You’ve heard our communication’s folks talk about leveraging social media to tell our story. Karen Waite gave us a good lesson in the power of social media when trying to spread rich, educational information.
On Jan. 29, Karen, a Michigan State University Extension equine specialist, used her Facebook status update to remind horse owners to be mindful of extra precautions they should take during the extreme temperature drop about to occur.
Within an hour, Karen forwarded a short, science-based article called “Watch Horses for Hypothermia When Temperatures Drop” to ANR Communications. Fifteen minutes later the article was live on the MSU Extension website.
From there, ANR Communications worked to push the information out via Facebook and Twitter. By 5 p.m. on Jan. 29, it had been shared at least 35 times by people and groups on Facebook. By 9 a.m. on Jan. 31 (right about the time the temperatures were beginning to drop), the article had been viewed 841 times. More than 630 of those views were from people who saw it on Facebook. As of Feb. 6, the article has been viewed more than 1,000 times.
One of those early views was by Rosemary Parker, a Kalamazoo Gazette reporter and MLive contributor. Rosemary used it as fodder for two articles: “Horses, Livestock May Suffer Hypothermia, Colic With This Week’s Weather Swings, MSU Expert Says” and “Wednesday’s Weather Swing in Southwest Michigan Can Be Deadly for Horses.” Though we don’t know exactly how many people saw these articles, Rosemary tells us they received “wide readership.” And we know that they were shared collectively on Facebook by nearly 800 people.
So what’s the lesson here? Timely information is important. Our MSU Extension News articles don’t have to be long or time consuming to gain a following. Timeliness is key. And when the media calls, we need to be ready to talk.
Some may argue that Facebook spreads a lot of false or misleading information. Unfortunately, that’s true. But let’s not let that stop us from using social media to educate with facts.