Monday, June 30, 2008

Fire ants and being part of the conversation

Using social media means we are part of the conversation. We listen, lurk, converse, share, collaborate, and learn. This post has a few ideas for listening and keeping up with the constant flow of information in the blogosphere.

Kathy Flanders asked me to blog about fire ants--not really. She wanted me to describe how lurking and being "part of the conversation" can help us spread educational knowledge and help others with their problems. Some would describe this experience as a "going to them" experience.

I read lots of blogs and feeds from lots of topics. One particular blog I follow wrote an article that suggested that grits kill fire ants and it linked to an article on natural remedies on web site called Associated Content. Though the article describes several natural remedies to kill fire ants that are probably urban legends, I commented on the one remedy on that suggested grits kill fire ants.

I commented "Grits do not kill fire ants. Research from land grant universities have tested many of these home remedies and they simply do not work. Please see the one of the many questions asked of those who research fire ants and educate the public on controls for fire ants".

I am not an entomologist, but I can link to research-based information.

Randomly and haphazardly, I came across the grits and fire ants article. Reading many topics outside of my expertise area is one way of listening to the noise. It's in the noise that we learn about things that we don't know we need to learn. Though the blog does not usually describe remedies, the false information is what caught my attention.

Using social media (blogging, social networking, Twitter) means we are in the midst of many conversations. We cannot rely on people finding information through our web sites. And, how do we know what people are looking for unless we listen? Also, the noise helps us learn.

Kathy and her colleagues may ask "How can we keep up and learn when fire ants are being mentioned on the web? 

Use a multi-pronged approach.

1. Perform a general search on the term you are interested in. For example, "fire ants".

2. Use Google Alerts on the term "fire ants".

3. Create a feed into your feed reader to let you know when someone has mentioned this term in a blog. Create this feed from the Google blog search.  I did this on the term "fire ants" and found this real estate blog that also describes home remedies that do not least she discourages the use of gasoline.

4. Consider using these 2 techniques for other key terms, such as your name, researchers' names, and your organization's name.

5. Follow blogs within your areas of expertise and interests.

6. Follow your colleagues' and peer departments' blogs.

7. Search for these terms in Twitter using Tweetscan.

8. Read what is Wikipedia has said about the topic. (And you, too, can contribute to Wikipedia articles).


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Session on Social Media

This week, I presented "Social Media" in a 20 minute session to a group of County Extension Coordinators with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Notes on this sessions are:

A survey of the participants was conducted. One item on the survey asked them to "Write down the 1st three words that come to mind when you think of Extension." Education, 4-H, information, and people were the most common words used. 

 The survey also asked participants to describe their most preferred methods (cost not considered) of delivering educational programs. Program meetings, face-to-face, and home and farm visits were the most used terms.

The survey also asked the participants to indicate the most important resource. People, information, education, and knowledge were the most used. 

People in our organization are our most important resource because of the relationships that they build with the people in their community.

People are influential because of these relationships and trust that they have built with people in their communities.

Social media is about developing relationships through conversations online.

55% of people who use social networks feel as strongly about their online communities as they do about their real-world communities (slide 17).

Extension has great opportunities to engaging new audiences, particularly when you consider that 87% participate in internet communities related to social causes that are new to them (slide 18).

Conversations take place anyway and we need to be participating. Being social on the web means that

  • we are part of the conversation.
  • communications are multi-way.
  • creditability can be realized.
  • trust can be attained.

Social media can help you

  • keep up.
  • keep clients informed.
  • share information, knowledge, resources, solutions, and expertise.
  • work with others.
  • stay connected with colleagues, faculty, industry, and clientele.
  • build professional relationships.
  • build professional reputations.
  • converse.

Anything you do, keep in mind: marketing, education, and communities (slide 37).

The Social Media: Learn, Share, Converse, Connect, Collaborate slideshow is saved as a Google presentation.

The informal survey was given to them when they registered and was returned to me at the end of the first day. In the survey, I asked them if they had heard or used some social media tools (I picked a few tools). The results showed that their knowledge of most of these tools was very limited. The raw data can be found in this Google spreadsheet.  The survey can be found here.

I did not have time to explain how using a feed reader can help them become more efficient in keeping up with changing information on the web. We will be covering that as well as how to use some of these tools.

From the discussions after the presentation, I gathered that some are seeing that they need to start using these tools. Also, they seemed interested in the generated word clouds I created in Wordle.

I am certainly looking forward to the upcoming training sessions.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

15 Minute Showcase on Twitter

At the ACE conference I presented a 15  minute showcase titled, "Working Differently: Using Twitter to Connect and Converse".  We covered a lot of ground in 15 minutes, but still did not covered everything. This post is the outline of the presentation and provides references that I did not get a chance to share.

*Use Twitter to tell what you are doing in 140 characters or less. Reality is that you tell what you are thinking, reading, or questioning.

*Though it sounds dumb, Twitter is a non-intrusive, responsive way to

  • Connect

  • Converse

  • Listen

*Use Twitter to share about yourself, your frustrations, and your funny stories. Though phatic messages are meaningless, they are the messages that overtime create connections with others. 

  • scottfillmer Had a very nice dinner with my wife, relaxing a bit before it gets time to sleep

  • jerobins got coffee and bkfast, done w/ feeds and email, well INBOX One ... gonna start that now

  • jonathan4au Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! Let's hope the day doesn't live up to its reputation.

*Share helpful links. Examples of sharing links are: 

*Use Twitter to ask a question. During the breakfast presentation, I was curious about something that the speaker said thus, I did the easiest and quickest thing -- I twittered the Question:  "I am curious. What's the 1st land-grant university?" Here is about one-half of the responses.

  • jasonadamyoung @aafromaa - wikipedia gives you four choices

  • jdorner @aafromaa - Iowa Agricultural Colleg and Model Farm, the predecessor to Iowa State University

  • vcverbeke @aafromaa Iowa State, 1864, from

  • bowerep @aafromaa there are several variable answers to your question. see looks like K-State may be considered the first.
  • Tex3911 @aafromaa wow, I guess that's what I get for only checking wikipedia. Burn.

  • sailingbo @aafromaa Good luck on your showcase! Apparently Mich State was "pioneer" land grant because the rest were then modeled after it. Semantics.

*Some organizations are using Twitter to disseminate information and to listen to their customers.

  • AuburnU See photos from the AU study abroad program in Jordan. Aquatic, camels, & more:

  • RedCross map of disaster response ops

  • Birmingham_News More: Plan for first commercial development at Grand River project in Leeds wins planning panel.

  • zappos Just finished lunch w/ CEO of UPS talking about future partnership opportunities w/ Zappos. Great meeting, they are great partners of ours!

*Twitter has been used in emergency situations.

*Several applications are available to make Twitter easy, pervasive, but not intrusive. A few are:

*Several other useful Twitter tools are available. My favorite tools are:

*Useful Twitter resources Tags:

Interesting lists of bloggers

100 Awesome Webmaster Blogs by and for Women lists interesting blogs for and by women. The list is divided into these categories.

  • Women in Search
  • Women in Marketing
  • Women in Design
  • Social Media, Organizations, and Writing Skills
  • Women in Business
  • Women in Tech

Also, commenters shared links to other lists:

Recap: Women in the edublogosphere 2007.

Wiki list of women bloggers

These are great lists to find some great blogs. Enjoy