Beginners Guide to Social Media in Extension

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A Beginners Guide to Using Social Media in Extension

Social media: Online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.

Today, if you're not staying current with Web 2.0 technologies' impact on business, then you're just not staying current. Period. Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb

Social Media in Plain English, a video introduction from Common Craft

1. Use a newsreader


Software applications called newsreaders aggregate news feeds from multiple web sites to bring articles of interest to your desk top. That saves you time!

Learn about newsreaders:

RSS in Plain English, a video introduction to using news readers from Common Craft
Feeding Frenzy, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Beth Raney, extension
Use a newsreader,
Hint: Ignore the techie stuff.
You'll see terms like RSS, XML, and ATOM in discussions about news feeds. These terms refer to ways that news feeds are formatted. Unless you work in IT, the terms shouldn't matter much to you.

Newsreader applications:

There are many good newsreader applications. For a nearly overwhelming list, see
Web-based newsreaders are very convenient; you can read your news feeds from any computer. And, they're free.
Google Reader,, is a widely used web based news reader.
How should you choose a newsreader? Ask your news reading colleagues what newsreader they prefer and why. Or, search the web for recommendations. See results from a May 2008 survey at

2. Comment on others’ work


Commenting on others' work helps you become comfortable expressing yourself on the Web. Most people find it less intimidating to comment on other people's ideas than to start their own blog. Also, sharing your perspective on a blog post helps inform the topic being discussed. Give it a try!

Learn how to comment effectively:

How to comment like a King (or Queen) from teacher and blogger Vicki Davis

3. Share content, knowledge, ideas, and products openly


Sharing as a means to educate the public is our job! Social media tools make it easier than ever to reach the public in a variety of ways.

Sharing your content, knowledge, ideas and products with your colleagues helps you as much as or more than it helps them. You'll build relationships, enhance your professional reputation and broaden your professional network.

Viral Content Sharing Report, marketing scientist Dan Zarrella's report on how and why people spread content online.

Learn about sharing content:

Blogs in Plain English, a video introduction to blogs from Common Craft
Getting Started Blogging, 2008, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Kevin Gamble, extension :
Starting a Blog: How to blog, comment, manage your brand, a slide show from Corinne Weisgerber, Public Relations Assistant Professor, St. Edwards University
Blogs being used in Extension:
SlideShare, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Kevin Gamble, extension
Flickr, An eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Henrietta Ritchie-Holbrook, eXtension

Where to share:

eXtension: Get started with an eXtension ID at

4. Write for the web


Writing for the Web presents new challenges compared writing for print publications. Readers tend to scan when they're reading on the Web. Search engines need to find your content.

Learn how:

Developing Quality Web Content, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Craig Wood, extension
How to write for the Web, from USC Online Journalism Review
Writing Content, by Darren Rowse for ProBlogger
Writing for the Web, Research based information from usability expert Jakob Nielson
Writing for the Web Blog, resource maintained by Canadian novelist, professor and author of Writing for the Web 3.0, Crawford Kilian

5. Participate in online communities


In the physical world, Extension employees work in rural and urban centers throughout the country. We go where the people are. Shouldn't we go where the people are in the online world, too?

Learn how:

Engaging Communities on their Own Turf, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Kevin Gamble, extension
Facebook, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Ray Kimsey, NC State University
Twitter, An Easy Way to Microblog and be Social, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Anne Adrian, Auburn University
FriendFeed, You Learned to Share in Kindergarten, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by James Robinson, extension  :

Where to find online communities:

  • Find other Extension social media users and help them find you:
    • Extension Colleagues by Social Network: (protected site)
    • Extension Social Media Identities
    • Social Media in Extension

6. Use Creative Commons Licenses


Creative Commons (CC) licenses provide a way for you to easily mark your creative work with the freedoms you want it to carry. CC-licensed works such as videos, images, and recordings will enhance the content you create.

Learn about Creative Commons:

Get Creative a Flash animation summary describing the philosophy of Creative Commons
Creative Commons
Wikipedia's Creative Commons page
Includes links to tools for discovering CC-licensed content

7. Build content and products with others


As the saying two heads are better than one indicates, any product or solution developed by many will be better than if the product was built by only one of those individuals.

Learn about building content collaboratively:

Wikis in Plain English, a video intro to wikis from Common Craft
Google Docs in Plain English, a video intro to Google Docs from Common Craft
Google Presentation, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Kevin Gamble, eXtension
Google Spreadsheets, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Kevin Gamble, eXtension
Second Life, an eXtension 30-Minute session recording presented by Vishal Singh, University of Nebraska, Lincoln  :

Where to work together:

Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations and forms:
Create and manage your own wikis. Here are a few public wiki sites:
Google Sites:
Work in established wikis:
eXtension Collaborate wiki:
Extension Content
eXtension Communities of Practice:
Virtual Worlds
Second Life:
Are you already in Second Life? Visit Morrill Island: (Must have a Second Life account)

8. Learn more


Social media is evolving. Tools are being developed and refined. eXtension's Professional Development sessions offer new opportunities each month to learn about these new technologies. The sessions are also archived for later viewing.


Who is doing this?

See examples of how your peers are already using Social Media in Extension.

Commercial sites referenced in this document are suggestions only and are not intended as endorsements of a particular social media application. Additional suggestions are welcomed.

Email presenters with questions and comments:
Anne Adrian, , Associate Director, ACES/Ag IT, Auburn University
Rhonda Conlon, , Director, Extension Information Technology, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, NC State University

The poster is available: Attribution-Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0

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