269-1 Social Media a Fad or the Future? Experiences of An Extension Agronomist in Northwestern U.S.

See more from this Division: A04 Extension Education
See more from this Session: Symposium--Using the Web and Social Networking in Our Programming
Wednesday, November 3, 2010: 1:15 PM
Long Beach Convention Center, Room 103B, First Floor
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Mary Corp, Crop and Soil Science, Oregon State University, Pendleton, OR and Chris LaBelle, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Agricultural extension faculty find both blessings and challenges in the ever increasing speed that new technology delivers information. Social media has changed static web sites into an interactive morass of information and opinions. Extension has a long history of using informal education to reach communities, yet social media adds a new dimension. With Web 2.0 and social media, web-based customers expect to interact with content. Social media offers Extension faculty an expedient method to reach audiences. For example, pest alerts and disease outbreak notices during the growing season can be quickly dispersed. In this context, social media offers numerous benefits over traditional methods of communication: lower cost, an ability to reach a wider audience and communication leveraging. Social media often increases the visibility of existing research and educational efforts. Preliminary on-line survey results (41 respondents) at www.cerealcentral.com finds 67.7% participants responding that pest information and updates were important information followed by newsletters (55%), and event information (32%). When asked to rank (1=low to 4=high) preferences for learning about agricultural pests: Email updates ranked highest (4), followed by email newsletters (3), blogs(2) and Twitter (1). When asked if information provided was used to make farm management decisions, respondents indicated: often at 13%, sometimes (53%), and rarely (13%); while not applicable was 22%. This number (22%) is similar to the number of respondents who indicated that they use information to answer questions for agricultural clientele. Web statistics for www.cerealcentral.com also indicates an increase in usage from outside the United States. International visits increased from 10% to 22% in the last 7 years with 11% from Canada. A recent interview with Fox Business News in New York and an inquiry from the Canadian Provincial Government were directly related to an established web presence. With shrinking budgets and reduced personnel, social media provides research based information in readily accessible forms. It is critical that reliable, validated information from land grant universities be clearly communicated so that decisions being made are based on science not popularity. Social media provides an excellent vehicle to do accomplish this goal.
See more from this Division: A04 Extension Education
See more from this Session: Symposium--Using the Web and Social Networking in Our Programming