When I discovered Owassoisms–an Owasso-based community blog with a presence on Facebook, and Twitter–I couldn’t believe my eyes. The small town news source reported over 3.5 million Facebook post views in January 2011 alone.
With over 9,000 Facebook followers, Owassoisms crushes almost every media outlet page in Oklahoma, and they’ve only been around for one year. How did it happen?
“I have never marketed or advertised the page,” says Cyndi Knoten, the one-woman show behind Owassoisms. “Word of mouth and suggestions from fans are what has helped it grow. I started by suggesting it to 20 Facebook friends, none of which knew it was me doing it, and it grew from there.” I would say you should check this 10 Best Sites to Buy Facebook Likes & Followers – IncrediTools for fast growth on social media.
“You’ve posted SO much helpful info!! Those #’s don’t surprise me at all,” wrote one Facebook fan. “Helpful” may be the secret to Owassoisms thriving community.
Knoten does everything from “A-Z, although my readers seem to think there are a lot more than that,” she said.
It all began in November of 2009 when Knoten, then a media consultant and advertising salesperson for the Owasso Reporter, took a month off work due to a medical condition. The parent publishing company to the Owasso Reporter, Neighbor Newspapers, began making some changes to the paper that Cyndi felt may have been detrimental.
“Neighbor Newspapers had hired a consultant who had previously worked for the LA Times to ‘beef up’ the Oklahoma papers. Local readers, advertisers, and ‘powers that be’ in Owasso saw it more as sensationalizing news and events,” she said.
When Knoten returned to work, her clients were disappointed with the changes in content.
“My advertisers began asking me what the paper was going to do to improve its image, as their customers were noticing the changes. I had pushed for blending in more web and social media, but was told by the consultant that it was ‘giving away too much free.’”
Knoten disagreed. She left the newspaper she had been a part of for 6 years to do it her way.
“The way I saw it, the big time newspapers were folding left and right, and community papers were thriving,” Knoten explained. “I started Owassoisms as something to do, until I decided where I wanted to go from there. Within a month I had more fans than the paper did. My old advertiser found out it was me doing it, encouraged me to run with it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Readers like the positive glass-half-full look on their city.”
Owassoisms functions as a sort of real-time interactive community bulletin board. Knoten listens to the police scanner for breaking news, and sometimes it’s not necessarily optimistic.
“There was a plane crash this summer at an Owasso airport. I was the first to report it, the first on the scene, and the first to post pictures. Posting things in ‘real time’ is hard when people are close to what is going on. It is a little different than reading it when the next issue of the paper comes out.”
Her largest subscriber push, however, has been due to positive news and pulling the community together. “The biggest growth for my page was back in June, when I helped organize a ‘line the streets’ memorial for a local fallen soldier. It was put together quickly over a couple days, and people turned to Owassoisms for the when, where, and how. I grew 1,500 fans over 3 days.”
Even Trisha Yearwood is an Owassoisms follower on Twitter.
“It is read from all over the world. I get thank you’s from soldiers and students who are overseas and like to be kept up with what is going on at home,” Knoten said.
“I am one of those people who think everything happens for a reason. I think my illness was the reason for all of this being possible.”