Thursday, August 22, 2013

Facebook Opens Embedded Posts for Everyone

Some of you are interested in using Facebook as one of your primary outreach tools, or you may see a post on a page that you want to share with a blog or your website.  Today Facebook announced it had turned on Embedded Posts for everyone.  This is for those of you who maintain a page and related ONLY to posts that you set as public.

When you have a post that you want to embed onto a page, you now have a menu option on the post drop down (upper right hand, small arrow) that includes a new item of "embed"
embed menu in facebook drop down post box

When you select Embed Post, a pop up box will give you the code and the sample of how the embedded post will look like
pop up box of sample of how an embedded facebook post looks like

You can now copy and past the code that you are given and use that in your Blog (switch to HTML edit) or other spaces where you can paste code into your programming.  

For those of you who spend quality time on your posts inside of FB and want to encourage wider use of that effort, embedded posts may be a good option for you.  They also allow you to share other posts from pages that you might want to blog about or comment on as well.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Using Flick for Community Engagement and Audience Building

Photo of SAWS Aquifer Storage & Recovery cascade aerationO.C. Fisher ReservoirIMG_0214O.C.Fisher_boatramp_2009IMG_0194lake_o.c._fisher_drought-1034-media
Skinny-LonghornTX Drought_7099Lake_Colorado_City_drought-_MG_1050Lake O.C. Fisher_drought-_MG_0986SAM_5253Lk Travis_Drght_0405
What does your Texas drought look like?, a group on Flickr.

Getting users involved in your outreach might involve the use of a photo campaign.  I'm a fan of these  awareness campaigns because people take some great photos and letting others become part of the process of outreach can lead to some lasting relationships.  I am going to use a What does your Texas drought look like? joint venture by Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Water Development Board, and the Texas Department of Agriculture to highlight the utility of using user generated photo's to create community engagement.
 "TWDB Executive Administrator Melanie Callahan. “It affects water supplies for cities and agriculture alike, and can devastate economies and natural resources. This photo campaign is a way for Texans to document how drought affects them personally. Showing the results of water shortages and ways to conserve are equally important parts of this story.” (Texas Dept. of Agriculture - news release  
Why Flickr?  Flickr does give users the ability to add metadata to their uploads which is a feature that all photographers (amateur and professional alike) should take advantage of and it has some nice visual impacts when photo's are shared.  In addition, these photo's can be shared to other social networks (like Pinterest) which increases the reach of the campaign.  If you run the campaign strictly inside of Facebook, Pinterest, or other log-on social sites,  you are limited to users who must have an account to participate.  Granted, you do have to create an account to upload to Flickr, but after that, the social interaction is up to you.

Back to this effort!  Upon visiting the Texas Drought Flickr site one of the most important aspect is that they have posted the rules!  Yes, the rules.  All campaigns involving public input should have clearly stated rules about the use of the photos once in the campaign.  This site covers copyright use and sharability.  Flickr has built in metadata tools to capture the user information into the photo, which is invaluable since you should tell all users up-front what will happen with the images.  Well done group!

Photo campaigns can take a little time upfront to set up, but in the long run they enable you to see your topic through the eyes of others, as well as share and recognize individuals for their contributions.  You can recognize them well after the initial campaign by using their photos (in the extent you advertised in the terms) with attribution in other postings or feeds.

Photo campaigns can take a while to mature, you have to keep advertising for people to contribute and make sure to stream or share photos on your websites to encourage others to participate.  We will check back on this one in the future to see how it went.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Twitter and SMS - Ways to Remove Barriers to Adoption of Social Media

Most people in outreach and education talk about the importance of understanding and removing barriers that prohibit people from getting to the information they want or keep people from participation.  Critical factors in most program planning involve identifying those barriers and overcoming them.  As social media use continues to grow, and platforms for networking come online, its easy to forgo accessing information or networking simply because you don't want to have to set up yet another account.  I have been remiss in mentioning one of my favorite reasons to adopt Twitter.  Twitter offers ways for people to follow your channels without ever having to have a Twitter account.  I know I talk about it, but I guess I didn't ever blog about it.

