Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Go Web Retro! - The WaybackMachine

The WWW is getting along in years.  Remember those first days of Web 1.0 when we rushed to create our first home pages?  Times change, how they change.  It's hard to even remember our first efforts.  Enter The Wayback Machine.  This Internet Archive resource has been crawling the web since 1996 and archiving snapshots of websites over time.  It's both fascinating, and at time frightful!  What we didn't know back then!  Talk about poor programming languages, misplaced elements, poor design.  Oh wait, maybe that even applies today. 

Some noticable exclusions on Wayback are Facebook and Twitter due to their exclusion from robot crawling.  Understandable, but that would have been fun to look at.  Others are on there, including MySpace.   If you are looking for sometime fun to do, check out the Wayback Machine.  I figured I would try a few of my institutional sites, as well as popular sites.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Some Guidelines for Use of Pinterest in Communities of Practice

The culmination of this Pinterest experiment was to come up with some ways to utilize Pinterest to assist in the overall mission of Cooperative Extension which is to spread research based information and applications.  Therefore, while Pinterest might have a variety of uses in business, marketing, social networks, ect..., the focus of this venue is going to be on its use to enhance the public knowledge base.  Here are some methods and practices that might enhance the reach of CES materials through Pinterest.

  1. Create a Group Account, OR Create Collaborative Pin Boards - one option for CoPs is to create a group account (like some CoPs do in Twitter) by using your group Twitter account to log in.  In this way, you have a generic user (your CoP) with distinctive boards.  Another option would be for CoP members to collaborate on a board together.  
    1. An group account allows you to create very distinctive boards as a single user.  For example, the Blueberries CoP would be the account and the account could have boards that might closely match their content area (i.e. blueberry diseases, blueberry planting structures, blueberry recipes).  Horses might have horse breads, horse training videos, horse pasture management.  If you go the group board route, create boards and invite CoP members to contribute to them. Once a CoP member joins a board, that board is seen in their boards and to their followers. This method is more like "branding" a CoP.  Followers are those that follow the group user. An live example of this is Better Homes and Gardens which is the branded account with boards that have some organization to them topically
    2. Collaborating on a board, no group account.  In this method, a CoP member has a board that they created that they invite others to participate in.  This approach is a little more individualistic because there is no group "home" where the boards are arranged on purpose.  In this method, no person has to be responsible for a group account home. 
  2. Pin CES Materials to Your Boards  -  what better way to share science-based information than to pin your projects, fact sheets, website topics to a board?  Don't just pin your departmental website, pin SPECIFIC topic information.    Think about the ways people ask for your information "do you know how to build a bluebird house?"  Don't just pin a random page of birdhouses, create a Birdhouse board and pin each article/instruction as it's own pin.  
  3. Pin form other CES resources.  When you have a topic, look around for other Land Grant resources that can be used on your boards.  
  4. Visit front page every few days and look at the new articles and see if any fit your boards.  Do the same with your institutional websites, as well as partner agency and organizations.  
  5. Curate Pins -  when you see a Pin you think would fit your board, make sure to "click-through" to find the original source of the Pin.  Look at the Pin to see the source and investigate.  It may take you 3 users, and multiple click-throughs, to land on the original source, but it's worth it.  
  6. Source you Pins.  Give credit to your resource in the description AND in the comments (so that it stays with the Pin).  A description can be changed, but the comments will show up with the Pin in order. You are the first to Pin it, source it as the first comment. (see picture)
  7. Give a good description of the resource you are Pinning, maybe with some guidance on the pin.  For example, instead of simply "hog trap" put "instructions on constructing a hog trap from wire and re-bar from the Arkansas Cooperative Extension" 
  8. Advertise you boards as you would other social media outreach.
  9. Interact with comments when needed.  Pay attention to any comments people leave that need a follow up.
Have some other tips for CES?  Let's hear em'

