An Analysis and Recommendations of the Use of Social Media within the Cooperative Extension System: Opportunities, Risks, and Barriers
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Fuess, Lucas C.
In recent years, social media has become a huge and integral component of how people spend their time online; from wikis to blogs and from Facebook to Twitter, people are spending enormous amounts of time on websites used to share information and connect with people. New forms of relationship building and social capital occur through social networking sites. Within Cooperative Extension, it is imperative to keep up with evolving forms of communication to connect with an ever changing audience. Interviews were conducted throughout New York and Wisconsin with educators in both rural and urban counties, with varying amounts of social media experience, and varying ages and backgrounds. A cross state study was conducted to determine if results were consistent in unique areas. Questions asked determined how Cooperative Extension is utilizing social media to connect with people in different ways, if social media was an effective communication platform, and if it is worth it for Cooperative Extension to utilize this resource. Data was collected about the uses of social media and its perceived opportunities, risks, and barriers for use. Conclusions drawn indicate people are excited about a new, free, and easy opportunity to connect with others. Concerns include time spent using social media, a perceived lack of privacy and control of the websites, and a lack of training opportunities for extension educators. As technology continues to evolve, Cooperative Extension needs to evolve as well in order to most effectively communicate with constituents.
social media; Cooperative Extension; non-profits; use; Facebook; risks; opportunities
dissertation or thesis