Communities of Practice have been embracing social media for several years but 2012 saw a marked increase in social reach and engagement by eXtension CoPs. From YouTube to Pinterest, CoPs are using social media to reach the public and engage new audiences in their work.
One of the benefits of using social media is reaching new audiences who may not have accessed Cooperative Extension resources in the past or may not be aware of Extension at all. There are many ways to gauge social media “reach” from new Facebook “likes” to YouTube Views. In 2012, CoPs reported over 3 million YouTube views (29% increase), 12,208 Twitter followers (364% increase) and 10,606 “likes” on Facebook (177% increase). Overall, eXtension CoPs reached a total of 3,574,454 people via social media in 2012.
In addition to reaching more people in 2012, CoPs engaged with more people through social media. Engagement metrics tell us more about how audiences are interacting with us by collecting information such as number of times a Facebook post has been “shared” or a story about us has been created on Facebook. Twitter “retweets” and visits to various second life spaces are also examples of people engaging with our content. The table below highlights engagement metrics from 2011 and 2012.
These data provide a strong case for the power of social media as a means to not only reach people but engage them in our work and networks. To find Extension colleagues or CoPs in social media check out Find Colleagues by Social Network in the eXtension People application (http://www.extension.org/people/colleagues/socialnetworks).