Category Archives: Wichita Businesses

#localnews

When it comes to looking at which local news outlet utilizes Twitter the best, I believe that the reporters are the ones to look at. They make up the content that people are interested in, and can publish almost immediately. They can answer follower’s questions or comments much easier than the overall organization can.

Because of this, I feel the Wichita Eagle utilizes Twitter to its advantage better than any other local news. Their reporters are active on the social networking mechanism, and this platform allows them greater access to sources and immediacy of information publication. I’ve heard stories of Ron Sylvester tweeting up to date happenings in court cases from the courtroom.

If you think about it, Twitter is greater served for newspaper staff. Their information never had any fancy video or cool motion graphic presentation. By eliminating this presentation aspect, you now are stuck with the content. Newspaper staff have been typing away for years, so the transition is much easier. They know how to structure their stories for content, not presentation. In a way, Twitter saved the newspapers by equaling the playing field.

The other local news outlets do a subpar job, in my mind, promoting their reporters. I follow Cornish, Klose, and Schwanke, from KWCH and they only post about some of the top headlines for the upcoming newscast. I understand that television news wants you to come to their medium and watch their programming so they get more ad revenue, but I’m a fickle consumer and I want my news on my time. The better alternative would be to tweet your followers to come to your website. They would get the story from you and feel informed. The alternative is to tell people what is coming up on a medium they don’t care about and watch as other stations pick up your viewers and the ad revenue.

While on the topic of improper uses of Twitter, KAKEnews does a decent job at trying to detract viewers from their Twitter site. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much red and false sense of urgency.  Broadcast news is often ridiculed for showing stories about how you and your family will die three times before the weather segment. KAKE does little to differentiate themselves with their page. It makes everything look like it’s so urgent.

We’ve learned much about interactivity this year. Kansasdotcom interacts with its viewers. Denise Neil is talking about 10/3/11 being national sandwich day. It’s not just a broadcast message. She wants to know who serves the best sandwiches in town. In other words, she’s asking her followers a question. KNSS could take a number from this. Look at their tweets. It’s a broadcast message with no interactivity at all. Maybe some more interaction would increase their viewership.

So where does KFDI fit in comparison to the Eagle? KFDI has a cool logo for their avatar space; the background is clean and well presented, unlike KAKE’s. The encourage interaction on the page. Posting 11/2/11 asking if anyone has done Christmas shopping yet. So if they’re on par with the Eagle, why do I not think they are good. Content, or the lack there of. Why would people want to go to KFDI’s twitter if they put anything up there? Viewers assume they won’t find anything on the story they are interested in. KFDI went a whole month posting only three tweets. In a content driven system like twitter, that is completely unacceptable.

KSN is a mix of KFDI and KNSS. KSN’s twitter page is not distracting and doesn’t appear as jarring as KAKE’s. They update their content often, but they don’t invoke interaction. They just broadcast a message about what is going on.

The Wichita Eagle uses Twitter better than any of the other local news organizations. They have a sufficient amount of content, nice background and avatar use on their page, and interact with their viewers. KAKE could take some lessons with their layout, KWCH anchors could do more than tell me what is coming up on the news block, KNSS could do more than broadcast a message out and avoid interaction, and KFDI needs to post more. None of the local news outlets are atrociously bad when it comes to Twitter efficiency, but many need small improvements. The Eagle reporters do a good job.

One thing I like about KSN’s webpage, is they encourage you to follow them on Twitter. The section is towards the bottom, and kind of hard to find, but no other news outlet specified space for this on their website. KSN is a little similar to KNSS in their lack of interaction, but at least they are devoting outside resources to bring people to their Twitter.

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Filed under Business Use, Social Media, Wichita Businesses

This is a General Statement About a General Phenomenon

  Do people actually believe what fortune cookies tell them? I’m not saying that the cookies are not filled with wise quotes or decent general advice for life. What I’m saying is, do these generalities actually apply? Let’s say you’re at a restaurant with some friends and you get a cookie saying, “clean your room and your mind will be clean for success.”  The cookie is not part of your life, it doesn’t know if your room is actually messy, or if you are all ready successful. To add to this, what if one of your friends gets that cookie and you had another. You would switch messages. In essence, you’re getting a premade statement that may or may not apply to you, but contains enough general advice that it should be able to connect with you. …and, in sum, that’s how I feel about predicting the future of news.

Let me elaborate my summed message. We know very little about the future. In the ’50s, people thought we’d have flying cars and cyborgs by now. WRONG! Predicting the future of such a dynamic entity is a near impossible task. Honestly, you might not even be able to predict what you’ll have for lunch tomorrow, much less the future of the entire news media.

