Award-winning digital content specialist with experience in strategic planning, website development, strategic analysis, social media and telling stories through maps, databases, graphics and charts. Skilled at collaborating with a cross-functional team to drive engagement, increase page views, and promote services and products.
The San Diego Union-Tribune saw social media becoming more and more popular in the late 2000s, and they wanted a strategy to take advantage of its growing popularity. They asked me to lead a team and develop a social media strategy for the company.
The team and I reviewed case studies, looked at what other media companies were doing, talked with experts, dug into our website's analytics, and brainstormed ideas. We then developed a strategy that included guidelines on what type of social media accounts the company should operate and how to redesign our website's section fronts and story pages. We delivered the recommendations to U-T executives, who asked me to implement it.
We created a consistent look and feel for our social media accounts, and we integrated social media more deeply into our website. The best part of the strategy, however, was watching an engaged community develop around our products, which included news, sports, the company's Daily Deal promotion, and more.
- Facebook fans increased from less than 100 in early 2009 to more than 6,000 by the end of 2010
- Twitter followers increased from a combined 7,000 to more than 34,000
- Visits to our website from select social media sites increased from 65,000 a month to 450,000
Engage with readers and the community through new and emerging social media channels.
'Check in for the U-T' promotion
The social media service Foursquare was launched in 2009. The new location check-in app and others like it were quickly gaining popularity in 2010, and I wanted to capitalize on it.
To do that, I created a location-based social media campaign to promote the San Diego Union-Tribune to people who most likely were not regular readers.
Working with the U-T's marketing and circulation departments, I offered a free copy of the newspaper to people who "checked in" at our Mission Valley offices or one of our kiosks.
Our offices were located near Fashion Valley Mall, one of San Diego's top tourist spots, and our kiosks were located throughout the county. That meant that when someone opened his or her Foursquare app to search for nearby deals, he or she would see the U-T.
The campaign did what it was intended to do, promote the U-T. We were mentioned in industry blogs across the world. Newspapers from other states called to ask how we did it, and the Kansas City Star launched a similar promotion.
This campaign sent the message that the U-T was a technologically savvy company. And it didn’t cost the U-T anything more than a few hours of staff time.
CNPA Better Newspapers Contest winning graphics
These maps won second prize for informational graphics in the annual Better Newspapers Contest, which is sponsored by the California News Publishers Association. "Drug arrests drop statewide after Prop. 47" won in the 2016 contest, and "Groundwater levels in the Coachella Valley" won the previous year.
Please click each map to explore it more.
'10 Picks' feature
One day my coworkers and I were discussing ideas for content that would be mobile-friendly and that could be shared on social media. During that conversation, I volunteered to do a listicle of the newsroom’s 10 favorite coffee shops.
Later that day, I posted the list online. It did extremely well. It was shared on social media, and it got thousands of page views.
We decided to post a “10 Picks” column each week. The purpose of each listicle was to tell readers about the places and things in the Coachella Valley that editors and reporters liked. We wanted readers to think of it like they were receiving recommendations from a trusted friend.
This simple piece of content became very popular among readers. It received a first place award in 2014 from Gannett’s Awards of Excellence. And it finished second in the Best of Gannett 2014 awards. The judges wrote:
“Digital Producer Robert Hopwood’s ‘10 Picks’ provided great information for readers on events to attend, where to get the best salads and which restaurants allowed you to bring your dog. The series is simple, well-executed and valuable to local readers.”