What does it mean to be a social media professional in 2020?
Pearl Gabel: For me, I never think of myself as a social media professional, I think of myself as a communications person. I mean, it's the same thing now. I think in this day and age, being a social media manager is kind of being at the helm of your organization's comms. It’s so multidimensional, and it’s so vast and limitless as to what you can accomplish.
An amazing thing is that our social media is potentially reaching more people than all of the media outlets in New Jersey, you know what I mean? It's sad because the landscape of the media is changing, but we realized we have to step up, tell stories, and be that communication and fill a void, because there is a void in coverage of real New Jerseyans in media.
How has social media changed since you started out in the industry?
Pearl Gabel: I started on Twitter when I was at the New York Daily News. I was a staff photographer there, and they had told people you could get a Twitter [account] to share your articles. So I downloaded Twitter, but I didn't really engage that much with it. I had a bit of a revelation when I covered the protests in Ferguson. I was one of the journalists on the ground there during the first days, and that was the first time that I ever realized, “Oh my God, I can reach people.” That was my first real inkling that Twitter is really something special.
We've discovered that what we're doing with @NJGov on Twitter could not work on any of our other platforms. Twitter is super special and super unique in the way that we're able to engage and do the short, bold stuff that we're doing.
Describe your relationship with Twitter.
Megan Coyne: Oh, God, maybe a little bit codependent. [laughs]
Pearl Gabel: I'm still developing my personal Twitter — I'm still kind of nervous about it — but I am definitely codependent on it for when there's news, when there's a good show on TV, when I'm looking for something funny. I don't know... Twitter is the spot to go.
Twitter is all about the conversation. How do you decide which conversations to engage with?
Pearl Gabel: I'd say we go by instinct a lot. We're not afraid to respond, and we respond to people who comment, we respond to people who make fun of us. We see ourselves a little bit as New Jersey protectors and New Jersey fangirls.
Megan Coyne: Yeah, sometimes we start a conversation from an idea, or if there's a certain day, like, two weeks ago was National Bagel Day. So we're like, alright, let's Tweet about that, and then that started a whole conversation/war about who has the best bagels.
Pearl Gabel: It was New York versus New Jersey. Megan had a meme, and she declared New Jersey the bagel capital of the world. So then we had the city of New York coming at us, we had the NYPD 19th Precinct coming at us on Twitter, and we're responding and we’re Quote Tweeting, and having that banter back and forth.