On Oct. 13, with no big press releases and no traditionally strategic, multi-platform media rollout, BDCwire went live. If you knew where to look, you could have found it a bit before that, tweeting and Facebook-ing from Boston’s Life is Good Festival.
That’s kind of the point with the new, college-to-30-something-site — you have to know where to look. And it’s not on Boston.com. Even though BDCwire is owned by The Boston Globe, (and BDC is a nod to Boston dot com,) it is its own site with its own unique set of visitors.
Boston.com launched in 1996 and, for the first 10 years, “it really did reach people in their 20s,” Jeff Moriarty, vice president of digital products and general manager of Boston.com, said in a phone interview with Poynter.
But younger readers now aren’t loyal to any one site, and they get a lot of their information through the social web. So BDCwire’s taking a different approach.
“We’re really trying to drive the traffic through social media,” Moriarty said.
BDCwire’s using its staff and freelancers in that drive, working with people who have their own social followings and depending on them to help distribute content by sharing it themselves.
It’s also following along the path of Radio BDC, which launched over a year ago to fill the space left when WFNX, an alt-rock station, was bought by Clear Channel Communications. BDCwire wants to fill the gap left by former alt-weekly The Phoenix, focusing heavily on the events calendar and capturing the voice of 20-somethings.
“It has an edge to it,” said Alex Pearlman, manager of things and stuff. “That’s what we’re going for.”
BDCwire focuses a lot on the culture scene, including live, not-really-mainstream music and films, as well as pieces critiquing the fashion choices of Bostonians, the trend of taking selfies at a funeral, and a three-part-series chronicling the making of hard cider.
Unlike the traditional alt-weekly, the site is mostly staying away from politics and issues, Moriarty said, but Glenn Yoder, editor-in-chief, points out a regular feature by writer Noah Guiney called “Why Young Folks Should Care,” which focuses on local issues, such as the search for a new police commissioner.
“The fact of the matter is the new police commissioner will have a direct impact on how you live your life in your city. To a degree unfamiliar to many people outside of the force – or maybe the military – cops take their cues on how to act, and which crimes to crack down on, from the top. Police will always aggressively pursue murders and drug dealers, but decisions about whether or not to bust people carrying a joint or break up a punk show in Allston are due to policies set by the commissioner, often in conjunction with the mayor.”
The focus though, Moriarty said, is on content that’s viral, highly shareable, funny and interactive. Unlike some attempts to get younger readers to pick up a newspaper or head to the home page, that’s not the goal with BDCwire, Moriarty said, although it would be a side benefit.
“We really believe in bringing the right product for the right audience and not trying to be everything to everyone.”
There could be other projects like this, he said, including the planned expansion of the technology site The Hive, and ones focusing on sports and families.
Moriarty said he has three requirements that a topic area needs to meet before it gets considered for its own site: it must have a unique audience, unique advertising opportunity and unique voice.
“When those three things exist, then it may make sense to have a vertical site,” he said.
So far, Yoder said, response to BDCwire has risen above expectations, though it is company policy not to share traffic numbers. The key is interacting with the audience as much as possible, building BDCwire up socially, he said, and using writers with voices that feel authentic.
So far, those voices have included advice on which bars are good for World Series viewing, which horror remakes are actually decent and who they should be listening to other than Mumford and Sons.