Steve Martin, business development manager at BBC. Image by HumanIPO.
Martin spoke to HumanIPO at last week’s Digital Services Africa conference, held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The BBC launched responsive detection technology last year which enables device adaptability of its content to work for all readers, whether they use a computer or a feature phone.
The manager feels online engagement has also formed an important part of engagement with its audience.
Nigeria is its biggest African audience across television, radio and online channels, with 27 million people connected to the news service with a 250 per cent increase within the last year.
With locally-based journalists in 48 African countries, BBC reporters are equipped with a briefcase-sized satellite station where they can plug in a laptop to upload audio and video content for international sharing.
“Through technology we have been able to enable all those journalists to file for our online services and our radio services,” Martin said.
Emphasising the need for quality news to be closer to humans and engage with emotions, he believes digital services have improved the delivery of contents
“We increasingly have the video content on mobile devices and audio. It means you see people’s faces and you can hear people’s voices…it brings people closer,” he said.
Social media has also played a significant part in building relationships with the audience.
“Social media has revolutionised the BBC’s relationship with the audience so much so that we have set up earlier on with the usage and content, which is now our social hub,” Martin said.
By allowing the readers to add content, verify stories and give feedback on articles, the connection is built between the corporation and the public with the benefit of credibility.
“Because we are a publicly funded organisation, people have a very close relationship with us,” he said.
“We are not commercially funded, we are not here to make money, we are here to provide news to the community. People expect a lot of the BBC and they tell us off when we got things wrong.”
Facebook is said to be the most popular network for engagement in Africa, though Twitter-based interaction, already number one in Europe, is growing as well.
With the world’s most modern technologically-equipped news facility based in London, the BBC plans to continue improvement in its design functionality to build on its website success.
“We will continue to enhance our service and as people have greater connectivity, it’s clear that there is a greater demand in the BBC for digital media and audio in different languages,” Martin said.