Social Media Blog
I'm not a huge fan of shopping for anything other than accessories online. It's hard to determine fit, color and quality by looking at a few photos. Then when your items arrive and they don't fit, it can take weeks and a few annoying phone calls to either get a refund, store credit or exchange the item.
But have any of you ever shopped with ModCloth? I found the site through a perfectly targeted Facebook ad. The diverse selection comes from indie designers and the price point seems reasonable. They're also a company that approaches customer service by using conversational technology.
While browsing, the dress pictured below caught my eye. It had a lot of "likes" (a feature similar to liking objects on your Facebook news feed) but only a three-star rating. Like most online shopping sites, customers can rate and review ModCloth garments, so I checked out the reviews and saw multiple exchanges like this:
Sarita Oct 21, 2009 -I just received this dress. I wish I could give it a 2 1/2 stars. The skirt part is quite lovely, but the top part of the dress looks cheap. The fabric is see-through in a worse than usual way: you can see exactly where the dress has fabric sewn on the inside. For example the area with the cowl and the back area with the open triangle both have extra fabric around the borders to reinforce it. This is clearly visible when the dress is on. And of course, you can totally see a bra underneath, regardless of the color of the undergarment. I would say to simply wear a cardigan with the dress, but that defeats the purpose of the cute cut-out on the back. Very disappointing.
And then this:
Reply from Sarah Oct 23, 2009 - We're sorry to hear that the Blowing Bubbles Dress didn't work out for you. We'd love to help. I'll send you an email with more information.
It's rare to see a company publicly acknowledging issues on a channel usually reserved for peer reviews, but it's a fresh approach - one I can appreciate, since I use social networks and peer reviews.
ModCloth was more than willing to share their customer service philosophy with me. Natasha Khan, ModCloth's Social Networking coordinator, said their efforts are based on brand experience, not just visualizing their products.
"ModCloth isn't a brick-and-mortar store, so the relationship builds online. Our customers relate to our company story, they enjoy playing our innovative social media contests, and they build communities on sites like Flickr and Facebook and on our own site by building conversations around our items," Khan said.
Their efforts don't end when a user leaves a social networking platform, which (in my opinion) is a crucial part of making social media work for any company. Encouraging positive or negative discussion offline or in private assures customers that you're not responding just to save face.
"That is how we build trust, instead of marketing at them, we join the discussion," Khan said.
Customers are human beings - treat them as such! A great piece of advice for any business owner, and a mindset we're adopting at the World Company (check out @SFBroadband if you have questions or problems with your Sunflower Broadband cable/internet.)
Anyone else have good examples of companies providing customer service through social media? Share them in the comments.
LAWRENCE, KAN. - The World Company is excited to announce the launch of LawrenceNow, a desktop application created in partnership with Myriad Tech.
The goal of LawrenceNow is to keep users connected to the latest news and events without constantly refreshing browser pages or RSS readers. It brings the information that users want to see directly to their desktop in a non-invasive way while allowing them to socialize specific pieces of content.
LawrenceNow users have the option to share specific stories on their Facebook and Twitter accounts without having to open a browser window. This represents a new model for traditional media by allowing instantaneous sharing of information and socialization of local content. By integrating Facebook and Twitter, LawrenceNow is adapting technology to meet users’ needs.
Users can also customize the look and feel of the application. Options include changing the speed and transparency of the ticker, color-coding feeds by category and importing feeds from Google Reader.
LawrenceNow runs in Adobe Air so it is compatible with PC, Mac or Linux platforms. It is available for free download here.
About the World Company
The World Company was founded more than 100 years ago with the launch of a daily newspaper, which became the Lawrence Journal-World. In 1995, the Lawrence Journal-World became one of the first daily newspapers in the country to formally begin publishing on the Internet. It has been featured in an NPR series titled Convergence Capital USA, and described by the New York Times as the “newspaper of the future.” Today, nine of 10 local households turn to the company’s newspaper, cable television, or Internet editions to receive information. In the fall of 2001, the World Company became one of the first media groups to combine its print, television and Internet news-gathering into one newsroom. Along with the Lawrence Journal-World and a related group of community newspapers, The World Company consists of cable and broadcast television and news operations; magazine publishing; commercial software development; and a broad range of news, media and technology services.
