It's been a busy, fun week here at The News-Gazette.
One of my most time-consuming projects this week has been rounding up information about musical groups in the area that adult residents can join. I figured I'd get enough to fill an e3 centerpiece. I sure did - and then some. I'm not sure how we're going to fit in all the different groups who responded to my request, but we'll find some way to manage it. It's scheduled to run next Thursday.
It's been a fun story to work on because it showcases the diversity of music in the area. I can't imagine a better way to get to know your neighbors than to make music with them. The story will give you more information about groups like the Urbana Pops Orchestra , several Parkland college groups that have been around for decades and even more specialized groups, like the Fountain Trust Pipe Band , which has members willing to teach bagpipe newbies.
I don't know about you, but Fountain Trust's Web site makes me want to learn how to play, and hearing about various choirs makes me want to sing. So I tried to structure the story in such a way that you can easily see how often groups practice, perform and who to contact to get involved.
Along with music, I've been doing some serious thinking about social media. The News-Gazette's Twitter account announced this week its fourth Tweetup , and I'm teaching a seminar  next week for Twitter beginners at the Champaign Public Library .
I also had the pleasure of hearing Tim Miles of The Daily Blur speak about how businesses can use social media well.
He showed t his video  about how social media is changing the world, and talked about how many loyal customers are willing to pay a little more for an enjoyable experience and interaction with your business. However, until you've got your message right, there's no social medium in the world that can help you attract customers. Developing solid relationships is something that requires a little work every day.
He and I chatted after his talk about how social media can benefit a newspaper. (It's obviously one of my passions.) We agreed that one of the keys is being open, reliable and transparent. That's one of the things we strive to do with our Twitter account at The N-G, and I've long believed it's an important way for us to serve those who live in our area. We've always provided you with the facts through our print product. Twitter gives us the opportunity to do that, to ask for our followers' opinions and to listen to what you have to say.
Many in our newsroom are strong believers in community, and that's what we try to do with our Twitter account, whether it's done by reporting a street closure, giving away an iPod or hosting a tweetup .  In that regard, it's a lot like those musical groups who come together over a common love.
There's always room for improvement, though, and I appreciated Miles' advice that strong social media presence is a work in progress. It's not a cure-all, especially if your business doesn't have its basic principles down in the first place. I think it's important for us to keep in mind as we interact with the people we serve.