Analysis - by Patrick Thornton on Thursday, July 9, 2009 12:23 - 3 Comments
Using social media is a key to understanding it
Mashable has a piece today noting that the new social media editor at The New York Times doesn’t appear to be very active on social media.
We think the answer to their question is clear as day. Yes, of course a social media editor should be all over social media.
News orgs should have social media phenoms as their social media editors. Someone who eats, sleeps and breaths social media. A journalist who can’t get enough of it and understands how social media can improve journalism.
Now, maybe @NYT_JenPreston will become that phenom, but she has already called her role “more internal,” meaning that she doesn’t plan on being more active on networks like Twitter, at least for the time being. I can’t imagine how someone who isn’t actively engaging in social media can direct others, especially on what’s next.
Certainly, you can listen to what others are saying, read sites like BeatBlogging.Org and grok what is and isn’t working on social media. Being an avid social media user, however, is probably the only way to innovate and see what’s next.
There are some very talent social media editors at traditional news organizations: Robert Quigley and Andrew Nystrom come to mind. Both are dedicated social media employees who were into social media before they got jobs in social media, not after. By being active and passionate social media users, I think they are well positioned to see what’s next and how to make their news orgs’ use of social media better than the rest.
We certainly wish Ms. Preston the best of luck at the Times and hope she does a wonderful job in her role. We do think she has a point about listening, and many so-called social media experts would benefit from more listening. By listening, she’ll certainly be able to understand what others are doing and why they are doing it. In the end, however, we think being active on social media (and loving every second of it) is a key part of being a social media editor.
I do a lot of listening and researching for BeatBlogging.Org, but many of my best lessons were learned from doing (and sometimes falling flat on my face). I’ve been a Twitter use since 2007 and how I tweet and why I tweet has changed considerably since I first started. I’m always learning new lessons by both listening and doing.
Social media is one of those things that is hard to fully understand and appreciate without getting your hands dirty. It is, in many ways, quite similar to blogging. Most people don’t fully understand the power of blogging until they do it. But for most bloggers (and social media users) there is that ah-ha moment, and I’m not sure if that ah-ha moment can come from just listening and researching.
I think what has been most important for me in my social media research and use has been my enjoyment of social media. Most successful people on social media (outside of celebrities) are successful because they genuinely enjoy being on social media and interacting with people. I don’t mind following both my personal account @jiconoclast and tracking what people are saying to @MsBeat, because I genuinely enjoy my time on Twitter.
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