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pinterest Continues to Grow

Big developments this week in Pinterest around copyright infringement and user TOS (terms of service).  Pinterest is allowing user to add code to their pages to "disallow" pinning of their pictures but they have yet to alter their TOS which seem to give away all rights straight to Pinterest.  Discussions around the web are interesting on both subjects.  On many of the articles I read, the best discussion is in the comments section where people are discussing the confusion over copyright law, if the TOS would hold up in court (can Pinterest by its TOS allow people to give your copyright away) ect..  It's a pretty good read.  Here's a few I found interesting (noting of course that the people who left comments are not lawyers either):

Pinterest continues to grow, and Ignite Social Media released the top 10 Brands on Pinterest article today.  The list isn't surprising, and it adds to the discussion about the potential pressure for Pinterest to modify its TOS.  Many of the top 10 brands do own the rights to their images and it's not hard to imagine in a court case the law would land on their side about who owns the rights to the images.  Many of those brands have more lawyers and money than a start-up would have in hand.   I could absolutely be wrong about that, I don't have a law degree and there seems to be lots of discussion around if Pinterest can put the blame on the users. 

Other companies have faced similar considerations to change their TOS and their strategies how they use pictures.  Most of the TOS are ambiguous at best, trying to offload any potential infringement to the user.  Copyright law is complicated and I'm sure it didn't anticipate the Internet.  I think it does still create a very good reason to use "best practices" no matter if you are FBing, Pinning, ect... Some of those practices include:
  1. Finding the actual source of an image.  Follow the photo links and read the article.  In many cases, the photo's are from other sources.  Use the original source.  Take the time to track it.
  2. Acknowledge the source in the description (caption) of Pinterest.  
  3. Use material you know the copyright status of (tricky!  not many people are telling you the copyright anywhere on the page) 
  4. Annotate your own photo's with a caption/watermark.  It doesn't mean a person can't edit them in a photo editor, but at you did put into practice a protection.  
I'm going to keep Pinning on Pinterest, I'm not going to upload any original content, the TOS is too far reaching.  However, I feel like with the popularity someone will realize the need to change the TOS and the tool to protect original sources better.   Other sites (such as Tumblr) have even less (or no) protection for content, but none-the-less, the problems are not unique to Pinterest on this issue.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Free Webinar on eXtension Learn: Connecting the Physical World and the Virtual World with QR Codes - Feb 21, 2012

eXtension Learn: Connecting the Physical World and the Virtual World with QR Codes - Feb 21, 2012

Quick Response Codes allow for the connection between the physical and virtual world. Participants will understand the hardware software needed for creating and reading QR codes. Ideas will be provided on how to extend extension with QR Codes.


Event Location

Monday, February 20, 2012

What is the Utility of Facebook or Twitter if I Have Few Clients On-line?

This is a follow-up answer to a question from my recent symposium that I felt like was a great question to answer online because it's relevant to many people.  The question:
I do not have many twitter/facebook followers within our district, but I did see a benefit in connecting with other organizations. With that in mind is Facebook/Twitter worth is it? or  would one work and not the other?
I think this is a great question.  As with any communication endevor (I don't separate my social media outreach from any other communication outreach I do, it's all part of the same slice of time) its worth it to ask what the return value of your time investment is going to be.  Will it net you any more returns than your efforts would yield by adding that time to something you already do well?? 

I like to make my FB and Twitter efforts do double (or triple duty).  There are some of my projects that have one channel, and not the other.  If a SM effort can't enhance my existing effort then I don't use it.  Facebook is great for expanding your brand value, your peer networking, and having new clients find you.  Before you build a page, the key is to ask yourself what is a reason people would have for "liking" your page enough so that they wanted it in their news feed.  Is your information "news worthy?"  Facebook is about relationships.  Making a FB page is about overall brand, and it's about your individual value to a person.  Thus, if you are part of an organization, is it better to send someone to your parent organization page or do you have something to enhance that brand by having a secondary page? If the answer is no - right now it's better to be part of the big brand, instead what I might do is go and "like" other people or organization pages as an individual user and glean information from those pages to pass along to my clients (through email, or through a newsletter, or Twitter ect..).  I use it to gather timely information that I read, assess, and pass along as I see that it fits into my programs.  I learn to be a curator of information.  At some point, I might decide that I can currate information well enough I want to be the "voice" on a new FB page of information.  At that point, I am making use of the information so much for myself that I think there's a value in becoming an information channel.  That builds credibility and brings potential new clients.  As long as the first step is enhancing my program, I'm happy if I don't make it to the other step.  If I don't have enough time to be a voice, I'd dedicate myself to being a listener.

