Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do you use your real name?

I am reminded of a post when I first started blogging, Social Networking, the Creeps, and Learning, when an Extension educator asked me "Do you use your real name when you sign up on Twitter?"

My answer is yes, for personal/professional social media accounts.(YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare, Friendfeed, Twitter, as examples).

How do people know to engage with you if they don't know your name or something about you? I use aafromaa for a user name which is slightly shorter than Anne Adrian. In my opinion, creating a short user name is important, particularly in Twitter. I definitely use my real name in profile descriptions.

Imagine you are at a cocktail party, a conference, or a business meeting, sitting by someone who you do not know. You reach your hand out to shake hers and say your name. "Hi I am (fill in the blank)." The other person extends her hand, but says only "Hi." What do you think when she does not state her name?

I don't know about you, but my immediate reaction is that this person is trying to hide something or simply does not want to talk with me. (Honestly, I wonder why.)

Twitter and other social media tools are about engagement and about people who we can learn, enjoy, and interact. 

For people to know who you are, provide your real name and something that helps others identify you. If you are using Twitter for professional use, indicate your organization (for me that is Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University).

In your profile, indicate your interest or expertise area and a web page to give them a chance to check out your thoughts, your organization, or find out more about you.

When I am deciding who to follow, knowing who you are is very important. Because I am part of larger organizations of Cooperative Extension and Auburn University, I will follow anyone who indicates that is their organization is either of these two. In Twitter, I will follow anyone I personally know. If you don't use your real name, how will I know to follow you?

I will also follow anyone who indicates in their profile, their tweets, or their web link similar interests.

Your personal and professional credibility happens over time, based on your ideas, thoughts, links, engagement, and transparency.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some discussions centered around social media in Cooperative Extension

In the last two weeks, I led two discussions about using social media in Cooperative Extension. The first was a discussion with the Southern Region Extension Directors.

We discussed the following points with the leaders of the Cooperative Extension for the Southern Region.

1. Extension must participate in social media, as an organization and as individual professionals--including them--the Directors.

2. Learn to listen first. Use Google Alerts and Twitter Search to know what is being said about our organization, when one’s name is used, and topics of interest. Do this now. You do not have to have a Twitter account or a Google account to do either of these.

2. There are many tools available--you don't have to use all of them and you don’t have to choose the big ones, such as Twitter and Facebook. Pick 1, 2, or 3 social media applications. Possible social media tools for Extension Directors are:

Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Linkedin, Slideshare, Ning, drop.io, Friendfeed, AIM, RSS Feeds (learn what this is and how to use RSS), eXtension

3. Trust Extension professionals to stay professional online as we trust and expect them to stay professional in their own physical communities.

4. Christopher Rollyson and others suggest that there will be a decrease in the rate of the use of social media after people and organizations have tried them and have failed to capture an impact.

5. Extension should learn to use the tools "properly" which means that there are times we need to forget old rules and use new rules of education, marketing, and evaluation.

I suggested these resources as handouts for Extension directors to begin their own use of social media.

The presentation is I used during the Extension Directors’ session is:

A week later, I led another discussion on social media with Georgia Extension Association of Family Consumer Science.

They asked great and challenging questions.

Points made in this discussions were:

1. Social media, mobile computing, abundant flow of information, and disruptive technologies are here to stay, changing the way and the expectations of how we work.

2. To be successful, we must

  • learn to adjust
  • make the most of the technologies
  • learn to manage the flow and what is important
  • use the tools to listen, and at times using these tools to assess needs (much like we do in physical communities)
  • be willing to try different tools and techniques.

3. Use these technologies to join communities, create relationships (much like we do in our physical communities), where we build relationships, understand needs, and build educational programs.

4. Go where the people are.

5. Look at Wikipedia articles. Add and edit pages that seem to be lacking or misleading or not using research-based information. Create new pages in Wikipedia. Because you link to sources in Wikipedia, the sources are often land-grant information, Extension web pages, eXtension as sources, and journal articles.

The presentation is here:

After my presentation with the GEAFCS educators, University of Georgia's Associate Dean of Extension, Beverly Sparks during her luncheon address, "Bag Phones to Facebook", described

  • Cooperative Extension must change as technology changes and gives us opportunities.
  • Changing is not new to Extension.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Linkedin, Slideshare, Ning, drop.io, Friendfeed, Flickr, and YouTube are social media applications Extension professionals should consider. 
  • Everyone in Extension should explore social media tools. Start by trying any three social media applications.