Social Media Digital Toolkit for EFNEP Professionals

This week I will be speaking on a panel at the National EFNEP Conference to discuss social media use in EFNEP programming. Below are curated links for learning what social media is, what to use, how to use it, and even how to garner data and report it.


Expanded Social Media Strategy PPT [direct link]

Social Media Strategy Template

Facebook Guide to Creating and Managing Facebook Groups

One Post Five Ways

Other Ohio State University Extension Social Media Resources

CDC Health Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit

CDC Guide to Writing for Social Media

Other CDC Social Media Tools & Resources

JOE Article: Collaborating with Your Clients Using Social Media & Mobile Applications

Social Media Evaluation Resources


If you’re in need of the basics, I recommend Mashable’s Beginner Guides to Facebook, Twitter, the Hashtag, Pinterest, and Instagram. Remember, you don’t need to be in every social media space. Only have a presence where it makes sense; be where your participants and audience are. If they don’t use Twitter, than you shouldn’t either.

Social Media Evaluation Resources

I recently presented a professional development webinar for the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences with Sarah Baughman (eXtension) on social media evaluation and reporting. Here is the slide deck for those interested:

Helpful links and resources for social media evaluation:

Export Data

Evaluation Plan & Research Protocol:



OSUE Ed Tech Blog: (subscribe to posts as we update and post to the blog)

Beth Kanter –

Social Media Examiner –



Sprout Social (All)sprout social

TweetReach (Twitter)

Hootsuite (Twitter)

Tailwind (Pinterest)

Canva (to create graphics & infographics)

Thanks to Sarah Baughman (eXtension) for help in compiling this list!

Social Media Evaluation and IRB: Resources

I have had many requests for information and resources regarding IRB and evaluation documents for social media evaluation – including evaluation for campaigns or for end of the year reporting. Below are items you may find helpful. Please use, edit, share, etc. as needed:

BTK Research Protocol (IRB Doc)

Back to the Kitchen Evaluation Plan  (For outlining a specific evaluation plan for social media campaigns)

Reporting Your Good [Tech] Work: Facebook  (OSUE Ed Tech Blog)

CFAES Social Media Guidelines

How to Fix Our Obsession with “Busy”

Photo Credit: John Schultze

Photo Credit: John Schultze

“When did we decide that working 80 hours a week was acceptable? When did we decide that answering a work e-mail at midnight meant you were dedicated?”

This sentence was muttered nearly three years ago to me by a friend and colleague who also happens to serve in an Extension administrative role. It’s been three years, and I feel as though our epidemic of “busyness” has gotten worse in Extension. There is so much talk of “change” this year during our Centennial celebrations. States are planning for the future. But we’re focusing on the wrong things. Yes, future clientele needs are important. But what about the internal issues that haven’t been addressed?

An organization that is archaically-structured and governed currently will never effectively meet the needs of a future population.

One of these main internal issues we need to address is our obsession with and devotion to busyness. This 4-letter-word is something I’ve been paying a lot of attention to lately, because it’s personal. I am a wife and mother of two kids, ages 10 and 6. Both of which are involved in 4-H, Rec-league and YMCA sports (don’t even get me started on “Select Sports” – that’s an entirely different conversation). My husband is currently finishing up an additional college degree and is feverishly job searching. In a backwards way, this means that I am currently scheduling my work around his school schedule. My kids are old enough that I can actually enjoy my own hobbies now, which due to my tendency to getting bored easily, are always changing. My hobby of the moment = running. I happen to also like my friends and still want to spend time with them. And I have 3 separate appointments in Extension. Let me type that again – 3 Separate Appointments. Enough said. I have a lot going on, but I manage to juggle it all most days, thanks to the awesomeness of my Google Calendar. It’s the days when one of the balls falls to the ground that get to me. And almost always, that ball is labeled “work”, which is my choice, but I still feel incredibly guilty. Because I’ve been conditioned to feel that way.

