It’s been far too long since I’ve featured a colleague as part of People You Should Know posts. I’m going to work on getting these back on track, starting today with a little Q & A with Gabrielle Tompkins – social media manager at Crain’s Chicago Business.

Gabi and I worked together at my last firm. It took no time at all for Gabi to stand out in the crowd with her knowledge and strategic mindset around the social space. Her work at CG&A helped land her a gig at one of Chicago’s top publications where she has helped develop their online engagement. Be sure to connect with her above or at @GabiTompkins.

Cheers Gabi!


You fill a unique gap at Crain’s as you’ve brought in a youthful perspective on the social space within the realm of a large, traditional business publication. What’s been your number one challenge in integrating social into the publication?

Gabi Tompkins

A challenge has been limited resources, as social media is still a relatively new enterprise for us.

A lot that can be accomplished in the social media space with inexpensive and often times free tools, but sometimes you need to spend a little to achieve new and different goals. We have had some really great successes with limited resources, and I think the real key is pushing to be creative with your assets and connections. And of course, it’s always a challenge dealing with the social media skeptics – and I enjoy showing them just how powerful social media is.

Briefly walk us through your daily routine.

No one day is the same for me, which is why I really love what I do. I have my daily tasks of updating and monitoring our multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with our other social media channels. I also monitor trends and mentions, making sure I respond to anything that needs my attention.

We recently started working with a video distribution company to help get our video content out to various sites, so I’ve been busy making sure there’s consistency across all platforms, and as with most new projects, little glitches happen, so it’s up to me to figure out how to fix them. Lastly, I carve out time everyday to explore new tools, and develop new initiatives, like our partnership with Foursquare, which launched back in May. We’re also in the planning stages for a small-business week, in October, and we have some really cool ideas in the works. We have a really active and invigorated small-business community that Ann Dwyer has done a great job building with our Enterprise City brand, so I’m eager to see how we can continue to grow this community.

What’s your take on Google’s testing of “Editor’s Picks” in a effort to battle the news echo chamber? Good or bad move?

My first thought is “Why aren’t Crain’s editors on the list of partnering news organizations?” Looks like I have some work to do! But seriously, I think it’s a great feature, and I’m excited to see if Google decides to move forward with it and roll it out in full force. There’s irreplaceable value in solid news judgment, which is difficult to replicate with an algorithm; a team of discerning folks will re-insert some of that value into the din of aggregation. When it comes to editorial, nothing (yet?) can replace an oxygen-powered brain.

I can only imagine that Crain’s has a similar “social media war room” similar to that used by Gatorade, no?? If no, what are you monitoring and what baseline metrics are you using to measure the success of social engagement online?

Ha! That’s exactly what our newsroom looks like. I monitor follower counts for all accounts, click-throughs, page views, discovery, comments (we get some fun ones!), active users–this is done on a weekly and monthly basis. And now that we’ve built up a really active and engaged audience, I’m working on getting some quantitative data together on just who it is I’m communicating with. Our social audience is younger and definitely more Internet-savvy than our print audience, but by how much? We’re still trying to figure that out.

I don’t have access to all the hot metric tools other big brands do, so a lot of my data gathering has been guerrilla-style, but I’ve got a great system down and have seen some great results. But as with all things in social media, nothing is the same as it was a week ago, a month ago; so what I’ll be measuring and how I’ll measure it will probably change quickly.

User-generated content. There’s always mixed opinions on the topic. To what degree has Crain’s embraced citizen journalism and average Joe content to supplement storytelling?

I’ve always been a big fan of UGC, and when done right, it can be really successful. We haven’t done too much experimentation, but we have some ideas in the works for our upcoming small-business week that involves experimenting with video content and pushing the limits on just how creative not only we can be, but our audience as well.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Gabi sees like she really is someone we are better off knowing. Looks like someone we can all learn a lot from.


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