Mark Scott was the third speaker on the program at the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009. Mark’s talk was entitled Connecting with Audiences in the Digital Age.
Mark Scott has been the Managing Director of the ABC since July 2006. His talk explored the ways in which the ABC was exploring new ways to connect with audiences. He noted that the ABC is a vast network and operates the second largest media site in the world (after the BBC). Mark suggested that the ABC has a reputation for innovation in media space and prides itself on being Australia’s town square. This town square is located in new media opportunities including mobile technologies (see iView and ABC Mobile, for example). Nielsen’s (2009) Global Faces and Networked Places exemplifies the changing demographics for broadcasters.
Mark observed that the ABC creates content and uses whatever devices available to share this content (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter). He noted that the ABC has a very strong service for young people and accesses returning older listeners through local radio.
Examples of the ABC’s use of social networks include YouTube Summer Heights High and Ja’mie King’s MySpace page. This site acquired 67,000 friends in three weeks. Ja’mie’s Facebook page has 14,000 friends and exemplifies the power of viral engagement in social networks.
Mark noted increases in Facebook traffic (149% groth per annum) and the popularity of Twitter. Mark exemplified the potential of Twitter with a discussion of ABC Melbourne 774’s feed on Black Saturday. During the day there were 2500 followers but the multiplier effect meant that 300,000 people received messages originating with 774. He noted too that the ABC’s Q&A show generated significant amounts of Twitter traffic. It is exploring innovative ways to engage audiences. Like the Gruen Transfer, Q&A is using video for a range of purposes.
Mark discussed the strategic and operational implications of using digital media in innovative ways. He noted the ABC’s strict rules of operation and detailed editorial policies. The ABC has user generated content guidelines and is the first media organisation to do so in depth and online. These guidelines are receiving significant attention by international media organisations.
Mark affirmed the ABC’s responsibility to enable communities to share their stories through ABC Contribute. Other examples of this approach include: New Media Showcases; oral history projects for The Making of Modern Australia; Art on the Street uploads.
Mark argued that the ABC is reinventing itself to take advantage of new media. The future offers inclusive, interactive participative environments.