BBC Three: An example of how not to approach social media

BBC Three is in an interesting place right now. Its recent shift to online-only has attracted a lot of criticism from big players in the industry and it’s not yet clear whether the broadcaster’s gamble has paid off.

Personally, I think it’s a good move. But regardless of whether it’s a success in the age of YouTube and Facebook Video, it’s certainly one of the more interesting moves from a traditional broadcaster at a time when others in the industry are still struggling to adapt to today’s on-demand world. This is particularly important given BBC Three’s target audience, which is highly relevant to the story I’m about to tell you.

BBC Three has always attracted younger viewers. It’s home to 16-34 year-olds – undoubtedly a large driver behind the decision to take BBC Three off the air and move it online.

Viewers in this age bracket tend to lean towards bite-sized and on-demand content. It’s the Netflix generation; a section of society discovering new things to watch through YouTube and VoD services rather than linear broadcast schedules, which BBC Three’s new approach delivers.

So, to try and push its new online-only identity, and to get that 16-34 year-old audience on board with the move, BBC Three’s social media accounts have been given a new lease of life. BBC Three’s Twitter profile, in particular, seems to be run by a set of people who are trying to be “down with the kids.”

That’s all well and good, and I understand why the BBC is doing this. It’s looking to cement the value in its online-only decision and help rally support by pushing harder than usual to engage its target viewer base over social media.

Still, that’s no excuse for this (tweet, right):BBC Three's UFC social media mistake

Whoever’s running the BBC Three Twitter account has since deleted the post. Judging by the lack of uproar, I assume it was taken down rather quickly before too many people saw it.

But I did, and because 1. it’s horrendous (and flies in the face of the BBC’s values), and 2. is a great example of the importance all brands should place on how they choose to communicate publicly, I’ve taken the decision to preserve it on this blog.

There’s a lesson for all of us here; be careful what you post on social media – particularly if you’re the BBC working hard to drive engagement during a crucial transitional period for a key part of your brand.

Getting serious about online security

Apple’s iCloud service suffered a high-profile hack in August last year, pushing online privacy and data security to the forefront of people’s minds. Since then we’ve seen lots of big names hit the headlines, including cheating website Ashley Madison and the holy trinity of press release distribution services – Marketwired, PR Newswire, and Business Wire.

While Ashley Madison’s users are still waiting (nervously, no doubt) to see if their personal data will crop up online, information from the three press release wires was used over a period of several months to help corrupt traders make millions of dollars by acting on information from listed companies before it became public. Hacking is evidently big business.

But it’s not just the big boys being targeted. There’s been a lot of smaller scale hacks in the past 18 months, too. Kickstarter was breached in February 2014 and, somewhat ironically, security software firm BitDefender admitted having user data stolen in July of this year. More recently, the literary community Wattpad was targeted.

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Grads, give small agencies a chance

On Wednesday, I spent the afternoon at a careers day for Masters students on UCL’s Management course. Part of the event was a panel session. There were six of us; recent graduates now working at Amazon, Unilever, BskyB, Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, and Babel PR (me).

The outcome was predictable. Few in the audience had considered starting their career in a small agency. So, I made it my job to educate them about the benefits of doing so.

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