number 11.

    @Nick Vinehill. I like your idea for an addition to Drive. I'm passing your suggestion to John Cary, the programme's editor.

    And as to whether the BBC ought to link to commercial services like Facebook and Twitter, I suspect this one's going to run and run. But you can be sure that it's going to get harder to justify an isolationist stance as these services grow. Something approaching half the British population has taken the trouble to create a Facebook account. Compare that with the few hundred thousand who've done so at bbc.co.uk and I think the idea of confining content and interaction to our own site becomes much harder to defend.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, 5 live blog

  • Comment number 12.

    Thank you for republishing my post #2. It did take 36 hours but at least it shows that criticism is not forbidden. It is also good to see you posting Steve.

  • Comment number 13.

    re: Nick's phone-in idea, the most popular radio stations in Australia ( https://2gb.com https://3aw.com.au ) and New Zealand ( https://newstalkzb.co.nz ) are phone-in or talkback station. This is an excellent idea and it flourishes overseas. If the Conservatives come to power I wouldnt be surprised if they loosen OfComs ridiculous format controls and I can see someone adopting this hot talk format so you may as well get there first.

    One of the best franchises on 5Live currently in 606, which is such a program (albeit contrained to sport only).

    re: social media, I have no problem with the BBC using social media channels to solicit audience feedback BUT NOT at the expense of a blog. I also have grave concerns about the very loose editorial control of the use of social media by BBC employees, and in particular Twitter. Personal social media channels should never be used, only under the clear auspices of the BBC. I know the social media guidelines are being reviewed now and have made a submission to the policy department along these lines.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks for replying to my comments Steve.

    The sketch you have posted a link to is for Mitchell and Webb. I was referring to The Armstrong and Miller show. Unfortunately I cannot find a suitable clip, but they did a whole set of segments on Breakfast TV style presenters reading viewer emails. One sketch in particular showed how soul destroying it must be reading them out.

  • Comment number 15.

    Drive is actually quite listenable again thanks to a certain, full of herself, presenter going off to have a baby.Peter and Aasmah works so much better or Peter and practically anyone else.I have even started to enjoy the Daily Politics show again as well.Please pass my compliments on to the controller will you please Steve.

  • Comment number 16.

    Prospero, Is this what you are after ? - I love it!


  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

    Isn't limiting feedback to Facebook and Twitter a little shortsighted as many companies, including the one I work for, have been access to these sites on work PCs whereas you can access the BBC site no problem.


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