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.
- Social Media in Extension Poster
- Beginner’s Guide to Social Media in Extension
- "Discover Your Social Web: An Ohio Farm Bureau Guide to Social Media. This a great beginner’s guide to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
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.