There are 5 things we can say about news that is true for right now:

1, news online is instantaneous and accessible once the story breaks. No longer do we wait for the paper or the 6 o’clock broadcast. The reason television news successfully outperformed print had little to do with images and more to do with immediacy of news. Rather than wait until the next morning to read about what happened, people could hear about it at 5, 6, 10, 1030, and in the morning. Turner Broadcasting changed the understanding of television news blocks when they created CNN. CNN was the first 24 hour news programming and viewers could now watch when it fit their schedule, instead of when the news broadcast or was print. This translated easily to the internet where news happens immediately and is reported right after the event. Only, instead of being broadcast to a mass, the internet made news more interactive. Comments on stories, and blogs took off making news more interactive.

2, reporters and news agencies use Twitter for the right reasons. What a useful tool Twitter is for spreading news. Reporters and news agencies found this out when they started using the service. We found out Osama Bin Laden was dead before the news broke on TV (*ahem* immediate access to news). ESPN covered the Phillies and Mets at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia the night Bin Laden died. No televised messages reached the people in the ballpark, but they knew what was going on because of Twitter.

3, only old people consistently read the newspaper or watch televised news broadcasts. Okay, so that’s a generalization, but not too much of one. Ask any tv news reporter what their viewer’s age demographic is. They’ll tell you that their consistent audience is older adults. Kind of hard to retain an audience that the grim reaper will be taking.

4, news websites are an outdated method for news. Whoa! The internet is now out of date? Yes, it is. Widgets and apps are becoming a huge source of news. Your desktop computer, laptop or smartphone brings the news to you right when it’s published. Websites are not a dead media, but apps and widgets are becoming more and more prevalent in news consumption.

5, news organizations are branching off into areas they are not known for. Radio stations and newspapers are starting to hire people who know how to edit video. Television stations are hiring people who know how to write stories for online publications. Convergence is creating similarities between the major media outlets, rather than extrapolating the differences. Look at the Eagle’s and KSN’s website. As of right now, 4;12 CST on 10/19/2011 they have the same story about slot machines arriving in for the new casino in the Mulvane area. Not only do they have the same story,they have the same style. Picture and print, no video.

So, let’s grab the check and crack open that fortune cookie. “The future of news mediums will continue to be unpredictable because of the dynamic forces behind the changes.” Huh, good job fortune cookie.

Okay, so that’s the general view of news media changes, but what about comparing how people have consumed news in the past to attempt to dictate the direction of news?
People like information immediately, or at least immediately at their disposal. No longer are we basing our lives on when news is reported. We are consuming the news: at  a rate we want to, with the stories we want to, from the sources we want, whenever we want to. In the next block I will give an example of how broadcast news changed. The traditional local broadcast model goes something like this (first segment):

1. Graphic crime story
2. Quick VO/SOT of crime story with a concerned citizen
2. Different ways you or your family could die
3. A look at the Weather (which I still believe is right outside  the window)
4. Followup on a national story about something bad that happened or political event (can be switched to first block if bad enough or with local connection)
5. Local Charity or School did something
6. Back to the Weather
7. Tease of a playful kitten that got stuck in a tree (the story doesn’t actually broadcast until the end of the news)

Okay, so the first segment of the local news has 5 different stories you are forced to engage in. Well if you went online, you wouldn’t have to sit through all the death and ways your family could die just to see the cat stuck in a tree. You could just click on it. And…if you had a computer or smartphone with widgets or apps installed you could just watch the story whenever you want without even going on the website. The traditional broadcast method makes viewers sit through things they are not interested in, but news media has all the stories laid out in a buffet style (the 2-year-old General’s Chicken is even out there). Not only can you pick from the stories that you are interested in, the news outlets show you other stories you may be interested in because of the one you selected. This is just comparing TV to online. There were changes between Print and Radio, Radio and TV, TV and Internet, and now Internet and Widgets/Apps.

I hate writing a piece about the future of news without stating a piercing belief I have about the future of news. But that would be contradictory with the message I’m writing about. I am writing about the future of news, but what I’m saying is we don’t know what the future is. General statements like changes will happen are of course accurate. It’s when you attempt to describe the changes that you become wrong. People in the ’50s said we’d have flying cars and cyborgs by now. Well we don’t, but their prediction, while wrong, indicated that we’d have more advanced technology than at current time. That is correct. So I’m going to say a general fortune cookie style statement about the future of news. It consists of two parts:

1. The future of news mediums will continue to be unpredictable because of the dynamic forces behind the changes.
There will be changes in our news mediums, but, because one change often leads to another, predicting all the changes is nearly impossible.

