When I listen to you on the radio or in a video, you sound like you’re from Chicago, but the Windy City is not your hometown is it?
Nope. I moved here in 2001 from New York City. I have lived in lots of places including Atlanta, Asheville, and, briefly, Boston-area and Santa Fe, but Ft. Worth, Texas is where I lived longest and where I feel my roots. On a related note, good cowgirl boots and Mexican food never fail to make me feel great.
What were some early social networks in which you were quite active? Anything other than Twitter and Facebook?
When I started in social media, MySpace was queen! For me, after MySace came Twitter. Like most people, I jumped into Twitter and it didn’t click right away. I stepped away and watched and contemplated its potential, didn’t feel particularly connected to it and ignored it a while. But then one day, I came back and it clicked in a big way.
Which are your favorites now?
Twitter. And Pinterest.
What kind of jobs did you have before landing your job as social media manager at the Tribune?
I was a chef (garde-manger and exec. pastry, in the end, though I held just about every other job one can hold in a restaurant leading up to that), wrote freelance and played around with film sets for years. I served as managing editor of a now-defunct literary magazine, freelanced here and there online and in print, and, in time, wrote my first novel. The novel, or the promoting of it anyway, cued the transition into the speaking realm, which I still do now, though now on many more topics besides just writing and book promotion. That period also kickstarted my entrance into the tech world. I clearly recall thinking, “This (digital media) is coming at us (writers) whether we like it or not. I better get out in front of it.” I decided to try everything and learn as much as I could about technology and digital media. In 2006, with a tiny budget to promote my book, I persuaded the publisher to let me take the reigns and use social media to promote it. I couldn’t be happier with how that turned out. I learned a lot through trial and error, and I feel like I had a front row seat to the early sprouts of what social media is now.
When I initially arrived at the Tribune in 2009, I was helping with the launch of ChicagoNow, the Tribune’s blog network before transitioning over to bring a digital element to the Tribune’s books section. After a couple of years in the books section, the opportunity to manage social media for Tribune Media Group was created and I went for it.
Are there certain steps you would suggest high school or college students take to get where you are today? Great job in social media, amazing author….and a radio host too.
Say “yes” to everything that excites you. Keep your eye on the ball. Fail fast. Pay attention to where your mind goes when it wanders, because that’s probably what you should be doing. Work hard. Strive to use impeccable manners at all times, even if the people around you do not. Don’t be afraid to speak up, ever. Jot down every idea when brainstorming, even if it seems like a dumb idea the minute you think of it. Spend time editing; it will make you a better writer. Learn the difference between writing an article and reporting. Don’t worry about what you think you “should” do and do what is interesting to you, instead. Trust your gut, really and truly and completely, because it will never you steer you wrong about a person, a situation or an opportunity.
(Never has it ever failed me to follow these things. For example, when it came to finding a publisher for my first novel, I knew in my bones I wanted a smaller, more hands-on press to do it. But, I got caught up in thinking about what I “should” do and spent almost a year trying to pursue the wrong agents, the wrong editors, the wrong publishing houses, etc. In the end, I kicked everything to the curb, looked up the publishers of the books that I really liked and loved, and went from there. My top choice won out in the end, despite insisting they were “not currently accepting submissions.” I emailed the publisher, explained that despite the submission window being closed, I thought the novel would be an excellent fit and offered to send him a sample. About three weeks later, it was a done deal. While I don’t think ignoring submissions guidelines is a great rule to follow, I knew it was the right home for my novel, and acted accordingly.)
What is a typical day in the life like for the social media manager of the Tribune Media Group?
I don’t think I have a typical day. My social media partner in crime, @ScottKleinberg, and I check in a lot and adjust and adapt all day. We try hard to balance the breaking news that requires swift action, with the steps in our other projects that aren’t so time-sensitive, meetings, training sessions and that sort of thing.
I first discovered you just before I wrote a blog post on the purpose of Twitter. You actually helped inspire the article because you were tweeting at the time about a robbery that had taken place in NYC, asking if anyone had seen the incident.
That wasn’t just any robbery! An old friend from way back was attacked in broad daylight, and (initially) nobody came forward.
That was just another example of social media’s usefulness, in my mind. I’ve found sources for stories through social media, I’ve done all sorts of things through Twitter and other social sites.
Do you see Twitter as a tool to help and inform others or do you think spammers and online marketers with auto-tweets are taking over?
It’s both. Stupidity and narcissism are everywhere. I chose not to waste life on nonsense, so I tune out the misguided. It’s interesting though; most of the things that are annoying about online marketing fails and spammers are really just the result of someone with good intentions, but who refuses to evolve and adapt and realize the business model has changed.
Personally, I use Twitter for news, I use Twitter to connect, I use Twitter to find information.
Are there any particular tweeps you look forward to reading each day?
Thanks Amy. I am honored to have had this opportunity to ask you some questions.
This concludes the social media section of a longer interview I did with Amy over at GotInterviews.com. Check it out. You’ll love it!