Friday, 19 March 2010
I’m writing this in the dining area at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam (right) after a great time at the EBU’s Multimedia Meets Radio conference – listening to some inspiring presentations and meeting interesting new colleagues.
I’m going to share some of the notes I made during workshops on social media and user generated content.
The event was held at an amazing building. The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision is in the town of Hilversum (20km from Amsterdam) which is where broadcasting first started in the Netherlands. It is an archive and museum for broadcasting and it seems to be popular if the excited schoolchildren I saw were anything to go by. It is on a Media Park where many broadcasters are based.
Ok then, the first session discussed social media and radio. It seemed to be recognised by most people as an important tool for radio stations to use but experiences vary greatly from those who’re well advanced to those really yet to start.
Danish Radio’s P3 is a station which falls in the former category. Its Editor in Chief for Communities, Kasper Tostesen – who joined from MSN – explained how this youth stations provides content wherever its listener is i.e. on radio, on-line, on Facebook etc. It has created a ‘live' widget aggregating what P3 content the listener can access at any one time. So, it might include details of the song on the radio, the latest comment on Facebook or video posted to the website. It is simple but smart. P3 is clearly a station which understands the need for radio to be truly multi-platform.
Andrea Borgnino from Rai in Italy spoke about a version of Fantasy Football supported by social media content. Crucially, real football players and managers cast votes to influence the competition. I have to be honest – I wasn’t clear exactly how it worked but it was definitely an interesting concept. Unsurprisingly in the football loving Italy it has been hugely popular – the demand even caused a computer server to crash. For me it underlined the critical importance of the content itself. Social media are tools to reach new listeners or enhance a listening experience but they are tools and, as it has always been, content still needs to compel and engage.
The Editor in Chief of Radio Netherlands International, Rik Rensen advised social media should be used with caution by international broadcasters as, for example, there was not a wide use of Facebook in Africa. To demonstrate his point of digital differences he showed this news report on poor broadband in South Africa:
Neat story eh? Not everyone shared the Editor’s view and his session simulated debate over the morning coffee break.
Rik also showed these TV spots for a US diner encouraging customers to fan/follow it on social media - brilliant!
(Picture on the right by @foodiesarah)
I spoke about practical tips to help radio use social media more effectively. I shortly will post the entire presentation with an audio commentary.
I advised delegates not to broadcast but to interact with users on social media but Jan Hoek, the Director General of Radio Netherlands Worldwide asked me how this was possible if you had thousands of followers?
Well, a good question. Not all of them are likely to interact directly with you but a decent number may well tweet you. I said this was a big issue for broadcasters who’re encouraging their listeners to use social media. I think it is an issue to address when looking at the work flow within your broadcaster or programme.
An open and honest policy may be an option i.e. from time to time, thanks people for their tweets and apologising for not being able to answer them all. You may decide to concentrate on answering tweets which will benefit a wider audience. The honest answer is that broadcasters are still feeling their way on this but, yes, it is an issue. (How are you coping with Facebook messages and tweets? Let me know your own way of working on this.)
A workshop on user generated content was to follow. Freelance radio and multimedia journalist, Kate Arkless Grey (@radiokate) talked about the BBC Save Our Sounds project she spearheaded. It relied upon listeners to the BBC World Service contributing recordings of endangered sounds where ever they should be. Clearly a good radio project but the crowdsourcing of content also made it a perfect vehicle for social media engagement. As with the Rai example, the content is a very strong proposition.
The session I found most useful was from the Guardian’s Local Editor, Sarah Hartley(@foodiesarah). She explained the UK newspaper and multi-media company’s policy on UGC. She said it was no longer a case of content is king but context is king. She said within the Guardian there is a term used called Mutualisation describing how the audience has become part of the news gathering process.
Sarah showed this chart of the production process of a newspaper from its writing to consumption – everything below the line was how the reader USED to be involved..
Then, she showed how the reader is NOW involved...
These were the five tips for successful use of audience generated content...
Not only was it good to finally meet @foodiesarah and @radiokate properly but @markrock – the CEO of Audioboo – was at the conference too. He did a live demo of his audio microblogging tool which I’ve been supporting for a while. It proved to be very popular with delegates too. A number of who told me they were interested in finding out more.
But you need to be careful when you’re around Mark because I discovered he could be audiobooing at anytime! Here’s an example recorded over lunch with @radiokate...
(As you can see I take pictures of slides as well!!)
So, good times with existing colleagues, great to meet new ones and some inspiring sessions. I also loved a Twitter world cloud which appeared on the conference big screen from time to time, morphing into the latest tweets on the sessions. This was definitely a hit and raised a smile from time to time!
Congratulations to Michael and Matthew and all at the EBU for organising a successful event. I’d love to be asked back next year ;)
UPDATE: @foodiesarah has blogged her thoughts on the conference.
I've uploaded some more pictures of my trip on Flickr.