2. People will continue to consume the news: they are interested in, when it fits into their schedule and from various sources.
This isn’t a new trend. It started with television and carried over the internet, now it is transferring to apps and widgets. We’ll encounter new mediums along the way and the cycle will continue.

So maybe the fortune cookie is right.

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Filed under Social Media, Things With Cats in it, Wichita Businesses

Better Business Practices

How would you use Social Media in your business? Promotion? Interaction? Advertising? Any way you can?

I’m going to preface this story by telling you Mike Beaucham from The Golf Warehouse, and Will Scroggin from Cox Communications came to our social media class on 9/14/11.

Okay, so before they came I was wondering how businesses around the Wichita area communicated using social media. Well, it was interesting to see them use it in such a conversational and proactive way with their customers. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have complained about Cox Communications internet services before on the internet. So if I were to use my twitter account to complain, I would be shocked to see a response from Will. I think using Twitter to find people who are having problems with your service, and helping those people out with this service is one of the best uses of Twitter for businesses. I used to feel that businesses are a nonbreathing entity, and the only communication from this conglomerate will be by low-level employees asking you to swim through red tape, or by the accounting department.

Businesses only responded when a customer told the business there was a problem. This meant the customer had to go through the experience, contact the business, and then explain the problem. That process is a lot of work. People generally just complain about what happened, going through the process takes time and having to find the right person to complain to. Now, anyone can just hop on Twitter and complain, and, something that would surprise me, a person from the company is there to get feedback from the person. What Will does at Cox allows him to communicate to people on their terms, not the business’s, and this gets feedback to the business it otherwise would not have received. Yes the feedback is negative, but it helps them improve their product and their image by being proactive.

Mike at The Golf Warehouse uses Facebook to create conversation with his customers and promote products. The deals he posts on the page receive good responses; you can track that with Facebook page traffic and in house sales. Aside from using Facebook to promote products, I felt as though using it to interact with customers on a personal and fun level was a great idea. I especially liked the poll for what to do to the boss’s office after he left early. That creates traffic to your Facebook, lets customers take part in your business, and creates a reason for people to go to your page, which also happens to show off products. It’s using interactivity to get people to a webpage, creating a perception of fun on the page, all while exposing them to ads you placed.

So what about businesses not using social media right now? How should they implement this into their marketing? Creating a Facebook, Twitter and blogs = free. Having someone update, follow, and interact = hourly wage. The cost of creating social media is not the problem, rather the problem lies with having someone manning it. Social media is a great way for businesses to talk to other businesses, customers, or both.

So your company has decided to use social media now! That’s great! How are you going to use it? What plans do you have? What sites will you use to talk about what? What strategies do you have? …hmmm. This is a little more complicated now huh. Specific social channels have specific roles. Blasting the same message across two different channels will not get the same result either way, in fact people will realize you’ve done this. You will want to know what your target audience uses as their social channel, and go from there. Lets go make an example-

Bertrand’s company, Bertrand’s Bottoms, sells shoes. His company employed 15 people, now 16 (the social media guru). As the social media guru how do you approach getting his business more interactivity on the web while increasing sales and staying within budget? You are told that during certain sporting seasons certain products, sporting shoes, move faster than others, and this cycle continues throughout the year. Bertrand is a stickler too, he doesn’t want to spend any more money than he has to, yet he wants a quality message out there.

You want to set the expectation for your customers. I would suggest using the Twitter account to find people looking for shoes. Say you get on there and you search #running. People are saying their feet hurt from their shoes, well post to #running and talk directly to these people to let them know @BertrandsBottoms has a great shoes that will help them with their running and won’t hurt their feet. Using Will’s model Twitter can also be used to find negatives about your business. Say someone mentions how the shoes fell apart after purchase. Talk directly to them to see if you can help. This improves your image, and your product (you might not have known any problems arose with this specific shoe until now). Use Facebook to promote deals and interact with your customers. Create a flow of customers who will visit your page and see your product. Make a weekly deal that will help sell those out-of-season shoes and get interactivity on your page. Tweet your followers to check out your Facebook for sweet deals coming up.

There is no definite equation to get you more interaction from social media. F + T = More interaction and better sales does not always work. However, when used effectively F + T + Interaction + Updates can= More Visitation.

Social media moment of the week right here –

This taxidermist had a video made for his business. I’m not sure where he posted it at, but it was so ridiculous that Reddit and Digg communities loved it and his video has had tons of hits and parodies. While tons of hits does not necessarily mean more product, or in this case animals, moved, it does mean that people know of his business.

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Filed under Business Use, Social Media, Wichita Businesses