Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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A big year for social media

by Mike Ramczyk

December 27, 2012

For years, all we had for an internet presence was sharing some of our Lake Geneva Regional News stories online on www.lakegenevanews.net.

However, the popularity of social media and video has changed the ways we obtain our information and caused newspapers to think differently.

We finally caught up to the times on August 19, 2009, with the launch of the Lake Geneva Regional News and Resorter Facebook page. In an attempt to show a little personality and put some faces to names, one of our first photos was of the staff at the time. We were cracking up, and I was possessed to raise my hand and give a "rock and roll" sign despite having an off-putting armpit stain showing on my dress shirt. A bit embarrassing, yes, but that is one of the greatest draws to social media — flexibility.

From this crazy beginning, the Regional News and Resorter page now has 1,079 likes as of Monday. The page surpassed the 1,000 plateau in the fall of 2012. It primarily focuses on stories, videos, photos and other tidbits from the Geneva Lake area news world.

But that wasn't the only way we made a splash on Facebook in 2012. The success of the Lake Geneva Regional News and Resorter spawned two new pages, Regional News Sports Check and Reel Life TV.

In the beginning of the year, we collaborated with marketing students at Badger High School to see what improvements we could make to our overall product. Based on a recommendation from Phil Huff's class, we created a Facebook page to reach a younger demographic with just sports, Regional News Sports Check.

Whether it's a photo album, video, poll question, story or the latest scores, it allows for things we simply can't include in the newspaper. Also, these Facebook pages help us as journalists gauge exactly what readers want with their feedback. As of Monday, Regional News Sports Check has 578 likes since launching in February 2012.

Finally, we pulled off the hat trick with the Reel Life TV Facebook page. Started in February, the postings became more regular in the summer with the creation of ReelLifeTV.net, a division of the Regional News that features originally produced online TV shows and commercials that focus on the pulse and personality of the Geneva Lake area and beyond. Along with content from the newspaper on the first two Facebook pages, the Reel Life TV allows us to showcase local businesses.

Through Monday, Reel Life TV has 73 likes. For all you Christmas lovers out there, check out our Street Speak video series for an entertaining look at what people want this year and their favorite holiday movies and foods.

Twitter mania

It was another big year for the Lake Geneva Regional News on Twitter in 2012.

My account, @mikeramczyk17, increased to more than 600 followers, some local, some national and some possibly not human.

Twitter allows us to share important bits of news and information immediately as it happens, without waiting to publish something a week later.

While it may not be wise to tweet what you had for breakfast unless you're a mega, mega star, we've found that local readers and Twitter fans enjoy up-to-the-minute updates from big games, court proceedings or meetings.

Personally, Twitter got a little crazy for me in 2012. Historic seasons from the Badger and Big Foot football teams along with the Bay's first football win in five years spawned a Twitter frenzy. The local sports athletes even took it upon themselves to launch a fake Twitter account for me, "YA BOY RAMCZYK." Basically, if I tweet something funny or informative, this phantom person either retweets me or makes fun of me with a clever reply which may seem sarcastic but at the end of the day is all in good fun. It was a little much to digest at first, but when I saw a certain beloved area coach also had a fake Twitter account, I knew it was a good thing.

Not to be outdone were Twitter accounts from Managing Editor Robert Ireland (@RegionalRob) along with reporter Jade Bolack (@JBoReport) and photographer Joy Kowald (@Joytography). Maybe this year, I will convince my boss, General Manager and Editor John Halverson, and reporter Chris Schultz to join the party.

Overall, the four of us have over 800 followers, and with continued breaking news updates and other colorful content, that will continue to grow.

With two new Facebook pages, two new Twitter accounts and even a fake Twitter page, social media reached another level in 2012. With 1,730 Facebook likes as of press time, it's proof that if the content is right, people will care whether it's in a newspaper or online. The key is keeping it informative, entertaining and current. And it doesn't hurt to add a splash of humor.

So I hope you all enjoyed Christmas and have a Happy New Year. If you pass out from all of the holiday eats, don't be surprised if your friends Facebook or tweet a picture of you in all your glory.

Here are our three Facebook pages, make sure to like them.

www.facebook.com/regionalnewssportscheck

www.facebook.com/lakegenevaregionalnews

www.facebook.com/reellifetv