Job Duties

March 22, 2012

Newspapers take social media seriously.  They have to.  They are shedding readers, not to mention ad pages.  So the need to shore up fans, increase reader integration, and keep customers interested in a medium where print is rapidly morphing into digital has never been greater.

It was announced last week that Liz Heron is leaving her position as the Times’ Social Media Editor for a similar position at the Wall Street Journal.  This is like going from Clear Channel to CBS Radio – a big move in newspaper circles.

But what struck me was the summary of her job duties at the Times.  The release said she “defined its overall social media sensibility, and established new ways of storytelling, gathering news and distributing journalism using social tools.”

It went on to say that Heron also utilized Google+ as well as set guidelines for how reporters and desks utilize social media platforms.

Here’s the interesting part: there was nothing in the story about how many “likes” she added to their Facebook page or how many new followers signed up on Twitter.  Nor was there any mention of generating revenue via sponsored Facebook posts or tweets.

Now I’m not saying that The New York Times isn’t interested in social revenue generation.  I’m sure they are.

But it is striking to see that Heron’s role was focused on strategy, enhancing the experience, and using social media to tell stories that compel and engage readers.  The pressures to create new dollars using social media are intense and we have to get creative in order to make that happen while fostering a real sense of connection with listeners – or in this case, readers.  But first things first – engagement and reader connections.

Radio has truly begun to make a more concerted effort on the social front.  That’s a good thing.  But too often, goal-setting with “likes” and followers has superseded building relationships and connecting with customers.  We have to build a sense of trust, service, acknowledgement, and value before we start ringing the cash registers.  What does success truly look like in the social space?

As we have often said in this blog, the newspaper industry should be radio’s canary in the digital coal mine.

Watch what they’re doing carefully – avoid their mistakes, but be sure to copy their successes.


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