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Growing Your Roots: Social Media and Environmental Education by.

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1 Growing Your Roots: Social Media and Environmental Education by

2 Executive Summary East Side Media was asked to do three things: 1. Research on Constituency Groups 2. Analysis of Social Media Programming by ACEE 3. Review Outreach Strategies for Social Media These results are relevant to all environmental education agencies.

3 Research on Constituent Groups Overview Keys in using social media effectively are knowing where your audience is and what they are talking about Tactics used for engagement can be influenced by who your audience is, what networks they are on, and what they are talking about Environmental educators have fairly well defined audiences, the research aims to identify what networks those audiences are on and what they are discussing

4 Research on Constituent Groups Alberta Teachers Strong community of Alberta teachers who are particularly active in Twitter. Their focus varies wildly, environmental education was not a strong focus of their activity There are no locations (i.e. pages or groups) on Twitter that users congregate to interact, activity on Twitter is limited to individual user interaction on a user-by-user basis Easiest and most direct means of accessing Alberta teachers on Twitter is through the “#abed” hashtag (stands for “Alberta Education”) Follow the hashtag, participate in the conversations that happen, and reach out to the teachers involved in those conversations (especially key users who are very active and well networked)

5 Research on Constituent Groups Alberta Teachers Alberta teachers are also engaged in a lot of blogging Blogging offers individuals with particular expertise the opportunity to write about the topics of their interest in greater depth than most other forms of social media and networking Not uncommon to have professional sub-communities generate blogging networks to share, peer review, and collectively develop their expertise Twitter and blogging can be complementary activities as Twitter is an effective networking tool for the blogging that one does

6 Research on Constituent Groups Alberta Teachers Facebook can also be useful in this way, but Alberta teachers are not using it as such Blogging presents a useful opportunity for engagement between environmental education groups and Alberta teachers Topics of blogging for most Alberta teachers focus on two things: the subjects they teach (math, english, social studies, history, etc.) or pedagogy (I.e. theories and models of teaching itself) These topics have a naturally narrow focus for readership

7 Research on Constituent Groups Alberta Teachers By engaging teachers through their own blogs (linking to, mentioning, and responding to the teachers' blogs), environmental education groups will be able to expose their work to a larger audience while building a relationship with those teachers Also worth engaging are school boards with blogs or elements of their websites that function like a blog

8 Research on Constituent Groups Connecting with Other Groups The tools available through Facebook (posts, likes, comments, pictures, videos, questions, etc. make using it as the primary avenue for engagement a natural fit Help yourself by helping others: like others' pages, share others' posts, comment on and like posts of others, etc. Very little barrier to outreach on Twitter, easy to connect and begin basic engagement with other organizations Determine popular hashtags in use by Twitter users with which ACEE might like to connect (#green, #environment, #energy, #sustainability, #yyc, #yeg, etc.) and participate in conversations using those hashtags

9 Research on Constituent Groups Connecting with Other Groups Use Twitter engagement to eventually build relationships on more robust networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogging

10 Research on Constituent Groups Conclusions Focus on engagement: must sincerely and authentically participate in and become a part of the communities to which your target audience belongs Remember to spend as much time listening as you do speaking (if not more) Social media users are on networks for social interaction – two-way communication is key in this regard Know who your audience is and what they're interested in talking about

11 Successful Use of Social Media Always reply to comments and fashion responses to solicit further input from your audience Demonstrating you're interested in your audience's opinions will help to generate more substantial relationships Facebook Reciprocity is key on Facebook (and most social media), make sure communication is two-way Make sure all of the content you post is geared towards engaging your audience

12 Successful Use of Social Media Facebook More comments will increase the visibility and reach of your posts Ask questions and seek feedback from your audience explicitly Tagging people in your posts is a good way to get their attention Vary your content to keep your page fresh and interactive

13 Successful Use of Social Media Blogging Blogging is a social exercise, do it well but also have fun with it Timeliness of content is important, news move quickly online Write conversationally and network with other bloggers where possible Takes blogging cues from how you would operate your Facebook page Use Facebook and Twitter to promote your blog posts

14 Successful Use of Social Media Twitter Focus on building a network, the bigger and broader your network the more influence and reach you have Retweet other users' tweets and focus on one-on-one interactions Show that you're interested in engagement & not just broadcasting Always retweet in the old fashion tweet) & add thoughts to your RT Use an MT (modified tweet) to partially repost a tweet too long to RT in its entirety

15 Successful Use of Social Media The Numbers Game Facebook ads can help to build numbers quickly Good to run an ad in conjunction with some sort of contest to pique curiosity and interest Always build an engagement piece into the contest, just a page like isn't enough Regular activity will help to build numbers on Twitter Identify key, well-networked users to follow on Twitter

16 Successful Use of Social Media The Numbers Game Create a list of people you want to have follow you and a strategy for convincing them to do so Can pay to promote tweets, generally less effective than Facebook ads Post regularly about timely issues to keep your blog readers coming back better networked bloggers asking them to link or respond to one of your posts Consider implementing a blogroll (list of recommended blogs)

17 Outreach Strategies Overview Don't promote your content with the same network of people every time, vary your pitches up to target specific people for different posts Determine a particular salable angle for your content that you can use in promoting and increasing exposure for it Look not just at people who might interested in your content, but also people in their networks about whom you might not have thought or known Do a cost benefit analysis on time spent promoting your content vs. other activities for your organization – find the right balance

18 Outreach Strategies Facebook If you have a pre-existing relationship with the owner of the Facebook page, then a private ask via telephone or might be best If you know the page is alright with readers posting updates, then go ahead and do so Asking permission to promote a post on someone's page before doing so is an important but often forgotten step Consider also tagging a page you want to promote the post when you publish a link on your own page

19 Outreach Strategies Twitter If no relationship is pre-existing, then try tweeting a link to the blog post with a mention of the user you want to retweet and a short explanation of why they might be interest Remember to leave some space in your tweet so that it is easily retweeted (at least 10 characters) Direct messaging a user who is following you is also available, though generally considered less effective

20 Conclusion Key Insights Substantial opportunities for network and relationship building through blogging (especially with teachers), try incorporating more informal practice of blogging to increase content, focus on timely issues Focus efforts on developing Facebook, Twitter, and blogging as effective social media channels, leave other networks for later development Always gear content towards engagement: how does what you post invite feedback from and interactions with your audience? Balance quantitative and qualitative approaches, grow your networks but make sure you do so in a sustainable fashion by not sacrificing time and energy on quality engagement


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