As the digital age advances, journalism outlets really have two options: Join it or close up shop. The Chicago Sun-Times serves as a prime example of old school rolling with the changes. Below, see what the Times is doing right in our social media book, and where we're left wanting.
Although there is a lot of bad news in their feed, they do actually pop in positive tweets to balance it out. Too bad it's Kristin Cavallari's latest "Dancing with the Stars" update.
They never actually interact with anyone, just push out tweets with a headline and link. Despite that, they still claim that the handle is run by real people. That's all well and good if you're only using Twitter to drive site traffic, but I think they are missing an opportunity. The only people they retweet is seemingly their editor. If they spent a little bit more time retweeting people who individually tweet stories from the website, it will give readers a little more personal connection to the paper.
While Twitter sentiments tends to take an informal, if not snarky overall tone, it's not something that is appropriate for every account. The Sun-Times, though having undergone some changes in the past couple years, is first and foremost, a news outlet. Looking through their stream, it's not necessarily the most lively feed you'll be seeing on Twitter, but it serves its purpose as a quick (and at least from my experience) accurate news source. And if you've been in the Twittersphere during any breaking major news story of recent times, you know that more often than not, newspapers don't break the news, they aggregate, fact check, and analyze. A tweet from a credible outlet like the Sun-Times validates or debunks what's been speculated in my feed.
The fact that I can count on the paper to be one of the first responders on Twitter to a breaking story tells me there's someone always at the Twitter-helm, ready to share.
Perhaps my experience is unique, but I disagree with Katie's point on interaction being non-existent; granted, they're not the biggest chatterboxes out there, but I personally have always received responses, be it a mention or direct message and even had a photo retweet or two. (Mostly fun stuff--I have not been sourced for any hard, breaking news.) As a serious news outlet, the paper, I imagine, has to take a great degree of precaution in what they share from virtually anonymous sources.
After all that, I do agree that they could still increase the amount they currently interact and engage. What makes Twitter the amazing resource it is is the ability to crowd-source and truly build a community, even if it is only virtual. I think the Sun-Times could see a benefit from adding more social media community-focused "soft news" highlights--be it a photo gallery or hyper local stories, to suggest two.
From Katie: #
From Jen: ### 1/2
Obviously we've had two different experiences with the Sun-Times. (Do we interact with them a different amount? Follow very different news stories? Expect different things from news? That's another science project for another day.) Overall, the Sun-Times does a solid job of getting the news to Tweeps quickly and accurately. For treating Twitter as a mainstream news channel, but stopping a little short in the community engagement field, we gave our respective ratings.
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)