In the face of the worst pandemic in the last 100 years, maintaining strong ties within the communities we serve can feel like an uphill battle. Even with social distancing, it’s important that we continue to meet the needs of Oregonians and to maintain strong ties with each other as we face this public health crisis together.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us in Extension are faced with a dilemma: how do we continue to offer vulnerable community members the opportunity to continue engaging with the event-based programming they want to attend, but can’t?

Recently, 4-H and the FFA were planning the Grant County Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit. The necessary Covid-19 related precautions were planned, including social distancing and limiting attendance. But, the reduced attendance posed several drawbacks to the viability and effectiveness of this event and future ones like it.

Bonni Booth, the 4-H Program Coordinator for Grant County, learned about a local church that was successfully live streaming their service to those who couldn’t attend in-person. The church offered Bonni and her team a laptop, camera, and WiFi access to stream live video from their event onto YouTube. To leverage OSU Extension’s YouTube subscriber following, she reached out to Extension Communications to see if we had an official YouTube channel for streaming live events.

We didn’t have such a channel, but now we do. We present to you: OSU Extension Live, a YouTube channel dedicated to broadcasting your event quickly and to a large audience.

screenshot of the live video image with analytics graph below

How OSU Extension Live works

It’s accessible from practically any device with an internet connection, even a mobile phone or a smart TV. People who prefer to quarantine can connect with their Extension communities. Those with scheduling conflicts can rewind the stream to watch the parts they had missed. Bonni told me after the event that grandparents of the 4-H youth who lived across state lines thanked her for letting them watch their grandchildren show their animals. Expanding our services to reach underserved audiences is a great perk, pandemic or not.

Bar graph showing desktop was most used to watch and most on Thursday. TV and mobile were next popular and tablet and game console not as much.

The Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit was six days long and included an array of activities that took place at different times. YouTube’s in-depth analytics shows which activities gathered the largest virtual crowds, and can even give a general sense of who is tuning in. These data points can help you determine which parts of the event were the most popular and which didn’t hold the audience’s attention.

line graph of live concurrent viewers by time of day

This isn’t just a piece of the solution for social distancing, this is a paradigm shift for offering accessible content to people with all sorts of reasons for not attending an event in-person. All the while, accessing powerful feedback to help you shape your future programming.

How you can get started

We are working to make live video streaming to OSU Extension Live as easy as possible, but there are some extra considerations.

  1. You will need a data connection. Streaming won’t work without a stable connection to YouTube.
  2. University policy for youth programming states that a model release must be completed by all youth present on-camera. Most youth programs have a model release as part of their enrollment process, but make sure to bring extra forms to the event in the case that a youth without one wants to participate on-camera.
  3. If you elect to open up the live stream to comments, make sure someone is available to moderate those comments.

Let’s say that an event you are hosting is coming up and you want to determine whether to host a live video stream. What makes an event ideal for live streaming?

  • Is your event intended for a public audience? If not, perhaps a video conferencing platform like Zoom is more appropriate.
  • Do you have a way to advertise the event to your audience? Sharing the streaming link in an email or on social media with your audience and drumming up excitement days or weeks in advance will ensure the best turn-out.
  • Is this a recurring event? Perhaps there is an unserved audience of prospective members who would like to see what your event is like from the comfort of their own home.
  • Is there someone available who can periodically check on the webcam?

Traffic ration by source shows 40.1% external link, 32.1% direct url entry, and less than 10% for each of the other 5 sources

 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about live video streaming, contact Alan Dennis or Victor Villegas.

You are also more than welcome to learn more by attending our Extension Annual Conference session titled, “Virtual Program Delivery with Live Streamed Video” which is slated for Monday, December 7, 2020 from 10:15 – 10:45 AM.

For some of you working in Extension programs across Oregon, caring for and managing social media engagement with constituents is merely a part-time gig. Not that you have a big choice about it—that’s just sort of how it works out given everything on our plates, right?

This can mean that finding the right tool with the right mix of features can make all the difference for whether “part-time” looks like mere minutes each day vs perhaps spending far more—gobs of valuable time spent logging in and out of various social accounts, hunting for insights about what’s taken place in the past few days, then anguishing over what to post or which comments deserve more attention.

