Don’t Forget the Social in “Social Media”

Christy Mannering is a web developer for @UDCANR and @UDExtension.

In March 2014, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 2014 National eXtension Conference in Sacramento, California. Joining me at the conference were my colleagues Adam Thomas and Michele Walfred. University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Director, Michelle Rodgers, also made the trip out west for the week-long event. As a team we went to a variety of different panel discussions and presentations to learn more about what other Cooperative Extension units are doing around the country, to raise awareness about what Extension does, and to better help us work together to promote what our agents are working on within the community.

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The presentation I most enjoyed working on stemmed from an abstract I wrote titled “Quality Engagement Verse Quantity of Fans on Facebook and Twitter.” I feel one of the things people tend to forget when working with social media is that it should feel social. It’s not about just pushing content to people, the key to a great social media experience is to engage with your audience. Social media platforms are a free way to market yourself and your business. The key here is to remember, especially in our fields, that we are teaching. You wouldn’t walk into a lecture hall or a conference expecting to just lecture at people. You have to present your information in an engaging way so people leave with an understanding and a desire to come back.

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How do you get people to engage?

Getting an audience to engage will change depending on who you’re trying to reach and on which platform you are using to network. I will be honest, I have posted a question or a status update and could then hear the proverbial crickets. It is frustrating when that happens but the fact is that it does happen and it happens to everyone.

Experiment, test, and see what works best for your audience. Do your readers like photos, do they like to answer polls. Figure out what time of day they are online. Are they checking before work, around lunch time or after dinner? We have found with our younger crowd that posting after 9pm works well. This is subjective and it might not be the same for any one group.

Off the actual network sites another way to get people to engage is to make sure you put the link to your twitter handle or your Facebook URL in places people are looking. Add them to magnets, pens, brochures and email signatures because people genuinely do look to social media sites for information and not just your main website anymore.

Above and beyond all else, BE NEIGHBORLY

Imagine you have moved into a new neighborhood and your neighbors don’t smile or wave back at you when you try to greet them. How would this make you feel? For one it would probably make you feel pretty rotten, but even more then that, it would probably lead you to disengage. When someone new follows you on Twitter or likes your page on Facebook, give them a virtual handshake, say hello, let them know you look forward to hearing from them and sharing ideas.

By Christy Mannering (@bringmeupmusic)

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