Daily doses of World War II history deliver huge audiences for social-media entrepreneur

Posted on Jul 18, 2017 in Alumni News and News

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Judging simply by what page he was on, Kip Reiserer knew what his major should have been. Every time he came to the “Hitler and Nazi Germany” class led by Instructor Sam Newland, g’81, PhD’83, Reiserer drilled further into the textbook—and further away from his classmates.

“I had friends in the class, and nobody else read it,” Reiserer says. “I read really, really close to the whole thing.”

Kip Reiserer Reiserer, j’10, now combines the degree he did earn (broadcast journalism) with the interest he could not leave (World War II) for a social media following that has reached more than 150,000. On most days, Reiserer post two to four World War II photos and captions to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, illustrating for the young minds of the 21st Century the conflict that ripped humanity in half 75 years ago.

He has yet to monetize any of his accounts, but he posts at a heavy volume because what he broadcasts feels crucial to him, especially at a moment in history like the present.

“I do it because I think it’s important,” he says. “I don’t fully understand how the majority of an entire country could be swept by madness and change the world that much.”

Reiserer operates WorldWar2HistoryPics on Instagram, @WW2Facts on Twitter  and Facebook.com/WW2Facts.

A native of the Dallas suburb of Copell, Reiserer has long been enthralled by what may have been the most significant conflict in history. Although he did not want to make a career out of teaching its history, Reiserer found he had talent in the field of social media advertising and used his online feeds to merge the two.

In all three of his accounts, Reiserer posts a single photo or short video, accompanied by matter-of-fact captions. He never inserts an opinion and does not engage in political banter. His followers supported both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton last fall, and Reiserer’s posts leave room for readers to make their own comparisons between past and present leaders.

Reiserer’s interest in WWII began when he watched “Saving Private Ryan” as a young teenager. His appetite grew after viewing other films about the conflict and his mother started buying documentaries on VHS tape.

“There was a running joke in high school, that it was all I would watch on TV,” he says. “It was so foreign to me, and I didn’t know anything about Europe or the Pacific.”

img_reiserer_wwiihistory_bomberShortly after graduating from KU, Reiserer moved to Kansas City. Needing a job, he put his broadcast degree to use in an unexpected way by starting a Twitter account for other journalists seeking employment; @KCJournalismJobs grew to 1,349 followers, and he quickly found that part of the key to social media success is specificity. He would put that lesson to use for his next online hobby.

Reiserer says he never read much, until his mother gave him a copy of a 655-page tome of WWII trivia. He started devouring Don McCombs and Fred Worth’s World War II: 4,139 Strange and Fascinating Facts, and was so excited about what he was learning that he wanted to share his findings. In summer 2012, after moving to Chicago, where he works in social media advertising, he realized that he could.

“What if I just created a Twitter account, and just started tweeting facts and photos?”

So he tweeted his way through most of the Strange and Fascinating Facts, then began looking for new sources. No problem: The internet is overflowing with people who want to talk about World War II.

“I had a seemingly unlimited amount of content that appealed to people all over the world,” he says.

Much of what he published came from other World War II-themed sites, but his journalism education reminded him that plenty of the material floating along the bitstream is dubious. The list of followers was growing, and fact-checking before tweeting became a boring but rewarding task.

“You can go down rabbit holes on Wikipedia,” Reiserer says. “Or, I’m looking at somebody’s crappy WordPress blog, but it’s got one great photo—but where did it come from?”

Maintaining a healthy tweet rate, keeping his facts reliable and declining to rant have made Reiserer’s internet identity valuable to promoters. The film company Lionsgate gave him tickets to Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” to disperse to followers; a book publisher in New York, Simon & Schuster, handed him five copies of its latest WWII publication to give away (plus one for him to keep and tweet from).

What about promoting some product that’s not related to World War II? In the modern world of advertising, marketers are vying for relationships with influencers like Reiserer.

“I’m not going to be retweeting cosmetics just to be making money,” he says, and thus, his accounts have yet to realize any profit.

WW2Facts and WorldWar2HistoryPics are hobbies, but Reiserer would love to turn it into a career. The dream job: Sponsors would pay him to visit historic sites and tweet about what they hold. A professional World War Twourist.

Reiserer hopes to repeat for others the experience he felt in Newland’s History 341 class and help someone an answer to the question that drives him as he digs up another online rabbit hole: “How could it happen?”

—Ronnie Wachter, j’00, is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a freelance writer in Chicago.

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Tips for social media success

One of the crucial rules of building a social media following is an ironic juxtaposition against the entire concept of social media: “You have to be patient,” Kip Reiserer says. “I’ve seen the process and the patience it takes to actually build a following.”

img_reiserer_wwiihist_railroadWorking in Kansas City in 2010—a time when many journalists were early Twitter adopters—Reiserer earned more than 1,000 followers and strong interaction with a feed devoted strictly to media job opportunities in that area. After moving to Chicago, he began a far more successful run in 2012 with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts that drill into a completely different subject: World War II. For those trying to elbow out some room in the “Look at me!” mosh pit, Reiserer offers a few tips:

  • Stick to one, narrow subject. Although his subject spans the globe, affecting nearly every culture on earth at the time, and involved countless facets of life (economics, sports, entertainment, religion and more), all of Reiserer’s photos and captions connect directly to the subject’s core: armed conflict between two sets of nations.
  • It helps tremendously if your subject has deep emotional appeal, even if that appeal is to a small group of people. Even today, WWII arouses a potent mix of responses; with his Kansas City account, the hunt for a job is the hunt for money and status.
  • If you can find a niche, grab hold of whoever visits it. Reiserer says he monitors his feeds’ comments, watching as readers reply to each other and new conversations branch out. “If you’re going to do it organically, it’s the same concept, which is …”
  • “… You have to have a bottomless pit of content.” Reiserer stresses the importance of regular posting, which keeps an audience from drifting away to other attention-grabbers.
  • And keep working when the fans do not show up. “I’ve known several people who tried to create this account, or something like it,” he says. “It didn’t happen in a month and they gave up.”