Twitter Fast Follow is a way to harness the value of texting for message delivery. When we strategize about which social platform to spend time building or ways to reach clients, we usually ask the simple question of how people are going to connect with what we have to offer?  Will it be an open website?  Will it be a social network?  When we look specifically at Twitter, there are several reasons to choose this platform and multiple ways to receive information put Twitter on top of other social networks.  Being able to receive information on a Smart/Mobile device can be the difference between which social networks you choose.  Twitter allows you to receive any or all of your Twitter information through SMS text by selecting that option inside your Twitter account.  You can change any user to be sent to your mobile device.  This is a great option if you have some users who you want to receive instantaneous information from without having to launch your Twitter app.

Twitter takes that one step farther (and a marketer would add "one step bolder") by enabling anyone to follow a Twitter user without having to have a Twitter account.  This is the perfect scenario if you have a Twitter channel that you want to promote to your users without ever having to ask them to join in your Twitter network.  Best yet, it's simple!  In your text messaging, simply type 40404 (Twitter short code) as the phone number/contact name and in the message area follow @[twitteruser].  For example, to follow the eXtension Initiative you would send a text to 40404 with the message "follow @BeGrowCreate"  (no parenthesis of course).  You get a confirmation message and Tweets from @BeGrowCreate will show up in  your text message inbox.

This small convenience becomes a great selling point on using Twitter for your work.  You can give your clients simple instructions on following your Twitter channel through their text messaging programs.  This can also help you remember to craft your messages to be timely and meaningful.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Help! My Users Are Not Seeing My Post in the Facebook News Feed

Pages feed on the left hand side of your FB news feedAre you wondering why your Facebook Pages are not being seen in the general news feed? Facebook has been changing it's algorithm again since September of 2012 that dictates what and how your Pages show up in the general news feed. Why (which really means WHAT! Not AGAIN)? It looks like there is an effort to meet both the business needs of Facebook and also the user needs. Facebook tries to deliver the information in your news feed that is most important to you. Therefore, supposedly, what you see in your news feed is Pages and people that you interact with most. That kind of makes sense.

Your news feed can get cluttered fast by the sheer volume of posts. Therefore, if you were to create an automated management of your news feed, you most likely would see things that are your favorites. The somewhat annoying thing is that Facebook manages that for you in ways that you may not want.

There are a few things that you can do (or ways to promote to your followers) that will insure that your pages are seen in the news feed. If what matters is interaction, your strategy should lean towards promoting more interaction on your posts that you put on your Pages. It's not enough for people to read them, what ACTION did they take as a result? Did they "like" it? Did they "share" it. More action on your posts (and therefore your Page) means a higher probability that your Page will show up in the general news feed of your followers. A helpful article from the Kansas City Business Journal - by Kate McKinney and Kiran Ross "Maximize Your Facebook Content to Stay in News Feeds" has some great tips on ways to increase the probability that your Pages show up for your followers.

Some ways to help your posts (and to help others that you follow) is to do some simple things:
  • Like your updates as "you" - not the page 
  • Take a good look at your posts - what do people like? 
  • Be visual, people tend to like and share more with visual posts (add a picture for goodness sake!) 
  • ASK your followers to SHARE and LIKE. 
(If you are wondering what you yourself are currently missing, look at the left hand column in YOUR news feed and click the "Pages" flag to see what posts the posts are from the Pages you are subscribed to).
Adopting an action oriented methodology isn't surprising, as the sheer volume of information grows, your strategy will need to grow with it.  Taking a good look at your insights (found on the Pages you admin) which will help you post better updates, post at better times for your clients, and increase the probability that your Pages will be seen in your users news feeds.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Think! Mobile First - Luke Wroblewski to Present Free Webinar June 25, 2012

Mark your calendars, eXtension Learn is hosting a free webinar by Luke Wroblewski on the benefits of thinking about content delivery from the aspect of the growing trend 4/1 of mobile device access.  I blogged about seeing Luke last month at NETC2012 and was really impressed by not just his insights into trends, but about the value of thinking about the mobile user and how their needs might differ from a desktop user, leading to some new thinking about content deliver. 

I recommend this webinar to anyone regardless of if you ever touch or design websites.  Its really not about the code, or the visual design, its about trends and users.  If you are involved with outreach or delivery of information or want to know about your own marketing presence on the web, this webinar is for you. 

