Free State Social attendees leave with ideas, plans

Becca Booth

Naomi Shapiro

Wendy Smith

Jeff Risley

With no Twitter account or Facebook page, Douglas County Bank is a newbie to social media.

“We are all kind of floundering out in the world trying to figure out how this affects us,” Douglas County Bank marketing manager Becca Booth said.

That’s why Booth went to the Free State Social, where she picked up tips on how a business in one of the most conventional industries can embrace the emerging trend of social media. And, she came away from the conference this week convinced that social media was indeed the new media.

“People are out there doing this whether or not we are there,” she said. “So we need to make sure that we at least are watching and listening to the message that they are sending back to us.”

On Friday morning, Booth was swapping ideas with Naomi Shapiro, a stay-at-home mom from Wichita who shares family stories and product and book reviews on her blog,

With more than 2,500 followers on Twitter, Shapiro can navigate the world of social media. But, she said, there was still plenty to take home from this week’s Free State Social.

“The underlying theme is that you have to care about your audience. If you are just looking at the bottom-line dollar figure, it isn’t going to work. People are going to know you are being insincere,” Shapiro said. “You have to be nice, you have to care and you have to understand who your audience is and what they want.”

Booth and Shapiro were among the 300 people who attended the social media conference at The Oread hotel this week. Free State Social was sponsored by The World Company and

On Friday, conference attendees broke into small groups. Lawrence resident Wendy Smith, with One World Connects, was excited about the one-on-one time she got with the headliners. Smith asked speaker Shawna Coronado how to find a balance in the amount of personal information shared on social media.

“She was saying show yourself, show your humanity, that is what we are there for,” Smith said. “I was curious, being new to it, where’s the line. And she was very clear about that. And that was handy.”

Jeff Risley had three main points he will bring back to the office, the marketing and PR firm Barkley in Kansas City, Mo.

First, Risley said he received confirmation that the company was doing the right thing by staying focused on marketing strategy and not the technology tools that are out there. Next, he’ll follow up on the tips that the future in social media is with social client relationship management and mobile devices.

Finally, he said, employees and clients need to be reminded that to be successful in social media they have to get involved and experiment.

“You need to just go out and play,” Risley said.