The scoop on flavorful approaches to social media
NAME: Chris Taylor
TITLE: Chief Critic & Editor
Chris Taylor is chief critic and editor at Mashable, where he edits the new MashReads channel that will launch in April. The channel will be devoted to all things literary: Novels and nonfiction, also graphic novels, comics, Kindle Singles, Audiobooks and longreads. Mashable is a leading global media company for the digital age, with 45 million monthly unique visitors and 27 million social followers. Taylor, a British-born journalist and author of How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is a former senior news writer for Time.com and former San Francisco bureau chief for Time magazine. In recent years, he has served as senior editor for Business 2.0, West Coast editor for Fortune Small Business and West Coast web editor for Fast Company. Taylor is a graduate of Merton College, Oxford and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is also a long-time volunteer at 826 Valencia, the nationwide after-school program co-founded by author Dave Eggers.
Social Media URLs
Q: We have access to so much news on a daily basis. What kinds of information do you consume at the start of your day?
A: The first and last thing I turn to is Twitter. That gives me an instant sense of the mood, the chatter, the buzz, and whether there’s a story that needs my immediate attention. After that I check the New York Times and Guardian apps, all on my phone, usually before I’m out of bed.
Q: How do you use social media?
A: Constantly! If I haven’t checked Twitter, Facebook and Instagram before 8 am, it’s a very unusual day.
Q: How has social media changed your life?
A: In mostly positive ways. It has helped expand my horizons in any number of directions, introduced me to new real-life friends, sources and hundreds of people who share my interests. If there’s a tricky problem or unusual question where Google isn’t helping, I’ll invariably find it answered in minutes via a single tweet or Facebook post. Then again, I’m subject to the same ADD problem that afflicts many of us when it comes to social media. I’m more impatient, and that’s something I constantly have to work on.
Q: Do you think social media has enhanced or diminished our personal relationships?
A: Like any other technological tool, the effect varies by person; like any human invention, it can be abused. But I know a lot of people who have come out of their shell because of social media; they feel they have a voice now, and an audience, and it’s nice to see them grow in confidence. I think on the whole that outweighs the negatives, which are most often represented by a room full of people glued to their phones. But it’s important to remember that same scene used to be a room full of people glued to their books, newspapers and especially television. Social media enhances personal relationships when you compare it to television, for sure.
Q: What kinds of posts spark your interest?
A: Far too many to name — but if you can capture my interest with a good counter-intuitive headline, and the article actually follows through on the headline — you’d be surprised how many don’t — I’m way more likely to spend time on you next time.
Q: What is/are your favorite social media platform/s and why?
A: It’s a case of horses for courses: In general, Twitter for weekdays, Facebook for weekends, and Instagram any time I feel like a burst of visual information.
Q: Favorite hashtag or one you’d like to see?
A: I still have fond memories of #ExplainaFilmPlotBadly, which I think was a thing in 2014. That produces endless examples of the humor of recognition, and I’ve seen more than one person pin their favorite tweet from this hashtag to the top of their feed, even now.
Q: What advice would you give to a brand about how to get started with a social media program or make their existing one more effective?
A: Find a niche and stick to it! If people know to turn to you on a particular topic, they’ll learn to trust your voice on other topics too. Remember that all media is pretty much a level playing field now. If you have the energy, the enthusiasm and the skill to edit yourself, there’s no reason you can’t compete with the big guys.
Q: If you could follow any historical figure on social media, who would it be?
A: Douglas Adams. I think he would have had a love/hate relationship with Twitter, much as his friend Stephen Fry does, but sadly died just before the social boom began. I was fortunate enough to get to interview Adams just before he died, and I can’t imagine how witty his Twitter feed would be.
Q: Cone, cup, or straight from the container?
Q: Favorite flavor?
A: I’m contrary, so it varies … but most likely some form of sorbet if I’m feeling like being healthy, mint chocolate chip if not.
Have something to add or share? Please leave a comment in the section below. Feel free to like and share on social media. And be sure to join us next week when our guest on Ice Cream Social is communications professional and consultant to high-level government working groups, investigations, and commissions, Benjamin Bryant.