When it Hit Me. The first time I realized Extension had a problem with busyness was the day I participated in a panel discussion six years ago during an Ohio State graduate class full of Agricultural Education students. They were seniors about to graduate. We were the new and seasoned Extension professionals and Ag teachers who could offer them some advice. One question posed to us by a student: “What advice do you have to juggle everything? How can I still have time to work and do the things I want to do?” We went down the row of “workers” and responded one-by-one. I only remember my advice and the advice a colleague of mine gave, whom I looked up to as an informal mentor at the time. My advice = keep a very, very detailed calendar. Carve out personal time. Friend time. Family time. At the beginning of every month. Then schedule everything else around that. I’ll admit this wasn’t perfect advice, but I was only a couple months into my career in Extension at this point. Then my mentor stood up – purposefully, as if to say: “You better listen to this!” – and nearly chided the student for asking such a question:

“Let me ask you this – how successful do you want to be? If you want to get ahead, you better be willing to give up your personal life. Work needs to become more important than your friends.”

Her words left a bitter taste in my mouth that day and have stayed with me ever since. In a way, this bitterness made me much more mindful about the choices I make while juggling all those balls in the air. It’s part of a technique Arianna Huffington refers to as the “third metric” in  “Thrive: the third metric to redefining success and creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder”. Guy Kawasaki does a wonderful job summarizing Huffington’s book in his “Let’s Stop the Glorification of Busy” post.

Other examples of busyness I’ve witnessed in Extension:

– people who have left the organization because they want their “personal time” back

– colleagues who don’t walk the talk when they encourage others to say “no” to new commitments

– being told that you have no choice but to accept an invitation to “participate” on yet another committee assignment, or having someone ask you – “how can you say ‘no’ to that opportunity?”

– feeling as though you have to be at every “important” event or meeting for people to think you take your work seriously

– traditionally-minded co-workers who think anyone who works outside of office hours is overworking themselves – thus they overwork themselves to keep up with (or stay ahead) of you

– having to schedule a meeting 4 months out with colleagues in order to “find time” to meet

And I think the ultimate example of knowing that we’re too obsessed with “busy”: feeling guilty if you tell someone that you have nothing on your calendar more than one day during a five day span. After I had this feeling more than once, I knew we had a problem.

If we’re going to begin planning to meet the needs of the population in 100 years – we had better come up with some solutions to fix our internal issues beforehand. Here are some thoughts:


What if leaders posted pics of their family outings? Would you be more inclined to spend more time with your family?

What if leaders posted pics of their family outings? Would you be more inclined to spend more time with your family?

How we can fix our obsession with “busyness”:

  1. New Leadership Philosophies This one can be simple. Less is more. Leaders shouldn’t only reward those who are busiest. Provide incentives for those whochoose to excel in hobbies outside of Extension – or who take all of their vacation time every year *gasp*. Leaders should not project an image of working 24/7 – they should project an image of what they want to see reflected in the organization. We need more leaders with personal blogs who talk about how they make free time a priority; who also Tweet about their training for marathons, ask everyone in the organization what book they should read next for pleasure, and post images of their kids taking a hike with them at the local nature preserve.
  2. Get More Involved Because we still operate as a hierarchy within Extension, even though our leaders may project an anti-busy philosophy, issues could (and would) still exist at the regional or county levels. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard one thing from the Director of Extension, and then another from several “county directors” who have other plans. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest inhibitors we have to progress in Extension. Until our organizational structure changes, leaders will need to get more involved. They will need to take the initiative to work past those in management positions and work with staff directly to ensure this new philosophy is communicated, promoted, and supported.
  3. Promote Mindfulness We have been preaching “wellness” here at Ohio State for a while and yet a disconnect still exists between what is being said and what employees are actually doing. We are still using “I’m too busy for ______.” as an excuse. Having participated in a Mindfulness course, I can attest to how practicing simple moments of mindfulness changes how you choose to spend your time. Much simpler than meditation, Mindfulness is an easy way to choose to just be present in each moment. To actually pull yourself away from a situation and look at what is happening around you. We need much more of this in Extension. If leaders promoted this practice, it may change our adoration of “busy”, because people could begin to see with eyes wide open how it’s negatively effecting our work culture, as well as our lives. You can read more on Mindfulness here and watch Dr. Maryanna Klatt’s (Ohio State) TEDxColumbus talk about her Mindfulness research here.

