Advice For NYT’s Social Media Editor: Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken — And Do A Lot Of Listening

imageJust as her promotion to social editor was being announced this morning, Jennifer Preston posted her first tweet. She introduced herself and asked “How should @nytimes be using Twitter?” At that point, she had a few dozen followers, but by the end of the day, she had amassed more than 2,400. While she probably got many more suggestions than she knows what to do with, she did single out a few for responses, like @bewildia’s suggestion that NYTimes tweets should also “link to key source info, e.g., a link to [California] court’s ruling.” She also agreed with another respondent’s counsel and will use social media more for listening than tweeting her own views.

Preston was not available for an interview; I would have liked to ask for her thoughts on the recent attention NYT staffers have gotten for posting details of a recent meeting on social media and whether she feels a strict policy governing employee blogging activities, like Bloomberg is doing, is something she’ll explore.

But as to what approach she should take in her new role as social media editor, which in Preston’s case will involve behind-the-scenes coordinating with the newsroom as opposed to managing a new section, I solicited some thoughts from her counterparts at other publications, including BusinessWeek Online, and The Globe and Mail. While only a handful of pubs have someone to help navigate news outlets’ social media focus — such as the Austin American-Statesman’s Internet Editor Robert Quigley and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel