WhatsApp Dick‽

BBC embrace WhatsApp as a legitimate news service

Launched on February 28th, the BBC have fully engaged with WhatsApp to deliver interactive content around the reburial of Richard III. Stewart Lamb Cromar reviews the quality, diversity and innovation of their instant messaging publications.

1) Fri 13 Mar

After 13 days of radio silence, the BBC published their first piece of interactive content. This BBC News article from September 2012 wasn’t the best of starts in terms of engagement or breaking new ground.

2) Sun 15 Mar

Another archival post from May 2014, this time accompanied with a photograph of Usain Bolt.

3) Mon 16 Mar

This interactive video map represents the first new 100% piece of Richard III content we’ve seen. Whilst the BBC claim this page is best viewed on their desktop site, I found the 8-part video perfectly usable on a mobile device. What I did find disconcerting was the lack of audio, it’s more a slideshow than video to be honest and it would have benefited from someone narrating the on-screen text.

4) Tue 17 Mar

Our third previously published news story (April 2014), this time about Sherlock actor Martin Freeman playing Shakespeare’s doomed king Richard III in the West End.

5) Wed 18 Mar

A second WhatsApp photograph asks us to reconsider our thinking on Richard III’s hair and eye colour.

6) Thu 19 Mar

Did you know Richard III has some deadly connections with both solar and lunar eclipses? #topical

7) Fri 20 Mar

Things start to lighten up, a fun little CBBC video and an emoji opinion poll:

Was the king: SMILING FACE WITH HALO or IMP?

8) Sat 21 Mar

Before King Richard III’s remains are reinterred during a ceremony next Thursday, we’re treated to 6 facts for the remaining 6 days. And finally, the emoji poll results are revealed:

For most of you KRIII was: SMILING FACE WITH HALOCROWNGB FLAG

Gallery

Conclusion

With the reburial still left it may be a little premature to make any firm conclusions, but based on what we’ve been sent so far I’m pretty impressed. Despite a shaky start, I genuinely find it quite exciting to get a WhatsApp alert direct from the BBC. Their now daily Richard III messages are a perfect appetiser before engaging with extended Richard III BBC News website content.

With the sole exception of the emoji poll, communication for me was strictly one-way. This may be down to my lack of experience with WhatsApp, had I asked a question or commented on one their posts they may well have been answered.

As with Facebook and Twitter before it, it’s only a matter of time before other major content providers adopt WhatsApp as a serious educational delivery platform. I would love to hear about the success of their Richard III WhatsApp alert service when it concludes, in particular how many subscribers they garnered and what level of resourcing was required internally.

Did you also subscribe to this alert service? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or via Twitter.

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Published by

Stewart Lamb Cromar

Interactive Content Manager