—R.W.

Images courtesy of Kip Reiserer

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Jayhawks in the News | March 24

Posted on Mar 24, 2017 in Alumni News and News

KU campus graphics | www.kualumni.org

Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our biweekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes. If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at share@kualumni.org.

 

University alumna’s run-in with the law brought her to run her own animal law practice | University Daily Kansan

Katie Barnett runs an animal law practice out of her home outside of Lawrence. The lifelong animal lover was inspired to attend law school after an incident with the police and a pit bull ban in Shawnee. She graduated from the KU School of Law in 2011.
Read full article.

New Pizzeria Coming to Downtown Lawrence | 6 News Lawrence

New York native and KU alumnus Joe Kieltyka, d’69, is bringing New York style pizza to Lawrence. His restaurant, Stonewall Restaurant and Pizzeria, will feature pizza, fried chicken, and other sandwiches and salads.
Read full article.

Voice of the Kansas Jayhawks Brian Hanni credits Topeka West teacher with inspiring him | Topeka Capital-Journal

Without the help of Topeka West High School teacher Corey Wilson, Brian Hanni might not be “The Voice of the Kansas Jayhawks.” Back in the mid-1990s when Hanni was a student at Topeka West, he wanted to explore sports broadcasting, but the school’s TV program didn’t offer the option. Wilson “moved mountains” to help Hanni learn how to call plays.
Read full article.

Prairie Band LLC Names Jacob Wamego New President & CEO | Native News Online

The Prairie Band, LLC Board of Directors are proud to announce Jacob “Tug” Wamego will serve as the company’s President and CEO, a position he has held in the interim since May. Wamego, l’14, is a licensed attorney in the state of Kansas and Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.
Read full article.

Student Veterans Host ‘A Run to Remember’ | VFW.org

A tradition is building at the University of Kansas. A group of student veterans — many of whom are VFW members — are using their smarts, logistical know-how and passion for running to help their fellow vets. The run in November 2016 was the “biggest one so far,” according to the event’s co-director Randy Masten, g’03, assistant director of KU’s Office of Graduate Military Programs.
Read full article.

Max Falkenstien is still a mainstay at Allen Fieldhouse, 11 years after capping his 60-year career | University Daily Kansan

Max Falkenstien started his radio broadcasting career in 1946. The first game he ever called was Kansas versus Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) in the NCAA tournament that year. His career spanned 60 years, and he retired in 2006.
Read full article.

Christina Hoxie, AICP, Associate Principal, to direct BNIM’s nationally recognized planning studio | BNIM

With a diverse background of academic and professional work in interiors, architecture, and planning, Christina Hoxie, g’08, g’09, looks for opportunities to develop richly interdisciplinary teams and collaborate with the people of each community to design places, strategize programs and create policies that will help to fulfill their shared vision.
Read full article.

Chicagoan Obsessed With World War II History Creates Wildly Popular Sites | DNA Info

Kip Reiserer has no ties to World War II, but the 28-year-old Lakeview resident is obsessed with the topic. Reiserer, j’10, is the creator of wildly popular Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages devoted to World War II history, facts and photos.
Read full article.

Two Executives to Leave Uber, Adding to Departures | New York Times

Brian McClendon, e’86, is leaving Uber after two years to return to his home state of Kansas. McClendon previously worked for Google for more than a decade and was instrumental in creating Google Earth. He indicated that he wants to explore politics.
Read full article.

KU grad, Uber exec moving back to Lawrence to ‘explore politics’; mentions 2nd Congressional District | LJWorld.com

One of the University of Kansas’ more well-known — and most tech savvy — alumni is moving back to Lawrence from the Silicon Valley area, and it appears he may be eyeing a political run. Here’s another article about Brian McClendon’s pending return to Kansas.
Read full article.

Landon and Lucas, meet Landen Lucas | KUSports.com

Ten months after learning about the sly and sweet story of a set of twins being named in his honor, Kansas senior Landen Lucas got the chance to meet them Saturday in the lobby of the team hotel before the Jayhawks’ practice. The twins’ parents are Ian, d’11, and Meredith Sadler, who live in Tulsa.
Read full article.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon Elects 10 New Partners | shb.com

Three KU School of Law graduates—Sarah Baltzell, l’08; Devin K. Ross, l’09; and Lindsey K. Heinz, l’09—have been elected to partnerships effective March 1.
Read full article.

Business Briefcase | Hays Daily News

The law firm of Hampton & Royce announced its elevation of Lee Legleiter from associate attorney to a member of the firm. Legleiter received his juris doctorate from the KU School of Law in 2011 and has practiced with the firm since 2011.
Read full article.

AMS announces promotions | City Biz List

Beau Jackson has been promoted to partner at Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg, LLP, effective January 1. He graduated from the KU School of Law in 2009.
Read full article.

Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.

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