Social Media

The Rise of the Humans

There was an interesting story published yesterday on Mediabistro's 10,000 Words blog, describing an ongoing 'social experiment' by the New York Times social media editors.

Until now, the @NYTimes Twitter account largely has been automated — simply auto-tweeting the headlines of and a link to whichever stories are published on the Times‘ website.

But for this week, social media editors Lexi Mainland and Liz Heron turned off the auto-tweeter, and instead have been “hand-writing” (as it were) all their own tweets.  So how has this experiment been going?  10,000 Words blog author Jessica Roy writes:

As it turns out, the differences between the automated feed and the handwritten one are pretty stark. For avid Twitter users, some of these changes may seem a little duh-worthy, but for a news organization with a notoriously ambivalent relationship with social media, these changes may represent an important attitudinal shift in regards to social networking.

According to Roy — and, really, it’s plain to see on the NYTimes Twitter feed — the human-written posts A) have a ton more retweets (that’s when another Twitter user passes a tweet of yours on to his or her friends, B) have a ton more @replies (that’s when another Twitter user replies to a tweet, typically asking a question or making a comment — chiming in, in other words), C) have a ton more personality, and D) have a ton more #hashtags (these are used to organize tweets by specific topics, and allow for easy searching by other Twitter users).

Meaning?  Human-run Twitter feed are a lot more A) communal, B) interactive, C) fun, and D) useful.  Maybe something to consider for your association, group, meeting, or convention’s Twitter feed?

For comparison’s sake, here’s a screengrab of an automated portion of the NYTimes Twitter feed:

And here’s a screengrab of the human-run portion:

Big difference, no?

Hunter R. Slaton

Contributing Editor Hunter R. Slaton is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn.