We talk often about how the Chicago Tribune works in print and on our formal website. But two recent weekends also highlight our regular social media presence.
For the NATO weekend, we staffed a 24-hour social media desk Friday morning to Monday night to track the stream of conversation and information. Then we turned to a very different event: Printers Row Lit Fest.
NATO required working closely (literally and figuratively) with the breaking news desk, metro and photo desks and our video team. We extended our reach to share info with readers quickly, clearly and accurately. We watched tweets and online live video from events to identify flash protests before they formed. We listened to social media a great deal. When we talked, we shared information and clarified inaccuracies.
We coordinated with the rest of editorial, as well as departments on the business and administration side of things, to plan for different coverage and logistics scenarios.
Accepting the reality of potential delivery delays due to blocked streets, our client services social media accounts run by Autumn Smith on Twitter (LINK:www.Twitter.com/ChiTribCS) and Facebook (LINK:www.facebook.com/TribuneClientServices) monitored social media to make sure no reader questions were left unanswered online, and to ensure, as always, that our readers have as many ways to connect with us as possible.
While many special-interest groups did much pre-planning for the NATO weekend on Facebook and other websites prior to the summit, during the NATO weekend, we observed on Twitter as they made minute-to-minute fine-tuning of plans. We put social media tools in service to helps us identify flash protests prior to their formation by watching tweets, watching live-streams of video at protests as filmed by citizens carrying mobile devices, and by listening to social media as much (if not more) than we used it to talk.
Only a short time into the initial shift, we saw chances both to help readers who sought information, and to help clarify misinformation. Readers and other members of our online communities gladly shared images by email, Twitter and Instagram and posted thoughts and opinions about our city during a weekend when there were times that she did not look like her day-to-day self.
After wrapping up and analyzing the weekend’s efforts, my team then turned an eye to a very different weekend-long event: Printers Row Lit Fest.
Each year, the festival has afforded us as opportunity to experiment with new technologies and methods of connecting to our community of readers. In years prior, we’ve experimented with then-new platforms.
That’s how the Tribune got comfortable on Foursquare, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and UStream when they were new. We saw our readers out there, and joined them.
This year was no different. We connected with our readers through face-to-face conversations in the Trib Nation hospitality area, through Facebook, hashtags, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Pinterest and our web sites. And in so doing, our community of readers connected with one another -- with booksellers, with vendors and sponsors in all those spaces, too.
It all reminds me of my grandfather after I explained social media.
“I get that,” he said, after a few examples. “It’s a return to person-to-person business.”
And right he was that social media, while new, is more like an older way of doing business: Person to person.
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