BBC bets on Facebook for female fans: But will they click?

The Corporation is trying to reach more than just middle-aged men

Japan Times

The BBC has begun to roll out new online content on Facebook, dedicaFacebook page to themes such as ‘Family & Education’, “Entertainment’ and ‘Lifestyle’.

They’re the latest media outlet to do so, with the strategy having made other news brands household names with a wide variety of online users. BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and Mashable, have all snared diverse demographics with pages such as Nifty, Tasty, BlackVoices and Mashable Entertainment respectively.

Speaking at an employment event for young people, Mark Frankel, Social Media Editor at the BBC, said that for too long the BBC’s online content had “over-served” men who were middle-aged and over. The Corporation is making a concerted effort to reach groups it under-serves according to its data, namely women, of all ages. BBC Family News was one of the first to launch in early November, with more Facebook pages to follow.

The move comes in the context of a debate about whether Facebook itself is a news media corporation of its own, seeing as many online media consumers get their news from Facebook, and its algorithms sort and distribute news media according to user data.

BuzzFeed/ Facebook

Why launch on Facebook? Well, the competition is there doing the same thing, and have done so for years now. Not only that, but Facebook is the most feature heavy social media site around. Everything that Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter can do, Facebook can also do for its 1.79 billion users.

The numbers also testify to Facebook being a good bet. BuzzFeed’s NIFTY Facebook page has gained 20 million plus followers since launching in March 2016. The BBC needs to do more than just hang out there though. The content needs to be shareable. BuzzFeed’s success is in large part down to its mobile friendly content which can be quickly shared by its audience. The BBC, like many news corporations, were constantly chasing ‘click-throughs’ to its own website. They finally realise that building a brand reputation in the place where a potential audience hangs out, may be a better long-term strategy. The BBC is paid for by the British public, who pay £145.50 per year to keep the BBC on air, so it’s not like they’re chasing ad revenue.

The Beeb hopes to scoop up some ‘likes’ in today’s saturated online content market, but it is somewhat late to the game. As it develops its other social media channels simultaneously, the BBC are hoping this strategy will give it the novel traffic it is searching for.