What other opinions do you have about our obsession with “busyness”?  How can we fix it?

Photo Credit: Jon Fife

Photo Credit: Jon Fife

On Collaboration…


Last week I attended and presented at the National eXtension Conference in Sacramento. Always a great conference, it’s the Extension Ed Tech Conference without calling itself the Extension Ed Tech conference. The first time I attended in 2012, I immediately regretted not making plans to stay longer. This year I didn’t make that same mistake! I recently blogged about the conference highlights and themes on our Ed Tech blog, but I wanted to highlight the themes of collaboration and the Google “conundrum” (as some in Extension have called it) that were both brought up frequently during the week.

Collaboration vs. Cooperation

I’ve spent the last three or so years believing that we were terrible at collaboration in Extension. Whether organizational culture, individualistic mindsets, or power struggles had anything to do with it, I’ve witnessed Educators stifle Program Assistants out of intimidation, program staff strategically kill creative ideas because they didn’t agree with their own, and colleagues take personal offense to curriculum materials they created not being included in program updates. It may be the Millennial in me, but teamwork drives a lot of what I do. Why wouldn’t people be interested in collaborating with one another for the common good of the organization? Even if it meant their idea didn’t win out because someone had a better one, or that a Program Assistant got to plan 4-H Camp because he had more skills to do so? But I learned this week that we’re actually pretty good at collaboration… I just didn’t understand what the term really meant.

“In networks, cooperation trumps collaboration. Collaboration happens around some kind of plan or structure, while cooperation presumes the freedom of individuals to join and participate. Cooperation is a driver of creativity. Stephen Downes commented here on the differences:

collaboration means ‘working together’. That’s why you see it in market economies. markets are based on quantity and mass.

cooperation means ’sharing’. That’s why you see it in networks. In networks, the nature of the connection is important; it is not simply about quantity and mass …

You and I are in a network – but we do not collaborate (we do not align ourselves to the same goal, subscribe to the same vision statement, etc), we *cooperate*”

– Harold Jarche

Harold Jarche, one of the keynote speakers at NeXC spoke at length about the differences between collaboration and cooperation. You can read his full blog post about how cooperation trumps collaboration in networks here. So, we’re great at collaboration because we tend to kill each other’s ideas because we’re forced to work together toward the same goal.

Cooperation in Extensioncooperation

So here are my 3 ideas for how we can become more cooperative in “Cooperative” Extension:

  1. Network and cooperate with Extension colleagues outside of our state more often. Organizational cultures and hierarchies do not change overnight. We may be better served to cooperate with those outside of our state organization simply because it may be easier.
  2. Share, share, share. Get over yourself and do it already. We do a decent job of sharing things we’ve created. As long as we’re the ones giving a presentation about it. And another state purchases it from us. And gives us full credit. And… Well, you get the point. Let’s be honest, we’re terrible at sharing. Not only should we freely share (and allow EDITING) of things we’ve created, we need to also share what we’re learning and *gasp* things we consider to be our “secrets to success”.  Case in point: Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment”. I’ve been sharing my “Back to the Kitchen” social media campaign materials freely, and I have to tell you people are floored that I send them Word and Publisher documents rather than un-editable PDFs. It’s a great feeling to say to them, “Yes! You can have it… really! Now go and do great things with it!”
  3. Encourage people to pilot test their program ideas, etc. as mini pilot projects. We presented a session at NeXC on our Ed Tech project at Ohio State and spoke about the importance of framing this as a “pilot” project so that we were allowed more freedom to figure some things out as we went along during our first year. In academia, change happens slowly.  An innovative person who is itching to cooperate and/or collaborate with others to move their ideas forward is going to be pretty darn frustrated with slow change. If more Extension leaders were willing to invest in many small pilot projects, ideas could potentially blossom into innovative solutions… and creativity could flourish. Dave Gray used this concept to illustrate how Amazon has managed to stay ahead of the competition. According to him, we create “idea killing funnels” all too often when collaborating on a team. Instead, ideas and solutions should arise out of making things.

