Social Media in Practice: BBC Radio 5 Live
Web publishers and broadcasters always have to look for new and innovative ways to maintain existing audiences and win new ones. When BBC Radio 5 Live realised it was losing listeners to other sources of football-based content it launched a new service to win them back. New Media Knowledge met the people responsible.
BBC Radio 5 Live is one of the main news and sports broadcasters in the UK, supported by the BBC’s significant Web presence. With the large amount of competition in the football broadcasting market BBC Radio 5 Live found it had lost a million listeners over a period of time to other sources of information which it was keen to win back.
In July this year the broadcaster launched its ‘5 Live Football Player’ in a bid to make its site more attractive. 5 Live Football Player is an interactive widget delivering 5 Live audio and video football content and digital media firm OnlineFire was charged with helping promote the application.
OnlineFire engaged with fanzine owners and the football blogging community to secure placement of 5 Live Football Player in a bid to stimulate consumers to download the widget onto personal platforms. The company performed research to identify influential grass-roots football fans in the UK, explained James Fitzgerald, co-Managing Director of OnlineFire, which included more than 660 football fanzines and blogs across 108 different football teams located in the UK.
“Using social media to promote the 5 Live Football Player was vital, considering the widget itself is a social media tool,” said Fitzgerald. “Because the widget could be embedded on Web pages or in social networking profiles we had several avenues of promotion, all of them social media friendly. Using social media to promote social media was a natural fit.”
The impact of the campaign was monitored through meticulous organic searches with cross-references on BBC’s own analytics. “Whilst analytics programs are notoriously reliable, nothing beats a pair of human eyes to double check,” he continued.
The value of the campaign was measured in a number of forms: Equivalent Advertising Value (EAV), number of downloads and number of impressions. The most successful placement was with Chelsea FC fanzine mychelseafc.com, which stimulated 383,981 downloads of the widget.
The impact for BBC Radio 5 Live was impressive. More than 1.5 million downloads of 5 Live Football Player have been made and 500,000 unique users have been drawn to the 5 Live Web site since the July 2008 launch. Due to the placement of the product, more than 2.8 million unique users had been exposed to the 5 Live Football Player on independent football-related titles.
Supporters’ clubs for individual teams from all over the world were targeted. Primarily downloads were attributed to the UK (40 per cent) but were also traced to countries such as United States (8.64 per cent), Australia (2.4 per cent), Germany (1.3 per cent), Ireland (1.1 per cent), Canada, Norway and Spain (all one per cent each).
“Of course we’re happy with the results, but looking at the bigger picture, it’s about the relationships,” Fitzgerald concluded. “Through this campaign, we have opened up the conversation between those elusive ‘missing million’ and BBC Radio 5 Live, which is ultimately what social media is all about.”