Beware the social media "experts": an Eye on Chi Intro

Beware the social media "experts": an Eye on Chi Intro

'Expert' is a relative term. The first person to ever perform brain surgery was called an expert. We can all agree (fortunately) that such an experience level would not be given the same label today. So I'm leery of those who so freely dub themselves social media “experts.” It's a title I myself have not been sure how to respond to, except to say, “Well, I get paid to tweet.”

It's not a title that will be thrown around lightly.

So if not a social media expert, guru, wizard, or warlock, why should you read beyond this sentence?

Because fellow social media professional Katie “@Hollandersauce” Holland and I don't just tweet for a living, we live to tweet. We don't know where the “logout” button is on Facebook. We work and play in the interactive sphere. We are nerds and proud of it.

We will not claim to be the end all, be all on every social media platform, know every nuance of twitter, or every have visited every corner of Facebook; we may not have 250 hours of Google+ time, and some of our tweets may seem down-right inane. (Mainly the ones to each other...from the same room...).

But we know how social media should work. And we know how it shouldn't. We wouldn't have the jobs, the networks, and the hashtag abuse problems we do if not. We will use that knowledge to bring to you the Chicago-based outlets that are hitting social media on its ever-changing head, and help share a gentle lesson or two from those still swinging and missing.

Our criteria may change. Actually, we hope it does. Because what makes a social media expert is not the number of years on Twitter or the amount of friends on Facebook; it's the ability to identify, adapt, and still grow your presence without losing stride. It's reaching out in the virtual world and creating human connections in your own. It's crowd-sourcing and collaboration at its best.

Visit us here every week for local examples of the social interweb's best, brightest, and not-so-muchest.

We’re starting off with a media outlet most may know as the complimentary paper that gives them their celebrity gossip on the ride to work, but the RedEye, a free tabloid of the Chicago Tribune, doesn’t end when your L ride does. The small paper is one of our favorite examples of Chicago media doing social media right.

Now, we should note, we have personally been a part of the RedEye’s social media presence. While some may say it may us biased, we say it makes us authorities on it.

Jen says….

Digital Director and voice behind the Tweets and Facebook posts for the paper Scott Kleinberg takes a personal approach to sharing as the RedEye. Beyond just the days stories, the RedEye is a resources of fun viral links, engaging questions, and breaking news. There is a balance between what you need to know, what they want you to know, and what is just fun to know anyway.

These day-to-day standards make RedEye a successful journalism presence in the social media world. What makes them stand out, in our minds, are the chances they take diving into the unknown, going a step further than any other paper.

When Google Wave was all the interweb rage, the RedEye was leading the drive, hosting weekly Google Wave sessions with followers and fans. The wave may have crested, but the concept of such high-level interaction is one the paper continues to follow.

In the fall of 2009, began “RedEye Royalty.” In short, this “social media posse” was a group of active Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and readers that regularly took part in all they had happening. The title came with access to a special reader generated blog, a tour of the Trib Tower, invites to exclusive Tweetups, chances to be published in the paper and more.

It’s from this open engagement, I was able to build enough of a relationship with the paper to score a stint as their social media intern, as well as meet fellow Twitter-happy Chicagoans I would come to call friends, roommates, and co-bloggers.

Katie says….

So maybe we’re a little biased when it comes to the RedEye, but I wouldn't have become involved in the RedEye Royalty reader power blog unless it was something worth my time. The readers they recruited to contribute to their brand were part of an ongoing effort to build the RedEye’s online content and make it more relevant to the younger demographic. They did two very crucial things correctly in order to make the campaign successful.

-They recruited from Twitter

I didn't have a ton of followers, they didn't know who I worked for or what I did, but they recognized I was someone who genuinely liked getting involved in the online conversation about Chicago, and the people places and things that matter to other Chicagoans.

-They took it offline.

By getting us involved in the other blogger events, I got to meet my new Twitter friends in real life, Going to the Chicago Marathon, and BBQing by the beach, and partying at every street festival were all great to experience with this new circle.

The verdict

We give the RedEye 4 ½ #s (Hashtags) for their ability to engage the community beyond just Tweeting and Facebook posts. We’re hanging on to that half a hashtag as, while they still rock the social factor, we can’t help but start to feel a greater disconnect with the elimination of the regular blogger crew and the cessation of new ‘Royalty’ members.

All in all, the RedEye understands its audience, the social media. In order to maintain “pioneer” status, the paper will need to once again, wow us with more calculated risk-taking.


Jen Healy is a Global Social Media Specialist for a really big international (go figure) company on the Northside of Chicago. Her claim to social media fame involves a stint as the social media intern for the RedEye, America's Test Kitchen, and the title of “Top 10 World's Coolest Interns.” (Yes, it's real, and it's spectacular.)

Katie Holland is a Social Media Supervisor for a really big international (different from Jen's) company out in the west suburbs of Chicago. Her claim to social media fame involves a mention in the bestseller Groundswell for a Twitter interaction in 2010, and serving as co-chair of the Social Customer Care subcommittee for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. She is also featured in Rebecca Black's video for Friday. (Okay, not really) 



Leave a comment