This week I have been watching the video on YouTube of sessions from the BBC Social Media Summit held on Friday 20 May 2011 and organised by the BBC’s College of Journalism.
These provide a fascinating snapshot of how the journalistic profession and media organisations of all types are adapting to the challenge of social media.
What follows is a couple of things that stood out for me that I thought I should make a note of:
Cultural change within organisations
The first session looking at the cultural change needed for media organisations to adapt to social media gave these insights that I think are applicable to organisations outside the world of journalism:
Meg Pickard, Head of Digital Engagement at the Guardian talked about three areas of focus, a “holy trinity” that were critical to managing and supporting the integration of social media into an organisations work:
Products: what are the supporting new technologies, or packages of technologies, that are needed by the organisation. These products are either existing ones that can be embraced, new ones created in-house or ones developed by working with third parties.
People and skills: do people understand the possibilities and have the skills to make use of social media. She placed a great emphasis on education and training to equip staff with the knowledge thy need. Once they have acquired this they should then be trusted to use social media in an intelligent manner. In developing this emphasis on education and training she talked of a “sandwich” strategy, from above senior management have to provide leadership to say that this is important and that is OK for staff to engage with social media, from below opportunities need to be given for grass roots experimentation and enthusiasm.
Editorial proposition: how does social media help to tell better stories. Where does conservation and interactivity help us to achieve what we are trying to achieve. You must think through what the value of using social media is to your organisation.
I was also interested in the point made by Raju Narisetti of the Washington Post who emphasised that key to an organisations response to social media is the use of data. “Numbers are everything in our business” he said. Social media is able to provide clear data and the use of metrics is crucial in demonstrating the business benefits of using it. You can get support for the use of social media if you can use statistics to demonstrate what impact it has.
How social media is changing the behaviour and the habits of news consumers
I also found highly informative the presentation from Nic Newman from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism who was looking at the latest data on the behaviour of users of social media.
It shows, he says, that social media works to the benefit of mainstream news organisations. The different forms of social media are not a competitor to mainstream media. Instead the two are working together in complex ways to create a new ecology of news production and consumption. Often it is social media that is driving to traffic to news sites.
There is a common idea that stories are being generated in Twitter and then picked up by the mainstream media. However, the data shows that it is mainstream media that is driving the social media agenda and not the other way round.
Of great importance are the sites and online sources that generate a significant amount of the links and discussion found in social media. These are the ‘network nodes’ and they include a very strong presence from mainstream media organisation. But we are also seeing the rise of individual journalists and commentators as significant network nodes. He says that there is a real challenge for organisations to try and become one of these nodes. There is a “race for influence” to establish your brand or you as an individual as one of these hubs.
Social media is know becoming important for traffic building. People are finding news through social media. There is a rise in social discovery. People are finding new content through there use of social media. If there is a loser it seems to be search that is losing out. For the first time we are seeing evidence of the decline of search as a method of traffic generation.
His final point was, what I thought was the big unanswered question of the summit, that social media is disrupting the business models of news organisations. In particular the difficulty of using social media alongside the use of pay-walls to generate subscription revenue.
The three legged stool
Finally, I was interested in what Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger had to say about how he saw his organisation. Increasingly they see themselves as a “three legged stool” made up of;
Although he admitted that they were not strong enough in technology.
This content was originally posted on my old Strange Thoughts blog.