How We’re Keeping Our Audience First: Investing In Community by Building Deeper Experiences Around our Personalities and Brands

In 2022 Bloomberg Media CEO M. Scott Havens announced the company’s shift to an Audience-First mentality with every action and decision the teams make, by investing the time to understand our customers across every platform we operate and to focus on building features, products and businesses that super-serve them. The new blog series, “How We’re Keeping Our Audience First” written by the teams implementing this mandate, will help show how Bloomberg Media is better serving our users.

The second post of this series explains how Bloomberg Media is investing in community products and experiences, with the goal of bringing our audience closer to our newsroom and personalities, and increasing our users’ engagement.

By Milo Booke – Senior Product Manager, Community 

Digital media has undergone a massive shift in the past several years as long-term sources of traffic, primarily driven by social and search platforms, have steadily decreased. In their place, forward-thinking publishers have invested heavily in distribution mechanisms that can directly reach and engage audiences through newsletters, podcasts, and events.

Bloomberg Media has prioritized each of these areas, but we believe that we can go further and create community experiences that bring our users closer to our personalities and franchises, as well as connect them with each other.

Since we believe that our investments and experiments in community products will have a tangible impact on our business by boosting user engagement, differentiating our products, and ultimately strengthening our subscription business, we’re placing our early bets in two key areas:

  • Chat & conversation. We think that our users want to connect more deeply with our reporters that cover the topics they care deeply about, as well as converse with each other in spaces that promote high-quality conversations.
  • Community events. We see a big opportunity around niche, intimate community events that bring together passionate superfans that are interested in exclusive content and networking, with both in-person and virtual experiences.

Chat & conversation

We are at an interesting juncture in the evolution of social media. If you speak to many people, they’ll tell you that their favorite forms of social interaction on the internet are group chats and forums based around their interests and relationships.

We also know that Bloomberg content and original reporting often serves as a driver of conversation on social platforms, prompting deep discussions on business, finance, technology, and many other topics.

We saw this as a clear opportunity to build our own communities, centered around the incredible work and engaging personalities of our talent. To facilitate this, we’ve launched two Bloomberg communities so far on Discord, a product for community creation and engagement.

For our first experiments with Discord, we launched two communities with two of Bloomberg’s brands: Odd Lots and Power On

Led by Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway, Odd Lots covers the most interesting topics in finance, markets, and economics, with a wonky and curious perspective. We initially launched the Discord server as a three-week experiment, but we were so blown away by the success of the community that it has become a permanent addition to the Odd Lots brand.

“Without this Discord I wouldn’t be able to interact with Joe & Tracy or the other smart people here, and it’s amazing for real time interaction during big news days.” – OddLots Discord Member

The server has become the place for superfans of Odd Lots to connect with each other, chat with Joe and Tracy, and access exclusive content. A community of smart and curious members has formed, and conversations about economics, markets, AI, energy policy, real estate, and numerous other topics keep it humming at all hours.

With Chief Correspondent Mark Gurman’s Power On server, we’ve set out to create an engaging place on the internet for Apple and technology enthusiasts to come together and engage with Mark more deeply on his reporting. We’ve also are using the platform to facilitate live audio programming, where Mark hosts a show that allows his readers to ask him questions directly. 

“There’s nowhere else I can find such well-sourced content about Apple – pretty much everything else I read is a recap of what has been covered here.” – Power On Discord Member 

These recent launches are only the start for us. We think chat and live conversation is becoming an essential tool for modern media companies to more deeply engage with users.

Community events

Alongside the always-on digital communities that we’re building, we think that in-person community events present incredible opportunities to bring together our users in the real world and create experiences that only Bloomberg can offer.

Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway host a trivia night in New York City. 

We’ve hosted a number of Odd Lots events, ranging from live podcast tapings and networking receptions, to a finance trivia pub night that have seen an incredible reception – packed venues, engaging conversations, and a real fervor to connect with likeminded people.

These events have clear synergies with the digital communities we’re building. Members of our Discord community are provided with priority registration and the ability to shape the live programming. We can also direct attendees to join our communities at the events, providing them with a platform to go deeper on the content and connect with other people they’ve met.

We have an ambitious slate of Odd Lots events coming this year, starting with Bloomberg Invest, and plans to scale this model to more of Bloomberg’s most popular franchises. We’re seeing that there is a clear opportunity to leverage the strong affinity that our subscribers have for Bloomberg’s personalities to sell tickets to small, bespoke events that offer exclusive content, opportunities to network, and a depth of connection that our audience craves.

What’s next?

We’re only at the beginning of our journey building community products. We’re hard at work launching and scaling new communities, building a leading consumer events product, and expanding our capabilities around live programming (particularly with audio). It’s an exciting time of rapid change in media, and we’re laser focused on building engaging experiences that bring our audience together.