Jennifer Preston, a veteran reporter and editor, became the New York Times first social media editor this week, and from her early tweets it looks like she'll be learning on the job.
Following the rules of online organizing, Preston made her twitter debut by asking for input, tweeting, "How should @nytimes be using Twitter?" Within a day she garnered over three thousand followers and probably had more innovative suggestions than she knew what to do with, but from the look of her latter tweets nobody thought to suggest anything so germane as learning Twitter etiquette 101.
Around 8pm on Tuesday Preston retweeted, "@AAdamGlenn: Thanks for all your help. This blog post you suggested is excellent: '10 Golden Rules of Social Media' http://bit.ly/2..."
Due to the "RT" that appears at the beginning of every retweet, Preston's entry went over 140 characters, the limit set by Twitter based on the length of most text messages, which led Glenn's original link to be shortened. The result: instead of linking readers to 10 Golden Rules On Social Media, she sent readers directly to eBay's homepage.
As though to highlight the importance of eBay to the Times, Preston retweeted the same thing only moments later.
On Wednesday afternoon I replied to Preston's tweet to alert her to the error:
The message didn't get through, as the two problematic tweets have not been removed.
The Wild West of new social media platforms can be a minefield, and the dangers inherent to Twitter in particular have been well documented (here's my favorite of all Twitter faux pas). But Preston's rookie mistake begs the question of whether the expertise of a veteran news reporter carries over into the world of social media.
The Times deputy managing editor Jonathan Landman admitted that Preston might be a little rough around the edges. According to Matt Haber at The New York Observer Landman said, "She's not an expert to start with, but I don't think that's a terrible handicap here in real ways. Nobody's an expert."
Seeing as how social media has been around as long as the Internet, I wonder if Landman is correct in saying there are no experts out there.
I'm interested to hear what you think. And let's have the conversation over twitter. I'm @mpalevsky.