C-SPAN has been on a perpetual hunt for a plan to revamp its social media presence from the ground up. The company however is stuck in a predicament; it has an overall desire to engage with its audience in the (relatively) new digital playground all the while remaining as impartial and clear focused as possible. I’ve spent of the summer going through the various social media accounts operated at my workplace, and this conundrum is clearly represented in how C-SPAN presents itself digitally, in that the operation as a whole is entirely disjointed and muddied. This has resulted in little audience engagement and awareness. Henry Jenkins makes clear the direction and subsequent influence social media has on the audience. He asserts that we have moved into an era of participatory culture, where audiences have been granted an overwhelming amount of agency and have become empowered by the ever shrinking limits of participation to not only consume, but collaborate.
The growth of participatory culture has a make or break effect on much of the ‘old’ media outlets. Lone content creators now directly connect with consumers as a strange entanglement of advertisement and audience interaction that would historically be found at conventions, book signings, interviews, Q&A’s and so on. Those that don’t miss out on a huge chunk of their audiences. Companies can directly course correct and address their mistakes in the public eye, making the companies that choose not to look comparatively worse.
Social media has an overall humanizing effect on these entities and content creators. I’m not suggesting C-SPAN start memeing and using clickbait, but what’s clear is that audiences interact with media entirely different than the past. C-SPAN must consolidate its social media accounts; as of now there a few dozen accounts under the C-SPAN banner while most being frivolous with very low subscriber counts. One clear advantage that C-SPAN has is that one of its most watched program’s narratives is entirely driven by call-in viewers, tweeters, and guests. This being the Washington Journal. I think considering the personality of this specific channel, that it should be one of the few to keep its segregated media presence that should be reblogged and retweeted by the main account. Washington Journal should focus on allowing individuals a national soapbox to assert their own ideas, while using a healthy amount of unaltered quotes from the daily guests. The main C-SPAN account and the Washington Journal should continue to impartially advertise its daily guest to garner more viewers. I do think that at least for now the only other accounts that should stay open are the ones that correspond with a specific channel.
One thing that is truly lacking is synergy among the accounts. Yes, it is hard to get the average viewer excited for the run of the mill day on capitol hill, what I think would be incredibly helpful is to invest some time and energy into creating retrospectives from the footage gathered from congressional hearings, debates, and so forth. This does err dangerously close to partiality, but it is entirely possible to create abbreviated content while being bipartisan. These videos in their abbreviated format could then be potentially posted on social media platforms like twitter, and notably Youtube and Facebook, with links to the uncut video on the primary C-SPAN webpage. The biggest I’ve found is that the viewer beyond the core few are entirely unaware of the content C-SPAN offers. It is not just Congressional hearings, but book reviews, interviews, retrospectives, history lessons, content that goes largely unused because of a neglect of audience awareness. I feel this track would push C-SPAN towards the right direction.