We can talk about a better way to keep the investment of your time to a reasonable level.

A focus on game-changing features

A comparison of features in basic and pro versions of Social Studio software
A table of all features in Basic or Pro plan of Salesforce’s Social Studio

It only takes a few minutes to search the web and find free options for some of the management features you’d want in place for well-run social media management. And sure, that can be a nice starting point.

Frankly, the tool we find inside the Salesforce CRM, called Social Studio, is not free for us. However, we sure know the “you get what you pay for” adage and it applies here (plus, bear in mind many programs will see vast majority of Salesforce licensing paid by central Extension, pending a review of your project requirements).

To the right, there is a table showing all the Basic and Pro plan features found in Social Studio.

I picked out my own favorites, highlighting them in green. As compared to free services elsewhere, it’s on account of these highlighted options that Social Studio really shines.

Broad Listening/Social Listening

Among the full feature list, I took care to highlight any of the myriad features having to do with Broad (or Social) Listening. This truly is the big ticket item in Social Studio from which you’ll see big benefits.

As a for-instance, one of the use cases I’ve managed to hear about is the re-posting or re-tweeting of Extension program posts by the central Extension Service’s social media team over in Extension Communications. Think of it this way: if your program’s Facebook audience is, let’s say, 100 people, while the Extension’s Facebook audience numbers 1,000, their action of re-posting one of your program’s posts increases your potential audience by a factor of 10. It can add up! So, that is a valuable service they are providing—how would they pull that off as efficiently as possible?

Enter Broad Listening in Social Studio.

After logging in to the platform, there’s an “Engage” tab. Click that and you arrive at a wide page with all your social listening efforts organized in one easy-to-use place.

A sample screen from Salesforce‘s Social Studio management platform

In our example use case, our intrepid social media manager has set one column so it’s entirely dedicated to every “@” mention, hashtag, or web address mention for all of the Extension programs’ existing social media presences—and I do mean all of them.

Social Studio provides access to post or page content for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, news aggregators, blogs, reviews sites, forums, and on n’ on. At a glance, our central Extension team member (just to stick to our hypothetical use case) is able to review all the past day’s or week’s activity, deciding in minutes which ones to re-post on their main social media channels.

Plus, any one “post” can instantly be published to as many of your social media channels you want all at once. The ol’ write-once-and-publish-everywhere trick. Plus, leverage the ability to schedule the post to publish later in the day, or perhaps next week; the choice is yours. If you’re working at 8:00 a.m. and you know your audience is more likely to engage with your social media content around 5:00 p.m., you can set a publishing time of your choosing. Plus, don’t forget that the analytics data in Social Studio is able to inform you when your audience is most likely to engage with your content!

Content Calendar

The content calendar feature can be really valuable and it gets an honorary mention here as well.

This content calendar pertains to social media posts that one can plan and create ahead of time. This can be a real time saver. Feel free to reach out to me for more details, if you would like to learn more?

Full review of features

As I mentioned before, the full array of features is provided in the embedded features table. Certainly, the first thing to appreciate is the sheer volume of cool things you can do with the platform.

Admittedly, the struggle here can be finding ways to appreciate how any of these features directly help you in a day-to-day sort of way! I encourage you to scan the list; see which of these fit with your vision for stepping up your social media management game.

And if you want or need some assistance with evaluating how meaningful any of the features can be for your work, read on to learn more about requesting a personalized demo session for your program or county.

Would you like to see how the Outdoor School Program managed it?

Some of you may have already come across the social media efforts of our own OSU Outdoor School Program, with their facebook page, and twitter profile.

In February, the Outdoor School team chose Social Studio as the way to listen to conversations swirling around social media channels having to do with outdoor education, STEAM/STEM education topics, the challenges faced by outdoor school and camp providers throughout the state, and much more.

As March and the COVID-19 response hit, the unlimited number of users afforded to them by their license allowed for the quick addition of new team members to leap into the role of accessing Social Studio and beginning to create content in the platform. This rapid response allowed them to nimbly react to the changing needs of their social media communications.

You would be able to reach out to Rita Bauer or anyone you know in the Outdoor School Program for more on how this tool helped them manage and track their social media efforts.

Or reach out to me to schedule a brief demo. I’m here to help.

 

 


Extension website updates.

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