BusinessWeek.com sees social media as key

In an interview with econsultancy.com, BusinessWeek.com Editor in Chief John A. Byrne discusses the site’s strategy for engaging readers. Byrne says that “We have one overriding goal: to have the deepest and most meaningful engagement with our audience than any other business site in the world. … We see engagement as core to what we do and how we do it.”

In the interview, Byrne makes it clear that the days of one-way communication are over:

Journalism, by and large, has been a product produced by writers and editors and delivered to an audience. That was fine when there was no technology to allow journalists to engage in an ongoing dialogue with readers and to allow for true collaboration between the writers and the readers.

What journalism needs to become is this digital age is a process that embraces and involves your audience at every level, from idea generation to reporting and sourcing and finally to the publication of the article when the journalism then becomes an intellectual camp fire around which you gather an audience to have a thoughtful conversation about the story’s topic.

If done well, that conversation, orchestrated by the writer or editor of the article, has as much or more value to a reader as the journalism itself.

Byrne notes that BusinessWeek.com has 28 blogs and more than 60 Twitter accounts, and cites a favorite example of how one of his writers used social media to great effect:

[S]enior writer Steve Baker … wrote one of the very first articles in the mainstream media on Twitter. But rather than writing that story and delivering it as a finished product to our readers, he engaged the audience in a novel and creative process. He tweeted the topic sentences of his story and asked his followers to tweet back the sentences they thought would logically follow his.

Steve used his blog to report on the back-and-forth of this process to make it accessible to a broader audience who could participate via Twitter or Blogspotting, Steve’s blog on our site.

The result of all this was a much better story on Twitter based on engaging his audience in the reporting of the story.

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