Twitter is another issue.  I use Twitter feeds to enhance my existing website (and blog), and to find new information that I add to my newsletters, email, other outlets.  Enhancing my existing website with a Twitter feed is a big use to me because our client is likely to go to our webpage and having a Twitter feed lets me share timely information quickly. Our Institute can Tweet out information on everything because we use keywords to separate it to clients.  For an otherwise static page, the Twitter feed communicated "yes, we have living people in our organization".   Thus, we adopted Twitter because it added to our existing communication in a capacity that didn't exist before.  Twitter helped expose us to new stories and information.  The trade off is that someone has to watch the Twitter feed sometime during the week and curate it usefully.  Twitter is a good way to promote best practices, events, tidbits of information because it uses keywords so heavily.  Learn to add keywords to your Tweets, and your reach will go beyond your efforts.  It can enhance your brand value, but you have to work a lot harder at it in Twitter because you don't have a "homepage" like you do in Facebook to shout out all your glorious ties and connections.  I feel that in Twitter, your value is based on the information you give, how well you write or re-tweet because you are conscience of people's time.  It's not easily apparent how credible a source of information you are, so people tend to look at your tweets to assess if they should follow you or not. 

My bottom line for any of these tools is if it's going to make me able to serve my client better.  If using them leads me to better information, which in turn creates more things to pass along to my client (even in old fashioned email), then the time is well spent.  For the most part, on projects, the FB and Twitter pages enabled me to find more connections to people/information that could help my clients.  Using Google search, or news readers did not yield me as much incoming information as having a personal FB page and "liking" other pages/organizations.  Twitter created my outgoing voice that has let us broadcast information to a new set of clients.  I can fill up a newsletter in no time now because I have so much information that I gather from these sources.  Therefore, my clients "indirectly" were online with me, they just didn't know it.  They didn't have to be the one to sign up for accounts, they are the beneficiary my entry into those areas. If I had to choose a starting point, I would probably get a Twitter account and start listening, then I'd use my personal FB account to start "liking" pages.  When you fill a newsletter for the first time with the information you curated through your new networks, you'll get a feel for if you could be a "broadcaster" and which type suits you better. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Job - Explained as a Meme

The recent array of collages showing in 6 pictures someones job/passion are really good.  I'm enjoying seeing all of them come across the Internet. Maybe someone will make a site to post them on!  Well, that got me to thinking about them, and I decided to do one about my job!  Then I realized that my job title doesn't really even explain my job enough to make a collage!  When I have to explain my job, I have to keep adding "you know like a know know like an XYZ"  and on and on.  Really, I'm not even sure what I do.

I created this collage to explain it for fun.  Well, not really because I think I'm going to have to use this on the back of my business card from now on.  Enjoy
Social Media Strategist Explained - AmyEHays

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some Pinterest Best Practices Reading

Not only are we looking at Pinterest for how useful it is for outreach, but in the past few weeks there have been some good articles on effectively using Pinterest and being a "good" pinner.  Of course, it's worth it to find your own use of this tool as there are some best practices, but not everything will be a good fit for everyone.  Here's some reading for you to look at and think about

Passed along from Beth Kanter -What Not to Pin on Pinterest - most notably, a listing of some of the things not to pin including tweets, and logos.

John Haydon does a good job at relating your website to Pinterest (Nine Ways to Make Your Website Optimized for Pinterest).  Good tips on optimizing your site.  What I like here is that while we are talking about optimizing for Pinterest, what he really is talking about is optimizing your website for ANY social media that would consume things from your site.  This is a great reinforcement about how your systems website designers not only need to be aware of the technical aspect of serving a site, but about the high importance of supporting quality content and external pulls.