Sign in free on Monday, June 25th at 2:00 EST (1:00 pm CST) at eXtension Learn event:  Login as Guest, no registration required.  The event will also be recorded, so you can return to that address after the live event to listen to the recording. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pinterest Made Me Do It- Subversive Learning

I am warning you ahead of time that this post will deviate slightly from past blogs.  Your first clue might have been that there is a picture of food here.  What does that have to do with enhancing Cooperative Extension?  Learning something new?  I think it demonstrates that I have a weak mind, or that subversive learning can really exist using new technologies. 

Let me begin by saying learning about Pinterest has made me, well, hungry.  Sure, hungry for knowledge, but literally, it's made me HUNGRY!  There are so many appetizing pictures of food that I could eat (and lots that I should [nt] eat) that I've had to stop looking at it anywhere near mealtime.  I've been a food gawker for a long time, as a matter of fact, I subscribe to foodie magazines which pile up on my desk and from which I've cooked maybe 3 times from.  I pretend that I'm going to do things that I never do.  A few weeks ago I was really hungry, but when I thought about what I wanted to eat, images from FamiliesFoodFitness  and Food Network Magazine , plus a plethora of gardening pins that included in season tomatoes kept merging in my mind!  All those pictures of healthy food, and of easy to make food, and all the images of in-season-good-for-you-food kept popping up.  So I jumped off, I combined a few recipes - making sure to include super foods and seasonal veggies as suggested - to make something new. 

I had had many opportunities to try this before, but I think all the pictures, and the information,and the comments and advice made me want to give it a shot.  It was easier to create with all the information from the FFFCoP floating through my head.  I combed my Pin boards for similar recipes, looking for ingredients that people rated well together.  Finally, I concocted a combination that people actually asked the recipe for. 

This made me think about subversive learning.  All those images floating by were nice to look at, but many of them also were tactical, and had comments or advice.  Did all those images had a small influence on my choices about foods to choose for health reasons? Seeing all those seasonal vegetables and fruits coincided with the bins at the grocery store.  All together, they taught me things that I knew but never put into action. 

I'm sure this might be an isolated example about how we can use things like Pinterest (which seem more game oriented than learning oriented) to influence people in new ways, but I think there is potential to think about strategy and tactics with some of these tools that can do more than show pretty pictures.  With a focus, they can tell a story and potentially create a learning experience. 

Recipe: Summer Bean Celebration

2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can white beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cans white or yellow corn (drained)
3-8 avacado's (you choose!)
4 roma tomatoes
2 tbs fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
pince of salt
1 can Hernandez Green tomatillo sauce (or homemade salsa)

Drain and rinse beans.  Dice tomatoes, dice avocado's.  Juice lemons.  Combine corn and beans in a bowl.  Add in Hernandez sauce.  Mix.  Chop cilantro to taste.  Fold in avacado and salt.  Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.  8 servings. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Building Mobile First

Yesterday at the NETC2012 lunch, the keynote speaker was Luke Wroblewski (@lukew) who gave a great talk on webpages and compelling reasons to consider developing first for mobile and second for desktop (from his book Mobile First).  Access from mobile devices is outpacing access from desktop, and many users have their first interactions with your web presence via a mobile device.  I knew this, but as usual, I didn't put that into action beyond "knowing" the statistics.  I am used to developing websites, and than opening my smartphone and logging on to see how it looks on mobile.  However, realistically, as Luke pointed out, most mobile users are going to be looking at your website for potentially different information than what they would if they were at the desktop.  Different in that on a mobile device, you may be looking for specific blasts of information and not the whole "story" of the agency/organization/site.  

I thought his point was important.  If sites are being accessed more through mobile than through a desktop, doesn't that change the design considerations for both?  Or at least compel one to think about designing first for mobile?  For me the answer is yes.  I look at the websites that I have some design control in and ask myself some of the things Luke suggested.  

  1. What would a mobile user be looking for?
  2. What is the value of a "mini" representation of my websites versus  time and consideration on a mobile version?
Venn it...sorry for the rotation!
 I have usually thought about site design in terms of visual pleasure and functionality.  Is it possible to achieve both on mobile?  And if so, how?  Luke gave some advice on using thinks like Venn  diagrams to distinguish what mobile users and desktop users might have in common and in contrast.  How does your mobile presentation support your users?  

Something to think about.