Tuning In

Diasporic Contact Zones at the BBC World Service

Tuning In. Researching diasporas at the BBC World Service.

Social Media Analysis

Top 5 findings

  1. Social media was mainly used for promoting and sharing information
  2. Shakespeare Lives worked best when close, reciprocal local partnerships were formed
  3. Celebrities and local cultural intermediaries drove traffic
  4. Competitions, controversies and quirky posts and good visuals created engagement
  5. Shakespeare was the main attraction. Perceptions of the UK were enhanced but not changed

Top 5 recommendations

  1. Use social media more effectively for engagement not just information, PR and marketing
  2. Allow celebrities to speak for themselves. Users engage directly with celebrities who post from their own accounts or communicate directly in British Council posts, creating positive sentiment. British Council posts about celebrities put a distance between the audience and celebrity, who is effectively put on display rather than being approachable.
  3. Mix the immediate gratifications of quotes and quizzes around events with longer term engagement (Russian and Spanish did this well)
  4. Encourage users to share their experiences and views, especially when they attend events, because this then demonstrates participation in action and informs those who did not attend e.g. Russian users loved it when they saw the public at an event where McKellen was shouting ‘You shall not pass’.
  5. Foster future leaders. In Russia young elite users dominated social media. The same was true among Arabic audiences who loved sharing Shakespeare quotes. The British Council could mobilise these young, enthusiastic potential future leaders into long term, trustbuilding relations through careful mixtures of educational and cultural programmes.

Top 5 events

Events/ activities that had highest engagement

  • Weibo’s Shakespeare Lives page got 290m visits and 74,000 discussions. Astonishing!
  • The BC’s English, Spanish and Russian Twitter administrators interacted with users very effectively, being helpful, encouraging, and timely in their posts.
  • The most popular SL event was the Shakespeare and Cervantes Viven festival - The Madrid BC officer posted about BC events within his own updates about the Madrid art scene. This seemed particularly effective at showing the BC’s cultural events to be part of a wider milieu.
  • Instagram posts from ‘behind the scenes’ of actual productions or events were very popular. The authenticity of such posts went with the grain of Instagram which is very much based on showing one’s frontstage and backstage personalities.