'The ability to get hold of eyewitnesses as breaking news happens is incredible' - Chris Hamilton, head of social media, BBC News

Social media has accelerated the pace of the 24/7 news cycle, according to Chris Hamilton, head of social media at BBC News, who himself was a reporter before he turned to social.

Asked if his reporting skills help in the social arena, Hamilton replied: “Absolutely, not least because for us social media is a tool that integrates with traditional reporting, both in terms of news gathering - finding stories, contacts, and content - and getting our content to audiences.

"Many of the skills I learnt as a reporter, primarily an understanding of what stories resonate with audiences, and how to tell them, are very relevant to working directly in social media.”

Hamilton will be using his skills of finding good content to use soon, as he is a judge in the Social Buzz Awards, in association with iomart.

During the judging, he will be looking for “creativity, simplicity, and a strategic, evidence-based approach that delivers measurable results. A bit of fun and delight for target audiences or consumers wouldn’t go amiss as a side order”.

Hamilton believes that the biggest change in social over the past year has been “the continued inexorable rise of visuals” – both in terms of videos and images – but also mentions the change in Facebook.

“[Facebook] has shrugged off the question marks that dogged it at the time of its IPO and is powering ahead in terms of new features and acquisitions, more users, and rising revenue.”

While this platform is huge for the BBC in terms of reaching large audiences and driving them to its on-site content, Hamilton said Twitter is valuable as a source for stories.

“Twitter is very important as a real-time news platform, especially as a source of stories and content from people experiencing or with relevant experience of news stories that we can incorporate into our output on TV, radio and digital.”

He praised the use of social media for “the way it’s put hardware (smart devices) and software (like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter) in the hands of millions of people, allowing us to tell a much wider range of stories from a much wider range of sources”.

“Events can be reported and responded to in near real-time. We already take it for granted, but the ability to get hold of pictures and eyewitnesses as breaking news events happen on the other side of the world is incredible,” he explained.

Find out more about the awards on the Social Buzz Awards website and enter before 13 August.

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