Editor at Digg, before that at Reuters

Twitter Wants to Put Social Media Editors Out of Business


Social media editors thrive on chaos. Colleagues of mine like Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) and Matthew Keys (@ProducerMatthew) spend a ton of time poring over obscure tweets to find great content. For the regular user, it’s not easy to find the @ReallyVirtual's of the world. As a result, people follow social media editors to do that job for them. Twitter, however, has just taken a big step aimed at making the discovery of great content easier and reining in the chaos.

A few days ago Twitter released its first curated hashtag page in partnership with Nascar (here’s the page itself). The goal of this page and future iterations is to filter through the noise in a basic hashtag search and turn it into a neat, curated feed for ordinary users. Instead of burying a great behind-the-scenes pic uploaded by a driver beneath a mountain of less interesting hashtagged tweets, Twitter wants to surface this kind of content and present it in a clean product. With hashtag pages, Twitter is essentially cutting out the social media editor, the middle man in content discovery. 

This expansion into directly curating content is a continuation of Twitter taking the fate of its product into its own hands. TweetDeck created an invaluable, power-user experience, so Twitter bought them. Flipboard figured out a way to make content more visual and consumable, so Twitter created the Discover section. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that Twitter could iterate on its hashtag product to create something that covers breaking news events, the bread and butter of social media editors.  

Entire companies have been built on filling holes in Twitter’s product. TweetDeck, Hootsuite, GeoFeedia, Flipboard and many others grew on pain points unresolved by Twitter’s product. The job of the social media editor is no different. 

Now, social media editors will be an indispensable resource to Twitter for some time, and it’s possible that direct curation will never be fully productized. But the clarification that the hashtag product is designed for events not brands along with the hiring of Mark Luckie (@marksluckie) as Twitter’s Creative Content Manager for Journalism suggest otherwise. Social media editors probably won’t go away; they just may become much less important to the overall Twitter ecosystem and to the ordinary user. 

Twitter revolutionized journalism once before, and news organizations responded with the social media editor. Now it seems that the social media editor, the reaction to disruption, could be a victim of it. 

(Photo via http://bit.ly/LZcTBO)

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