dave gray quote

This doesn’t mean that I think we should jump into cooperation with both feet. I do have reservations about promoting a process that could encourage selfishness over the common good for an organization. So… what are your thoughts?


Extension’s Love/Hate Relationship with Mobile Apps

“We should develop an app!” 

How many times have you heard this (or shouted it yourself) when working on a project? After this “aha” moment, when you’re giddy with excitement, the dim reality often hits once you mention it to someone else:

“No way, they’re too expensive!”

“But aren’t there already enough apps out there?”

“Shouldn’t be just recommend good apps to people?”

“We would never be able to produce something people would want to use.”

“A mobile app? We’ll talk about that later.”

While there definitely are legitimate reasons why an app isn’t the answer to your prayers, there are also voids in the mobile learning world and real needs Extension produced apps could fill. 4-H-related apps are in short supply for example, especially project-specific apps. So why do we have this love/hate relationship with mobile app development? I think the answer comes from our knee-jerk reactions mentioned above. Instead of focusing on if we should or shouldn’t develop an app, I think the conversation needs to be re-framed in the sense of what do our clients need that we aren’t offering them? Unless your client is a gamer or needs a task streamlined, an app isn’t going to work anyway. But if we keep responding to app requests by saying “we can’t do that”, where does the conversation go? It usually stops dead in its tracks and thus a great idea gets shelved.

Many times, a responsive website is all that is needed. Not a mobile app, not a mobile website… but a responsive website:

There are many great Extension produced apps in existence, which supports the point that we can indeed create good apps if the need exists and there is support to develop them. Here are a few examples:

– University of Illinois’ “Catch the Carrot” game

– New Mexico State University’s “Eat-And-Move-O-Matic” game

– University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s “Beef Anatomy” app– NMSU’s apps for professional development use


So how do we get past this love/hate relationship and move on to making some decisions about where mobile apps fit into our work? Here’s what needs to happen:

  1. We must change how we question what our clients need in a mobile environment. Forget asking “do we need an app?” We need to first ask “What are our clients’ needs when on the go? /  What would make their lives easier or more fun? / What can we provide that would fill this need?”
  2. We must use the P.O.S.T. method to determine People / Objectives / Strategy / and Tech (in that order) to further determine and strategically decide what technologies are worth using, and which are never going to be used.
  3. We need to look into the crystal ball. Extension is notoriously reactive and slow to change. We’ve jumped on the mobile app bandwagon ironically as it has begun to run off the road! Mobile apps are beginning to fill very niche areas like entertainment and utility… the rest are morphing into responsively designed websites now that developers realize people aren’t using them. Taking a look at future trends (or determining where everyone else is heading in the mobile app world) can help point us in the right direction.

I believe we’re at a pivotal time in Extension to have an enormous impact: if we can determine how to best fulfill the public’s mobile learning needs. Solving the mobile app dilemma in one step in the right direction.




I’m Glad We’re Not the Only Ones…

This video by social media and “Unmarketing” genius Scott Stratten made me so happy. Not just because he’s a funny and a dynamic presenter, but because it gives me hope. We in Extension are obviously not the only ones who may not be using technology correctly. “We need to think before we do. We need to use technology because we should and not because we can.” Oh yeah, and QR codes kill kittens. Enjoy.


