That headline seems funny in this day and age doesn’t it? You half expect automation everywhere you turn but in certain areas automation just doesn’t cut it. One of the areas where it is less and less attractive is social media and apparently the New York Times is taking the hint.
According to an article at Poynter.org
The New York Times is turning off the automatic feed for its main Twitter account this week in an experiment to determine if a human-run, interactive approach will be more effective.
Social media editors Liz Heron and Lexi Mainland are taking turns running the@nytimes account during weekday business hours, hand-picking and writing the tweets and engaging with readers.
What you’ll see: “@” replies conversing with users, retweets of non-Times accounts and more engagement opportunities for followers.
Well I guess the humanization of social media is getting close to being a reality if the “Old gray Lady” has decided that it has to, ahem, actually converse wit their readers.
To think that this is something that is treated as news is pretty funny considering all the talk of social media being ‘interactive’. Despite the daily in and day out clamoring of this concept among the social media industry it’s taken a lot longer for it to get to people who don’t waste inordinate amounts of time talking to people in the same industry about the same stuff over and over again (that’s the social media industry in case you are a little slow today).
The Poynter article continues
It’s a departure from the normal “cyborg” approach, Heron told me, which combines an automated headline-and-a-link feed of homepage stories with occasional contributions from the social media editors. That combination has created a bad perception: “that it’s mostly an RSS feed of auto headlines,” Heron said.
This week’s experiment “is about changing the perception, and it’s about being a little more strategic about what we put out there — finding the most engaging content.”
By calling this an “experiment,” the Times is implying that the outcome is yet unknown. I’d say it’s really more of a demonstration: an effort by the social media staff to prove to the rest of the newsroom that the paper’s main Twitter feed deserves additional resources to maintain this human-driven, personal approach.
I think this ‘experiment’ should be fun to watch and one that may need some assist from people who really want to see this medium become the communications tool it is purported to be.
Interestingly enough, the paper probably already realizes that having two people manage an account with close to 3.3 million followers could get unruly. As a result they are running this initial go for a week. My guess is that since most people are so used to the Twitter stream being just headlines they may not even see the difference in a week’s time because they are blind to what the Times is saying. I have several feeds I ‘follow’ that in reality I simply ignore because it’s not engaging. I keep them active as a ‘just in case’ but rarely do I really give them any notice. People may be ‘tweet blind’ to a cyborg headline feed like the Times has done up to this point. I know I can be.
So what’s you take on this experiment from the NY Times? Is it an ‘well it’s about time!’ kind of reaction or is a ‘could care less’ take for you?