When Mandy Jenkins announced she was leaving her position as social media editor of The Huffington Post last month, she said she was “relieved to get out of the social media editor game.” Now her successor, Ethan Klapper, can’t wait to get into it.
Klapper, who is currently an online editor at National Journal, announced today that he accepted a job as social media editor in The Huffington Post’s D.C. bureau. When he starts his new job on March 26, he’ll be responsible for handling the Huffington Post Politics Twitter and Facebook accounts, and will be doing some product development as well.
Klapper said in a phone interview that he wants to help incorporate more social media into the Huffington Posts’s campaign coverage and is looking forward to learning from, and coaching, other staffers.
“I hope to learn more about how the reporters at such a big news outlet like The Huffington Post use social media in their daily lives, and I hope to be able to, based off my expertise, help them use it even better,” he said. “I hope to learn how they’ve become so successful in social media in the first place. What’s their formula? There’s a lot to learn from what they’ve done. I’ll always be learning in this job.”
When I asked him what his idea of “success” in social media is, Klapper said he thinks numbers and experimentation both come into play at The Huffington Post.
“This is not the best metric, but you look at how many Facebook and Twitter followers they have on their main accounts. Also, they just get a ton of traffic off of their social media presence,” Klapper said. “At the end of the day, they’re able to write those tweets and Facebook posts in a way that get the most reaction. They have a lot of fun and have a lot of ability to experiment with social.”
He pointed to The Huffington Post’s social reading Facebook app as an example of how the site has experimented with social media recently.
At National Journal, where Klapper will work until March 23, social media is just part of his job. He also edits the home page, makes photo galleries, writes short aggregated posts and occasional full-length stories, and runs the digital operation solo on Saturdays. At The Huffington Post, he’ll be able to take what he’s learned from his social media efforts at one D.C.-based politics site and apply it to another, larger one.
“I’m really excited to join what, according to comScore, is the most trafficked politics site in the country. That’s just something right there,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun transition for me for sure. I’m just taking in what’s being done there and seeing how I can make my mark.”
In the coming weeks, Klapper plans to talk with Jenkins — who now works for Digital First Media — about what he should expect from the job. When she announced she was leaving The Huffington Post, Jenkins referred to the role of a social media editor as a “young person’s job.” Klapper, 22, sees it a bit differently.
“I think that what Mandy said is true; we do tend to trend younger, but it doesn’t mean that just anyone can become a social media editor. It takes skills, energy and patience,” Klapper said. “Using a term that Mandy used in one of her blog posts, we’re more than just ‘Twitter monkeys.’”
Related: Craig Kanalley is leaving his job as social media editor for NBC News — a position he’s been in for just a few months — to return to The Huffington Post. He’ll return as senior editor of big news and live events.