Why Social Media [Strategy] Matters

About a month ago, Greg Martin and John Dorner published a great blog post about why social media matters. Their post was a great one, for many reasons. Of course, we all know (or SHOULD know) by now that social media does indeed matter. It matters a lot. Nearly every conference I’ve attended since I began my career in Extension six years ago has preached the emergence and/or the importance of it. So why do we still feel the need to keep coming back to the topic of it’s importance? Because many are not on board yet, or have just now accepted that the way people receive and learn… even become educated… is changing. But another problem is currently festering in the schism that exists between those who are behind the technological times, and those who are already there, have been there, and are aching to move on. One informal goal of our pilot year for the OSUE Ed Tech project is to try to determine how to best address this growing issue. How do we bring those who are interested in learning more about how to utilize social media as a programming or educational tool up to speed, while encouraging and fostering even more growth in those who are ready to take their tech use to the next level?

I’m in the latter group. I’ve presented at dozens of conferences on the importance of social media and to be very frank, I’m tired of talking about it. I’m ready to move on. I’ve recently shared data from two social media campaign projects I have managed over the past year to present on the importance of having a strategy in mind when it comes to social media use. With the steady stream of Extension professionals coming online more and more, we’ve encountered an issue with Facebook fan pages being created for an entire county office (will someone who follows for Ag program information necessarily want to see community development info?), or blogs or Twitter accounts that simply lay dormant. Educators have created them because they were told it was important to create them, but they are either lost or intimidated when it comes to knowing how to best use these tools. I have recently found however, that many people are much more confident in their social media use if they know how to plan for its use; how to create social media goals and strategies. Because after all, isn’t that we’re all used to in Extension? Logic models, anyone?

So, here are my two-cents (or five-cents) when it comes to social media and where we are finding ourselves in the current online learning climate:

1. Yes, we know social media is important. Now let’s move on. Let’s create goals, strategies, and even resources to make sure we’re using social media the most efficient and effective way possible.

2. Those who want to catch up, will catch up. Yes, there are some who are still behind – should we spend most of our effort coaching those who still need it? (And let’s be honest here, there are some who may always need it.) Or those who want it? I would prefer that we give those who want to learn the resources (read = links) necessary to get them to where they need to be. But we need to begin placing the majority of our time and effort into figuring out which tools are the best fit for our field and audiences. Which leads me into my next point…

3. You do not need to be using every social media tool. Let me type that again – you do not need to be using every social media tool. Part of creating a social media strategy involves deciding who your audience will be, and then determining what tools they’re using. If your audience is not in a certain space, don’t waste your time trying to fill it. Example = if your audience is predominantly male, why the heck are you trying to learn how to use Pinterest?

4. More research, real research, is needed to determine which social media tools and other tech-based teaching methods are worth the effort to use in our field. Our Back to the Kitchen and #SpotTheCow campaigns at OSUE are among the very few to incorporate actual research into social media strategy. And we haven’t begun tracking behavior change data yet (that will come in the second year of the #SpotTheCow campaign), only awareness. This of course will take extra time and effort, but I feel the pay-off will be worth it.

5. Social media is not the end-all-be-all. I know many college students who have shut down their Facebook pages, and are even swearing off Instagram because social media is “in their heads too much”. However, learning how to effectively use current technology tools via strategic thinking and planning will allow us to not continue to feel intimidated or threatened any time a new tool or technology comes around. And may I also add, will keep us from automatically jumping on a new tool bandwagon without knowing its purpose or usefulness.

In Extension, we have prided ourselves in being effective with high-touch programs. We didn’t get this way by preaching to Educators about how important face-to-face programs are without supplying them with a rubric (enter the logic model again, sorry) or strategies to follow to assist them in creating the best curriculum or programs to fit their goals, their audience, and their topic. So why can’t the same logic be applied to social media, or any other tool we’re using? It seems archaic at times, but having a predetermined strategy is the key to being successful in any venture.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment. And as an aside, Paul Hill has begun a brilliant conversation on Twitter based on his “Extension is Broken” blog post. Join the convo by following and Tweeting with the #ExtIsBroken hashtag.