I thought that this article on creating brand awareness with pinterest with boards that are not overly generic was a good one from FWD Thinking

Image from John Haydon Article

Monday, February 13, 2012

Symposium: Conservation Science Social Media

It's Monday, I'm teaching a one-day course on becoming a science advocate through social media.  This course is directed at faculty, researchers, agency program leaders, project manager, conservation organizations, and outreach and education specialists who work with conservation science.  The goal is to explore the ways in which science can become "excellent" online in more than traditional ways.  Included in this post are the links for the attendee's.

"This one day workshop is directed at scientists and specialists in conservation science who want to find out how social media can elevate science, research, and outreach to new levels.  Case studies, strategies, online examples and critical conversations are part of this course.  Learn how ordinary science can become an extraordinary resource for the public."


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pinterest - Moving On Up

Well, thanks to the folks at Sharaholic, they just popped up their 2012 January Referral Traffic Report  and guess who is in the number 5 spot?  Pinterest of course.  Is it a fad?  We'll have to wait and see.  However, this is probably great news for thousands of blogs!  You know, it's sometimes hard to get found by your content alone, but it's true about a picture being worth a thousand words.  Pinterest is set up help referral traffic because it makes each picture a click-able link to a source (keeping in mind that the picture may not be from the ORIGINAL source - more on that in another blog post) as well as giving homage to a source on the pin.

I've seen some interesting discussions on this across the web from people like the idea that a picture helps them get referral traffic, while others think that it enables people to "steal" or "copycat" their work or ideas.  I can see an argument for both sides.  However, do they feel the same about a Google search using "images" as the filter (which in essence pops up a giant Pin Board).  From the referral statics it might be a good argument that people are getting seen more than they normally could generate on their own for the mere reason that someone pinned an image on their site.  It's a good time to look at your analytics and see if you see a bump and to notice where people go when they get to your site.  What is your inbound traffic, how long do they stay, where do they go.

What do you think?  Is it a fad, a mere bump in the road?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Increasing Your Repins

Running into 2 weeks on Pinterest as Pinvocate (of course I just made that up thanks to my friend MPK).  I not "using" Pinterest, I'm UTILIZING it.  A significant difference.  So what nuggets of information am I learning?  I'm thinking that there are some good techniques to consider when one uses Pinterest in a "scholarly" way.
  1. Pinterest needs to have your active attention.  People are able to find your Pins and you get more followers when you yourself are active in pinning.  Which is much like Twitter.  Not surprising, but it might mean that people don't use the search as much as they use the Most Popular or drop down list.  I can't confirm this, noticed that if I do a lot of pinning in a day, I get a lot more people re-pinnig.  When I stop, few people seem to find my pins.  
  2. Populate your boards.  I noticed that people follow me, or they choose the really full boards.  I do the same thing.  When I see a board with less than 9 pins, I gauge that board as "unworthy" of a follow.  It's a credibility issue.  Do I really want to follow a board with no action?
  3. The search doesn't seem to find things as well as I'd like.  So, I think that having a decent description in important, put the key words. 
  4. People might not have figured out that they can follow your individual boards versus your whole persona. 
So here's my stats by today:
  • 10 Boards, 77 pins, 1 like 
  • Native Gardening: 20 followers
  • Infographics 20 followers
  • Water Conservation: 20 Followers
  • Cool Digital Maps: 17 followers
  • Geek Humor : 16 followers
  • Duck Harvest Survey: 15 followers
  • Good Eats for Kids (which has 1 pin): 15 followers
  • Prescribed Fire Resources: 13 followers
  • Feral Hog Control: 13 Followers
  • Why 4H (new board) : 9 followers

Monday, February 6, 2012

Finding Out How Many Times a Site Has Been Accessed - Pinterest Evaluation?

I'm sure many more advanced Pinterest users already know this, but I just found out how to see how many times a site has something pinned from it.  It's pretty easy!  You just put in your site's URL in the following

I found this out by accident, when seeing that a pin I posted has other pins from that source:

You have to manually count them, so that's not hugely efficient, but none-the-less, informative.  Perhaps this is another way to evaluate reach?

What I found more interesting was how people categorized things, or the comments they made on the pins

example of using Pinterest to source from

The downside is that it doesn't collect by CoP resource area (i.e., which returns a 404 error when you try to add it to the sourcing.

Maybe that will change.