About Myriad Tech
Based out of Lawrence, Kan. Myriad Tech, offers cutting-edge services in the ever-evolving social media industry. As pioneers on the forefront of social media marketing and software development, Myriad is equipped with the technical knowledge and foresight required to build highly flexible Web, mobile and desktop applications.
The World Company
Social Media Manager
On Monday I shared some background information on our social media efforts here at the World Company, and today I’m sharing our complete Social Media Policy.
Please take a moment to read Monday’s Post to get a clear idea of our overall strategy and how the policy fits as part of those plans.
Our Social Media Committee created the policy in order to help guide the company and our employees. I took the lead in creating the policy, with input from the members of the committee.
The policy is split in to two sections. We define social media, and explain the differences among personal and professional social media accounts. Then we put together some basic guidelines geared toward protecting our company, employees, sources and clients. Basically, we want everyone to use common sense: If you wouldn’t say it in a column or on a postcard or on air or to a customer on the phone, don’t say it on Twitter or Facebook.
The basic guidelines apply to everyone in our company. In addition, each department is adding its own how-to’s. For example, Sunflower Broadband staff focus mostly on customer service, while our newsrooms’ relationship with their communities focuses on news, information and the people that provide or consume them.
After we finished putting the policy and basic guidelines together, Maria Preston-Cargill and Mike Zimmerman in our marketing department organized two “lunch and learn” meetings for the company’s managers and the social media liaisons so that they could preview the policy and provide feedback.
Kelly Calvert, our human resources director, distributed the social media policy early this month to all employees. After three months, the social media committee will review the policy to see if we need to make any changes.
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 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.
Since the Mark Mangino investigation broke on KUSports.com on Tuesday, we've been monitoring the story's progress across the Web. It's definitely generating some pageviews for local news organizations - online content published about KU football is up 184% in comparison to the week before.
The graph below shows what categories this online content falls into. Social networks are a dominant force, providing 42.12% of the pie, but I'm interested in the amount of blogs vs. news organizations. Nearly just as many blogs have been written about the topic as news articles. Hmmmm.... let's delve further.
When I checked to see which organizations had published the most content on the topic since Tuesday, this was the list:
Two major sports blogs (BleacherReport and Deadspin) sit comfortably in the top 10. Obviously bloggers would have a lot to say on this topic, but determining their influence over a national audience is trickier.
One of the systems we use to analyze online data has an influence ranking system. It factors in elements like page views (hits) and inbound links to the page itself to determine how important a single article or blog post is on any given topic - in this case, I used our KU Football data and applied a date filter from Tuesday through Thursday.
The most popular articles on the controversy thus far have been Jason Whitlock's columns (Mangino is an abusive bully and Weight issues are root of Mangino's problems), the Kansas City Star's "nuts and bolts" article on the investigation and ESPN's first article on the story (Internal review of Mangino underway).
What's interesting is that the remainder of the top 10 most influential pages are blogs from Deadpsin, Bleacher Report and SportsByBrooks. That means 60 percent of the most influential content about the Mangino controversy (NOT including today) is on blogs.
So while these influential blogs make up a fraction of the volume, they're dominating in influence.
http://worldonline.media.clients.elli... We've organized ourselves and created Twitter lists! We have two ways that we're creating lists. The first is on our @LJWorld account, and includes World Company organizations, reporters, editors, anchors and employees. Those are listed directly below. The second is @LawrenceLists, which is for community users.
World Company Employees and Organizations - A list of our news organizations, companies, reporters, editors, publications, etc.
Lawrence Journal-World and 6News - The LJW and 6News reporters, anchors, meteorologists and editors as well as our official news accounts.
KUSports.com - Our accounts about Kansas University athletics and the Big 12 Conference.
KTKA - Follow reporters, anchors and producers and get Topeka-area news.
