Brian Williams uses Facebook to connect with audience

Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News (photo by Peabody Awards)

Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News (photo by Peabody Awards)

Before the ink was even dry on Charlie Warzel’s BuzzFeed piece about how executives at The New York Times don’t tweet, NBC Nightly News’s anchor and managing editor Brian Williams took to another platform – Facebook – to interact with the public.

I have it on good authority that Williams’ Facebook Q&A was, in no means, a response to the BuzzFeed piece. (Warzel’s piece was published on September 26; Williams’ session was October 1.) Additionally, Williams has said he would do this once the NBC Nightly News Facebook page hit 1 million likes. (As of Friday, October 3 at 10:56 a.m. the page has 1,105,982 likes.)

No matter why he did it, it was fantastic. It shows he’s human and wants to interact in a way he’s comfortable. There were no stipulations, and the questions Williams answered covered a wide variety of topics. He addressed why he doesn’t tweet. (See here.) He was honest about his flaws. (See here.) He talked about cars. (See here.) He answered why he doesn’t drink. (See here.) Heck, he even talked rap. (See here.)

You can read all of it here – or a shorter version here.

I said in my conversation about NYT editors using Twitter that it’s more than that one particular platform. It’s about using social media in a way that you can connect with your audience. Did Williams talk about serious news like ISIS? Yes. (See here.) But I felt more like I was at a cocktail party than a speaker’s session at a conference. Also, with it being on Facebook it was easy to follow, there was no need for a hashtag, and there was no difficulty figuring out which question he was answering. And because of the extremely high number of daily Facebook users (as of July 2014, 152 million daily in the United States alone), it will surely get a lot of reads.

Do you think this sort of platform works? Would you do anything differently?


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