Defining the role of a social media editor has recently become a hot topic after Jennifer Preston (@NYT_JenPreston), who holds that title at The New York Times, went one month without tweeting. For some context:
- Should a Social Media Editor Use Social Media? (Mashable) — her reply is in the comment section and she has since become active again.
- Using social media is a key to understanding it (BeatBlogging)
Taking a step back, why should any chief social media person even be called an editor? (For the purposes of this post, let’s not debate the use of “social media,” which I happen to like.)
One reason may be so it fits into the traditional print lexicon; thus, it’s easier to understand what that person does because the term sounds familiar. This isn’t horrible, but it’s framing the position in the wrong mindset.
Instead, this position should be established outside the context of any medium. Neither this role nor the person in it should assume the title and implied limitations of a comparable leadership position.
Whoever leads social media at a news org should lead it for all platforms. And one manner that’s often forgotten is (brace yourself) human interaction.
All of this is not to prescribe a universal “social media editor” job description. I actually think that definition is something a news organization should outline on its own. (Like many things, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.)
Thankfully, we have Twitter to help us simplify the various descriptions being proposed. Here’s my less-than-140-character response to a discussion started by Patrick Thornton (@jiconoclast), editor of BeatBlogging.org:
“Social media editor should be a pusher and a user. Moderate, communicate, curate, facilitate & educate.”
I’d recommend reading the other responses, which you can follow and respond to with the hashtag #smed.
How would you define the role of a social media editor?