Weeklies - Our weekly publications in Baldwin City, Basehor, Bonner Springs, DeSoto, Eudora, Shawnee and Tonganoxie.
Free State Studio - Check out The Drive, Jayni's Kitchen, Home & Away and The Turnpike.
Advertising - Our accounts affiliated with the Lawrence Journal-World advertising department.
Sunflower Publishing - Follow local magazines in Hutchinson, Lawrence, Manhattan, Shawnee and Topeka through Sunflower Publishing
@LawrenceLists is a way for all members of the community to participate in our official lists. These are opt-in lists for all things Lawrence - from KU sports to local music and politics. We are currently collecting names from local individuals or businesses who want to be included. Just make sure you're following @LawrenceLists on Twitter. Then go to http://www.ljworld.com/lawrencelists to sign up.
The completed lists will be easily accessible on Twitter @LawrenceLists and/or on a page on LJWorld.com. We’ll also be inviting others in the Lawrence community to share their Twitter lists and we’ll post those along with our own, creating a hub where any member of the Lawrence community can find Tweeters.
Every month I'm going to post the upcoming social media events in our area. I know we're more than halfway through November... but the holiday season is a great time to start a tradition! So step away from the screen and come socialize with us at some of the following events.
Here are the remaining events (that we know of) for November. If we missed one, leave it in the comments!
11/19 - Hazel Hill Chocolates TweetUp (RSVP)
From the Facebook invite: Handmade chocolate truffles, home-style fudge, crispy-creamy caramel apples and more — Hazel Hill Chocolate fashions delightful treats for every palate. Stroll into our cozy shop, savor the intoxicating aroma of newborn sweets.
Time: 5:00 p.m. - 7:55 p.m. Location: 724 S Kansas Ave (Topeka)
11/19 - FIFA World Cup Bid Blogger MeetUp (RSVP)
From the Facebook invite: Join us Thursday, November 19 at the Swope Park Soccer Complex for information about our bid to bring FIFA World Cup soccer matches to Kansas City. We are pushing to be one of 18 cities included in a USA bid to FIFA to bring the world's biggest sporting event to our country in 2018 or 2022. We would like to share our bid strategy and update those in attendance on the status of our bid thus far.
Food and beverages will be provided. Prior knowledge of soccer is not a requirement, as this event would be a huge boon to our local economy and would truly be a cultural benefit to all in the Kansas City area. Come with questions. We will provide the answers. Feel free to invite other bloggers/media types who might be interested in attending.
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Location: Swope Park Soccer Complex (6310 Lewis Road, KCMO)
11/20 - SMCKC Lunch @ Wil Jenny's (RSVP)
The Social Media Club of Kansas City is starting a monthly lunch meetup! This first lunch is laid back - just show up and chow down with other people who participate in local social media.
Time:12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Location: Google Map
11/24 - Lawrence Lunch TweetUp @ Jo Schmo's (RSVP)
Join your #Ltwup friends for a great lunch and conversation, this month at Jo Shmo's on Mass. Learn more about Lawrence TweetUps on the group's Web site.
Time: 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Location: 724 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, KS 66044
Depressed. Fail. Sad. Terrible. Hate.
Those were some of the most popular words used to describe Kansas University football on the Web last weekend. There was one other four-letter f-word that was fairly popular as well...
How do I know that? The World Company subscribes to a few software tools that allow us to monitor specific topics on the Web. Because we cover it so often, we run continuous research on KU football. This means we can see all of the Web pages published that mention KU football and see various statistics about them, too.
The 31-17 home loss to Nebraska - on Senior Day - was the good guys' fifth in a row, and fans went to the Web to vent. This weekend saw the most online conversation about KU football than any other game in the 2009 season.
The pie chart below breaks down the specific types of URLs collected on Saturday (11/14) and Sunday (11/15) that mention KU football. A whopping 71 percent of all of the online content about the KU vs. NU game was user-generated. Over 51 percent of that chunk was on public social networks like Twitter.
