Category Archives: Social Media

N:15 ‒ ANR Communication creates news in 15 seconds

In today’s fast-paced and constantly connected world of smartphones, social media and more, we have to stay competitive if we want to attract people to our material as they scroll over multiple news items a day. Michigan State University Extension is well known throughout the state in the agriculture community and among people in the older population, who are more likely to rely on traditional news delivery. But how can we make sure that we’re catching the eye of the younger generation who want information now?

Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications is working to create 15-second videos that will offer a quick-pitch delivery of relevant news. These videos could work either as an introduction, to entice viewers to watch a longer video or to read an article, or as a full explanation of a concept, such as in “How to Convert Grams of Sugar into Teaspoons.

Kraig Ehm and Katie Gervasi, who lead the project, have created a few short videos based on content they already have. They’ve found that they can film an entire recipe in 15 seconds, as they did on this video:

The possibilities are endless!

Check out the ANR N:15 YouTube Channel to see the videos created so far, and stay tuned for more to come!

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It starts with social media

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.

Beth Stuever in ANR Communications saw the update and made this simple suggestion, “This would make an excellent post on”

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.

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The face of Extension, online and off

I was pleased to learn that our first virtual conference encouraged several people to become active on Facebook for the first time. Social media is an outstanding way to deliver information to people in a new way. However, it’s important that we take a close look at how we mix our personal lives and professional lives online. “Personal” does not equal “private.” What we say as Joe or Jill Resident is interpreted by many as an official recommendation from Michigan State University.

 So how do we ensure that our personal opinions are not misconstrued as our professional views? Molly Frendo and Jillian Tremonti gave an excellent presentation during FEC10 about Social Networking Boundaries and Professionalism. I encourage you to watch it and learn from their examples. A few highlights: 

  • It is against Facebook’s terms of use (TOS) to have more than one profile. Therefore, DO NOT create one profile to communicate with close friends and family and another one to communicate with colleagues and clients. If discovered, Facebook will remove both.
  • Use your privacy settings to ensure you are not sharing your personal views with Facebook “friends” you only relate to on a professional level.
  • If you have a lot of information you want to share about programming, consider creating a Facebook fan page and concentrate on that as a place to share professional information. Phil Durst’s Young Savvy and Into Dairy page is an excellent example.

Another suggestion you may consider is to use one social media site as your “personal” site, and another for your “professional” site. For example, you may use your Facebook site for keeping in touch with family members, former classmates and friends, and a LinkedIn site for remaining connected professionally. If you’re a relative newcomer to social media, you may want to check out Intro to Social Networking and The Ins and Outs (and Ups and Downs) of Social Media. If you’re a veteran, take a gander at Advanced Social Networking.

Regardless of how you connect, if you want to use social media as a way to express your political thoughts and advocacy for a candidate or a cause, it’s a good idea to remind folks

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Using social media to guide community conversations

by Dave Ivan, Greening Michigan Institute

During Fall Extension Conference, we shared with you an exciting initiative involving Michigan State University Extension, the Land Policy Institute (LPI), the College of Communication Arts & Sciences and the state Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth, using social media to enhance conversations on regionalism, community placemaking and economic vitality. Our robust social media site, entitled, allows participants to discuss how we can make Michigan communities great while learning from other great places from across the country. With MSUE serving as the coordinator of the initiative, I encourage staff to create a profile on the site and actively contribute to the discussions. Additionally, share the site with stakeholders and others you interface with in your programming efforts. Social media can be powerful when a variety of participants are engaged. Let’s contribute to making a success.

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