Many businesses and institutions around Lawrence have embraced the use of social media. Here are five who do it well and advice they have for people wanting to start.
The KU Facebook fan page makes the top 10 list for the highest number of fans, topping 74,000. The page regularly features KU news, videos, sports updates and even print-your-own Valentine’s Day cards. Jack Martin, deputy director of university communications at KU, said having an active Facebook page was important because it’s a way for people to learn about KU that’s easy to find.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to reach people you may not be reaching through conventional media or at traditional website,” he says.
Martin said the KU Facebook page and the KU YouTube channel build a sense of community, and learning how to use them has been a process. He said anyone wanting to start a page has to be willing to adapt but also be willing to commit.
“The worst thing is to have a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in two months,” he said.
The week’s movies, upcoming shows and deals on video rentals are all posted to Liberty Hall’s Twitter account. But so are wacky links, songs employees are listening to and the occasional argument with a fellow Twitter member. Douglas Redding, manager of Liberty Hall video store, thinks that is OK.
“We have a very casual attitude,” Redding said. “We don’t consider its importance as a precise tool. We don’t think of it as a protocol of ultra politeness.”
Redding said that a more laidback image on Twitter is OK because employees are very helpful in person.
“We haven’t set ourselves up as being the sweet-as-apple-pie business on Twitter,” he said.
Liberty Hall also has a Facebook page, which it uses mostly to post event information.
City of Lawrence
If a major snowstorm is heading toward Lawrence, the city’s Twitter page will post what’s being done to prepare for it. Megan Gilliland, communications manager, and Eric Gruber, eGov coordinator, handle the city’s social media accounts, which they say are good ways to make information available.
Gruber said it was a good idea for new social media users to follow other accounts to see what they are doing.
“I think it’s OK to take your time to really get a decent understanding of how it’s used and figure out how you want to use it,” he said. “There’s no point to getting on Facebook or Twitter just to get on Facebook or Twitter if you’re not going to interact.”
When Local Burger gets a new menu item or is having a special, it is announced via Twitter and Facebook. When an article comes out about the facts on grass-fed beef, Local Burger posts that, too. Interaction and information plays a big part in why Hilary Brown, owner, wanted these accounts. Claire Stiefel now runs the account and sees a lot of people asking about nutritional information, ingredients and how foods are prepared. She’s kept the accounts active, something Brown thinks is important.
“If you start, make a commitment to it,” Brown said. “Realize that you’re going to need to factor that time in, or that employee, to do it regularly. Don’t just do it every now and then. Make it a part of your culture.”
LINKS: www.facebook.com/thesandbar; www.twitter.com/thesandbar; http://thesandbar.typepad.com/sandbar/; http://www.pandora.com/stations/bd868f20c3b00286be4acb19c2e35814a0f202080df67652; http://www.youtube.com/user/thesandbarlawrenceks;
Debbi Johanning, online content manager, started a blog in 2006 to record funny stories that happened in the bar. Since then, she’s started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a YouTube channel and even a Pandora station that mimics the bar’s jukebox. She said the goal behind the accounts was to entertain, but it’s also become a way for people to connect to the bar.
“It’s just another way to reach out to people,” she said. “I think people feel more loyal to a business or more interested in a business when they feel some type of personal connection.”
Part of making that personal connection, she said, is updating the different sites manually and spreading out updates so they don’t get overwhelming. But businesses need to research to see what would be best for them.
“What works for The Sandbar might not work for a CD store,” she said. “Different things just work for different types of businesses.”