The only other game that compares with that percentage is KU's homecoming win over Iowa State at 59 percent, with 48.42 percent on social networks.
Compare this to the overall breakdown of online content since September 1, 2009. News coverage is the dominant single category, while user-generated content makes up nearly 52 percent. Only 23.53 percent of that is on social networks.
Now I can hear you saying, "Wow, Whitney. That's cute and all, but why does that matter?" Well, this data tells us a few valuable things.
First, the amount of online Kansas fans looking to connect on game day is growing. At the beginning of the season, only 17 percent of online game day content was on social networks. That's a 34 percent increase!
Local businesses (bars, apparel shops, news organizations, etc.) can take advantage of that visibility. Try offering a game day special and advertise it on Twitter, Facebook or your blog. You'll be able to track the amount of sales generated from that special by having customers mention the discount when they purchase.
Second, you can use the #kufball hashtag to share anything with us at the Journal-World. From tailgate photos to parking problems, if you use that hashtag, we'll see it. We can use this content to look for anything newsworthy and follow live fan reaction to the game.
Third, it proves that KU fans (locally and nationally) are gaining a better understanding of sharing their fanaticism through social media. If you're a lonely Jayhawk in a non-KU community, you can get a piece of the action by logging on every game day.
Did I fry your brain? Leave me any questions or comments below.
One of the most popular needs we hear from the business community are for guidelines of what they should and shouldn’t be doing on their social media profiles. After experiencing how local businesses interact (or sometimes don’t interact) with their followers, it seems some businesses understand successful behaviors in online communities, while others could use some pointers.
Below are a few bits of advice for Twitter that I give to any business we work with. I’m using Twitter this time around, because we have an extremely active Lawrence community on that specific network. However, this advice could be applied to any other social network based on its features.
First, anyone who follows me on Twitter may have seen similar comments before, so I apologize if these seem redundant. Even if I sound like a broken record, remember that the magic word in all of this is “social.” Just being in the space isn’t enough when it comes to social media.
So, here goes, some very basic but important pointers:
Engage your followers. Never ignore an @ mention or a direct message (unless it’s spam, obviously). Acknowledge positive comments, address negative ones and never leave a question unanswered. You wouldn't ignore a customer standing in front of you in your business, so you shouldn’t do it online either!
Don't limit yourself to trying to “sell” your followers. Daily specials and discounts are great things to share - but those shouldn’t be the only things you share. Social media (Twitter especially) is about dialogue. Listen and respond as much – if not more – than you talk.
Don’t treat online relationships differently than offline ones. If you wouldn’t say it to your customer in person, don’t say it to them online.
It’s not a popularity contest. Who you follow and how many followers you have are not the ultimate mark of success. Compare an account with 1,000 unengaged, uninterested followers to an account with 100 loyal, relevant and local followers. The second community is worth more in the long run. Make your focus quality, not quantity.
Don’t spam your community. That’s a great way to lose followers and damage credibility. Don’t post misleading information or links. Don’t use trending hashtags that aren’t relevant just to gain more eyeballs. Unless you’re actually at a live event or part of a topic – don’t use its popularity to get exposure. It will most likely result in a backlash.
Remember, every Tweet that your business (or those openly associated with your business) sends out affects your brand and your reputation.
If you’re responsible for an account, make sure you keep tabs on everything being posted. Be sure you know what is being said on your behalf and monitor how you’re being represented in the online community. One poorly judged update can do significant damage in a short period of time.
Do you have other guidelines that you Tweet by? Leave them in the comments.
Presenting the basics is always difficult, because you're never certain how much the audience knows about the topic. While it's challenging, I love presenting to groups who have yet to drink the Kool Aid, because they ask the best questions. I also like that we're doing a lot of educational sessions for the community (Did you attend our Learn to Tweet event?) A crucial part of integrating online tools into our news coverage and our community is making sure our readers know how to use them!
I uploaded our slides to Slideshare.net so you can see them, too. Please leave any good or bad feedback in the comments. Remember it's not always the same as seeing the slides live, since we don't have a recording of the actual speech.