The concept of social media newsrooms has been around for at least five years now. It seemed an obvious development with the explosion of social media in recent years. People are increasingly accessing news and information through social media, to the extent where these platforms (eg facebook, twitter, youtube) are becoming critically important in terms of distribution as well as content creation.
In these circumstances, it made a lot of sense, or it seemed to, for major organisations to move onto social media platforms - and many have. The ideal of a social newsroom however is integration; achieved by the incorporation of facebook and twitter feeds, and youtube channels, into the traditional corporate media page (or newsroom).
With integration, a static media page can become dynamic and the organisation move from the old model of supplying ideas and information for media stories to becoming a publisher of those stories catering for audiences well beyond journalists. Becoming a publisher is the promise of the internet, and it is being taken up by millions of individuals and small organisations worldwide.
In Australia, however, there is little evidence that this goal of integration is being pursued by major corporations.
The Intel site is one of the best I've seen. It has largely transitioned away from just providing materials for the media to becoming something of a media outlet in its own right. It looks lively and has lots to interest the visitor. Notably, the Intel site also integrates its social media platforms (like twitter and youtube) seamlessly into its newsroom site.
Social media newsrooms
Traditional online news rooms are targeted primarily at the media. They provide access to media releases, speeches, reports and presentations, as well as basic background information on the company.
Social media newsrooms are designed to incorporate social media tools to enable the company to make use of the key, relevant features of social media: endorse, comment (respond) and share.
As well as traditonally formatted content, social media newsrooms include content from platforms like blogs, twitters and youtube.
These features of social media can help the company reach more people in more meaningful ways.
Social media newsrooms have two main objectives:
1. Provide direct access to news for the organisation's key audiences (ie beyond the media)
2. Encourage audiences to participate in distribution of the organisation's information through the tools of social media platforms.
- offer content in non-traditional formats (ie other than media releases, reports etc)
- distribute corporate news in new ways
- promote engagement through the distribution of news on social media platforms
This is snapshot research; it provides some insights on what large companies are doing but cannot tell us why they are or are not embracing the concept of social media newsrooms.
Telstra is about the only company that can be said to have attempted integration.
Seven of the top 20 companies showed no evidence of social media, the others had some toes in the water, but without conviction.
Top 20 companies
AMP - Basic - traditional content format only; offers email alerts, RSS and twitter
ANZ - Basic - traditional content format, twitter link
BHP Billiton - None
Brambles - Basic - traditional formats, some social media links
Commonwealth Bank - Basic - traditional format, social media links
CSL - Basic - traditional format, social media links, photo and contacts for media manager.
Macquarie Group - None
National Australia Bank - None
Newcrest Mining - None
Origin Energy - Basic - rss feeds, image bank
QBE Insurance - None
Rio Tinto - Basic - twitter link, rss feeds, webcasts, photo and video libraries
Santos - Basic - rss, webcasts, twitter, youtube pointers
Suncorp - Basic - twitter pointer, image gallery
Telstra - Medium - Plenty of use of social media, some integration
Westpac Banking - Basic -pointers to social media
Westfield - None
Wesfarmers - None
Woolworths - Basic - pointers to some social media
Woodside Petroleum - Basic - rss feeds
Other Australian social media newsrooms
The non-corporate sector has some interesting examples - see below.
Even here integration is often lacking.
It is particularly strange that member based and advocacy organisations (eg ICA, BCA) have been slow to adopt integration
Mission Australia - Medium to high - pointers to social media, twitter feed on home page
Oxfam - Medium to high - blog integration
Queensland Country Credit Union - a good social media newsroom
Corporations may just be slow in adopting social media newsrooms because they are always wary of any innovations in public relations that involve relinquishing control. Or, it maybe that the early promise of social media newsrooms has not eventuated (yet). Perhaps, more traditional outlets and PR approaches are still much better value for corporations than social media.