Few strategies have better bolstered The Herald’s social media presence as the tactic we plan to execute tonight as ballots arrive at the Franklin County Courthouse.

The strategy is called “live blogging,” and if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out.

While it can take many forms, live blogging almost always involves a person — or sometimes several people — transmitting snippets of information from an event via social media. The technique essentially turns a company’s social media into an interactive broadcasting platform, providing and engaging an audience with fresh content while simultaneously creating a forum for discussion. Adding to the thrill of “breaking” news, live blogging via popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter also allows one to provide multimedia content to an audience, offering yet another way to relay relevant, compelling info.

If you don’t see its immediate benefits, I’ll share an example of how live blogging continues to benefit The Herald after its first experiment during Franklin County’s fire-scorched summer.

Only July 3, Crystal Herber, a fellow Herald reporter, and I heard a call go out on the police scanner for a grass fire near an Ottawa fireworks stand along K-68. We left quickly, armed with a pen, note pad, camera and a smartphone.

When we arrived on the scene, I snapped a few photos of area firefighters battling the blaze, eventually sending an image and a few facts back to the newsroom. After posting the news and photo online, The Herald’s Facebook audience went into a frenzy. Hundreds of folks were asking questions and seeking updates on the fire, which eventually destroyed more than 40 acres and $5,000 in hay. As the blaze continued throughout the afternoon, we posted fresh information and photos via Twitter and Facebook, which proved valuable to those interacting with The Herald online. At the end of the day, The Herald added 65 new Facebook fans and nearly tripled its viral “reach,” communicating with more than 17,000 people. Perhaps more importantly, about 1,500 people were “talking about” The Herald between June 3 and June 5 as a result of the coverage, according to Facebook analytical statistics.

While a somewhat grim example, the tale reflects how live blogging can grow interaction with and awareness of an organization’s social networks. What’s more, the efforts July 3 carried more traffic over to The Herald’s website than any other day in July, according to Google’s analytical reports.

Live blogging is no new concept, though its proliferation certainly has been augmented by Twitter and Facebook. Much like The Herald, other businesses, charities and organizations frequently employ the strategy to engage its base and interact with its target audience. Much of the American public is sure to see an example of live blogging this evening, as new groups like ABC and huffingtonpost.com plan to make use of the strategy.

And as we did during Kansas’ primary elections, The Herald will anxiously await the arrival of Franklin County’s voter totals to let readers know — as fast and accurately as possible — who will be representing them in government.

Like us at www.facebook.com/OttawaHerald or follow us on Twitter — @oheraldnews — for the most up-to-date information on Franklin County’s local elections.

Bobby Burch is the web editor for The Herald. Email him at bburch@ottawaherald.com or follow him on Twitter: @bobburch