Friday, November 19, 2010

Q & A with a Marketing SIG

The ACE Marketing SIG asked me to do a Q&A about my job as a social media strategist for the Military Families Partnership which is a Department of Defense Initiative with NIFA and Cooperative Extension.

Rather than keeping my answers closed in the email reply, I am sharing them here.

Q: What is a Social Media Strategist?

I was hired to help eXtension Communities of Practice--in particular those whose work in helping military families and military family service professionals--use, surf, lurk, engage, and co-create in online social spaces. Most organizations hire social media strategists either full-time or through a consultant arrangement to advise them on using social media for marketing. Because our (Cooperative Extension’s) role is in education, we see that social media strategies and tactics should be grounded in our education role. While we will certainly use social media to market and find new audiences, we are not solely concentrating our social media efforts in marketing.

Q: How would you describe your day to day work?

The Military Families Community of Practice (CoP) work is still developing in its early stages. Most of my work thus far has been in trying to build relationships with eXtension CoP leaders, DoD, NIFA and other partners. Soon, I hope you will begin to see some products. We hope to have professional development sessions around social media. We also want to help CoPs design professional development sessions that are sought by military family service professionals and are indicated by DoD priority areas--personal finance, child care, community capacity, and workforce development. We want to integrate and wrap social media applications around these sessions and the content that will developed for those sessions. For instance, we want to use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, some military social spaces, like Military One Source, to talk about the sessions, before, during and after the web conferences. The use of social media will be used not only to market but to share educational content and engage with people who are interested in the topics.

My days right now are more in the planning stages. I foresee my days in the future working with directly with the Military Families CoP, partners, existing CoPs, and other Cooperative Extension professionals in how to use online tools to accomplish their educational goals.

Q: While your work deals with Military Families Partnership, do you see other areas where Extension programming work and social media strategy could benefit from or is benefitting from?

Absolutely. As we build a social media strategy and use social media for the Military Families Partnership, these efforts will be intertwined with other eXtension CoP work and with Cooperative Extension work. As we develop professional development sessions around social media these sessions will be open to the public and will target both Cooperative Extension and military family service professionals (those who work for DoD and the military service branches).

Watch for these on In fact, we have asked John Dorner and Kyleen Burgess of North Carolina to provide a session on Facebook privacy settings for professionals on November 30.

Q: What about social media should marketing professionals keep in mind?

Most examples and social media strategists talk about using social media for marketing. Many of these strategies are designed in traditional marketing strategies using new tools. The problem with this approach is eventually the marketing – the broadcasts – become noise and eventually ignored. If we consider social media more like social space – comparing online social spaces to traditional and physical social spaces--we see social media more of a place to meet people, engage, listen, and learn. Then we turn those conversations into meaningful actions in developing education. Albeit in traditional social spaces, conversations and interactions are not usually recorded. Cooperative Extension’s product is education. A progressive approach is to not only think of social media as another way to market Cooperative Extension programs, but also to align social media with educational efforts to help accomplish educational and learning goals. Using social media to become members of communities where the members (Cooperative Extension professionals and clients) share learning goals so that the teaching is not always one way (Cooperative Extension professionals to clients), but rather the interaction and engagement yields learning and teaching by potential all members (Cooperative Extension professionals and clients) of the community. Marketing professionals have an opportunity to lead the way and model crossing functional lines and integrating education, marketing, public relations, and content creation by first looking at the social media space as a place they can learn and interact with others (in and outside of Cooperative Extension).

My most prominent piece of advice is to start now. Start listening online, then teach others—educators and administrators how to listen online. Start by creating Google Alerts, blog searches, and Twitter searches on typical words used to describe Extension institutions Cooperative Extension professionals and areas of interests. Here are some of the search terms I have used: Alabama Cooperative Extension (Google Alert), county agents, Extension agents, County Extension, oil spill, bioenergy, alfalfa, nutrition, counting calories, military child, child care. I changed these terms to others as I need to learn what people are saying about other topics.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Facebook Pages for Organizations

Some organizations have already created Facebook Pages, others have created Profile accounts. And, there are some others which are considering creating a Facebook presence, but are not sure whether to create a Page or a Profile account. Before making a decision about using Facebook for business purposes, here are some considerations:

  • Read Facebook’s terms of agreement. Of course, you have already agreed on those terms when you created an account.
  • Pages are for organizations. Profile accounts are for individuals. From Facebook's terms of service: "Profiles represent individuals and must be held under an individual name, while Pages allow an organization, business, celebrity, or band to maintain a professional presence on Facebook." The terms of service says clearly that a Profile account should represent an individual.
  • Pages are distinct presences that communicate, distribute information and content, engage their fans, and capture new audiences virally through their fans’ recommendations to their friends.
  • Pages offer analytics; Profile accounts do not. Analytics include how many likes, comments you received each day, and demographic information.
  • Pages are designed to be a media rich, valuable presence solution for an organization.
  • Pages are customizable. Profile accounts are more limited.
  • Pages offer a “Like” button (or a widget) that you can embed into web pages. Profile accounts do not have widgets.
  • Pages have unlimited fans (or likes). Profile accounts are limited to 5,000 friends.
  • Pages allow you to email everyone in your fan base. Profile accounts limit you to sending 20 emails at a time.
  • Pages automatically accept fan requests. Profile accounts require you to manually accept new friend requests.
  • If you are using an Profile account, instead of a Page for your organization, individuals might be less reluctant to friend a Profile account that represents a group or an organization—because an organization is not a person.
  • Facebook does not provide a way to convert a Profile account to a Page. If you have Profile account for your organization and you want to use a Page instead, you have to copy your information to the page. Friends cannot be converted to fans. Options are:
    • Ask friends to like the Page by sending them a message from the profile account. 
    • Tell friends by using a status update.
    • Recommend through the Page “Tell your fans” option. You cannot customized the message explaining why you're asking them to do it.
    • After copying information from the Profile account to the Page, l decide whether to delete the account or leave it. Instead of deleting it, you can set the privacy settings to limit it from being found. Two different presences on Facebook can be confusing to potential fans and friends. Facebook's friend recommendation feature will continue to suggest to friends of friends to your  abandoned Profile account.


Fan Pages vs. Regular Profiles

I don't have a website for my organization. What is a Facebook Page?

Why Your Company Should Have a Facebook Page (Not a Profile) Tags: