Using social media in your Extension program

Explore how you can safely use social media to enhance your programs.

Many popular social media platforms can be an excellent way to communicate, share information and publicize your Michigan State University Extension program! Explore how you can safely use social media to enhance your Extension programs. Below are some examples of social media sites that may enhance your program.

''With over 900 million active users, the most popular of all the social media platforms is Facebook. Besides catching up with old friends and sharing cute pictures, Facebook can be a very useful marketing and information sharing platform. This free website allows users to set up a profile and connect with friends who share common interests. You can set-up an Event Page for an upcoming Michigan 4-H or MSU Extension activity. This feature allows you to invite other Facebook users to the event, share pictures and information, as well as quickly notify all attendees of any changes to the event. Additionally, Facebook allows users to establish pages and groups. These are another way to publicize an activity or spread the news about the wonderful things you’re doing in your specific program. With permission, you may also highlight 4-H members and their accomplishments and encourage interaction with all of those involved in the page or group. We’ve recently created a Facebook page for all MI 4-H Horse & Pony Project Leaders, be sure to “like” the page to stay up to date with our programs and events!

Twitter is gaining popularity across the nation. With over 140 million users, Twitter offers the opportunity to quickly share small pieces of information. “Tweets” can be a maxim''um of 140 characters which prevents long-winded users from over-sharing! Developing a Twitter account may be just the way to send out quick reminders and updates about upcoming club meetings or activities.

YouTube is a social media website centered around videos. Users can easily upload or view videos at no charge. If used appropriately YouTube can be a fantastic resource for useful, educational ''and even entertaining videos! The website is organized by channels allowing you to search for topics of interest. There are a plethora of instructional videos on anything from preparing your 4-H project animal for show to developing oral reasons for livestock judging, and even Robert’s Rules of Order for club meetings. These videos are a great supplemental resource to use while working with existing 4-H curriculum. Visit the YouTube channel for Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. You can also visit this YouTube Channel for many useful equine-related videos.

A fairly new website that is increasing in popularity is Pinterest. Pinterest’s mission is to connect people through the things they find interesting via inspiration and idea sharing. Pinterest is a phot''o sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections (Pinboards) including recipes, events, interests and hobbies. Users can browse other Pinboards for inspiration, ‘repin’ images to their own Pinboards or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest can make difficult tasks much easier by providing creative ideas for activities like stall decorating, craft projects, sewing and pot lucks. Even better, each pin (photo) is linked with instructions on how to create what you see in the picture (a recipe, craft, etc.) or where to purchase the product.

As with anything on the internet it is crucial to be safe and responsible with the information that you share. If used appropriately, social media can be a very positive resource. For more information on internet safety, Net Smartz Workshops is a great resource.

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