By Ben Smith
Social Media Manager
Lawrence Journal-World / The World Company
Social media is more than an online fad. It’s changing the way we communicate with
each other and with our communities. Here at the World Company, we have a tradition
of embracing new technology, and of being leaders in news and communications. Many
people in our organization have been using Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace —
personally and professionally — since the networks were born. But we think
that everyone in our company — from the customer rep in our cable TV division
to the newspaper circulation manager — should be engaged in social media.
So, over the last few months we’ve been implementing some major changes to include
social media in our daily operations across all divisions of our organization.
A big part of social media is to be transparent and open, so here’s a behind-the-scenes
look at how we’re embracing social media.
Social Media Manager
The first step for us was to formalize the role of social media in our organization.
I was appointed social media manager, responsible for coordinating and overseeing
all our social media activities, internally and externally. I report to Jane Stevens, our director of media strategies.
Social Media Committee
In August, we formed a social media committee. The committee consists of a representative
(and liaison) from each department and division of the World Company (including
the Journal-World, our community
newspaper group, Sunflower
Broadband, and KTKA,
our TV station in Topeka). We began meeting weekly to develop strategies and policies
that are shared with and implemented in each department and division. We set up
a Basecamp account —
online project management software — to share information.
With the committee in place, we created a social media policy to help guide our
company and employees. I’m sharing the entire social media policy with you, you
can download a PDF of the policy here. Feel free to read it,
share it and discuss it in the comments. I’ll try to answer any questions you have.
Social Media Tools
At this point, we have 16 Facebook pages and 62 active Twitter accounts.
We’ve also created Twitter Lists. If you need help from Sunflower Broadband, want access to real-time news and want to see who else is online
in the Lawrence community, check out our Twitter Lists. This is a project that directly involves
you, too, through @LawrenceLists. Read more about that.
We’re also working on some technology upgrades that will bake social tools into
our Web sites and Marketplace, including news, cable customer service and client
services. Soon, you’ll have more ways you can share our content with your friends
on your favorite social networks.
Social Media Client Services
Last month, after many of our clients and community members asked for assistance
and guidance in learning about or managing social media, we created a social media
manage it. Whitney
Mathews and Kristen Walker are part of the team, too.
We offer consulting, monitoring, analytics and brand management services for local
and regional businesses.
We also do workshops and seminars. In the last two months, we’ve given presentations
to the Suburban Newspapers of America/Inland Press conferences, area chambers of commerce and other organizations. We also held
a free “how-to” workshop on Twitter at the Lawrence Arts Center.
There is more planned, including workshops geared toward specific industries, as
well as community outreach and education. In addition, look for regular posts on
the cleverly titled Social Media Blog for stories about popular topics in our
We’re making all of these changes for a few reasons. First, we strongly believe
that social media enables us to better serve our community, our customers and our
clients with a valuable set of tools that help us keep communication open and information
Second, we know that Lawrence and the surrounding areas are some of the most active
online communities in the country. Because of this, we’re planning a major social
media event for April 2010. Some of the biggest names in the social media industry
are coming here to see what our city has accomplished in all areas of new media,
from heavier tech inventions like
Django and Ellington
to community-based efforts like user-generated news coverage and TweetUps.
Free State Social, The Forum for Social Media, is slated for April 29 and 30, 2010.
Details can be found at www.freestatesocial.com
and on Twitter @FreeStateSocial.