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Social Media at 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. We’ll share the complete document, as well as details of its creation, with you in a second post that focuses specifically on the policy.

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 department. I 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 region.

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 flowing.

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.

More details are coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled for that info!

I hope this gives you some good insights on the World Company’s plans for integrating social media. Look for a second post containing the details of our social media policy on Tuesday.

Any questions or comments are obviously welcome.



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