Social Media and Common Sense

I used to live in Vancouver. I lived in Toronto for a bit. I even lived in Europe for a few years. I always find it strikingly interesting when I look at smaller population centres and how business owners, media outlets and others embrace social media marketing channels.

Wednesday January 26 Update: Interestingly enough, whoever is curating the KW Record Facebook page deleted a comment I placed in response to Wayne Gretzky's birthday. All I said was that I wished him a happy birthday and congratulations on  having almost all of his NHL records still standing (only one of 61 has been broken). Hardly a reason to delete a comment on a social network. Clearly common sense isn't a part of this strategic plan.

It's not only fascinating it's almost a sociological case study in real time. Please don't get me wrong, I don't mean to insult anyone who puts hard work into any project, I just wanted to point out what I recently observed from my local newspaper, The Waterloo Region Record.

They're a great publication which I in fact subscribe to locally. I get my paper each and every morning, in fine old pulp format, sip my coffee and browse through the local daily events. Low tech and enjoyable.

Even though I am a subscriber (and often read The Record online) they never made a case to follow their Twitter feed or Facebook page. Gripped with a new found curiosity, I went on a minor hunt and *gasp* I found my friends at The Record both on Twitter and Facebook.

Their Twitter feed wasn't bad. Although alot more could be done with this, they were using it as a news feed. For a newspaper this does makes sense. I wouldn't begrudge them that at all (engagement with readers, authors and peers is always good though).

Feeling a sense of satisfaction and local pride I moved on to the Facebook page and was horrified to find:

KW Record

Oh No. Please Do Not Do This. Ever.

In a state of shock. I tweeted:

Ok. Not the worst "ever". But Still.

To which I received a very nice and measured reply from a representative of The Record, looking for input and suggestions. I found a bit of time to reply to them and I thought it was appropriate and maybe helpful to post my reply here as well.

Hi There,

I made a comment about your facebook presence on Twitter and I have a few suggestions for you:

  1. The attached screenshot illustrates a key problem with the call to action. It is extremely overwhelming - users are saavy enough to understand the "Like" option on facebook at this point. An extremely large, visual call to action is akin to banner ads which would in fact drive users away from engaging with The Record.
  2. I would suggest you remove the banner call to action and make your Wall your default tab when visiting the page. This will make news and communication the primary focal point.
  3. As you are a news organization it might be an idea to incite discussion and engagement through the facebook page. A social network like Facebook is founded on open communication and discussion so reinforcing that is a natural step. News items can always be layered on top with opinion and insight, this is the perfectly natural venue for such communication.
  4. Focusing on engagement as the primary goal through your facebook page I would invite Facebook only editorial content from your readers, reader facebook discussions on hot topics such as the LRT, Municipal spending and similar content. These extremely important local discussions would benefit greatly from an interactive venue such as facebook.
  5. As it seems you're already using Twitter as a 21st century new feed which is fantastic (and extremely appropriate) I would integrate Twiiter as the feed into facebook and augment that feed with user opinion. That would now layer the up to date news (via Twitter) with the quorum you will create on a highly engaged social network like Facebook.

As a subscriber of you newspaper I think the above additions would greatly enhance the local news experience and strongly reinforce the idea of a "local" and engaging newspaper in a growing community.

I'm going to leave this post alone at this point but your comments and input are welcome and in fact encouraged. Am I off base here? Do we all know what we both like and "Like"?

I don't *think* I'm far off base here but then again I've been wrong many times before.

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