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Does "Building Extension's Public Value" need a presence on Facebook?

For Extension 2.0, I am looking (for the first time, I admit!) at social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. I know that these sites are being used for much more than catching up with friends, and they are no longer simply the domain of students. Nevertheless, to the extent that a presence on MySpace and Facebook is beneficial for Extension programs, my guess is that the greatest benefit will go to programs that reach out to youth. The benefit of a Facebook page for "Building Extension's Public Value," a program directed at Extension professionals, is not obvious to me. What do you think?

Comments

Not obvious to me either... I guess it would depend on how many of your audience (Extension professionals) are on the site you use (like Facebook). I would guess, not many?

Hey Laura. Get on facebook! I chose to get on facebook about a year ago, and long before many in my target audience are there. I wanted to be there when they tried it out, and to be able to help and support people as they dip their toes in the water.

I admit that I use it more for personal than professional communication now, but more and more Extension folks are on facebook all the time. I'm glad I'm on and encourage you to join. If you do, friend me and I'll connect you to the Extension groups and people that I know.

In a bigger picture sense, I would argue that use of these tools is not only advisable but almost essential to Extension's relevance in the longer term. Web 2.0 will, before too long, be the only web that anyone uses. Social networking sites are only one part of the picture (I'm really hoping you keep this blog going too!) but Extension needs to be where the conversations are happening, not locked up in our brick and mortar offices, if we want to be known and seen as a useful source of information and assistance to communities and even each other.

If people go looking for info and help and don't find us, they will find someone else. We need to be there.

Great job with the blog!
-eli

Eli, you sure make a compelling case! Good for you for pushing some of us late-adopters to try out social networking. In your opinion, is Facebook the right place to start? What about something more geared to professional contacts, such as LinkedIn?

I'm on both FB and LinkedIn. I find FB MUCH more useful than LinkedIn for two important reasons:

1) Far more of my contacts are on FB than LinkedIn, and

2) FB is built for interaction. LinkedIn is getting better, but really isn't well set up for interaction. As a consequence, I get almost nothing out of my time on LinkedIn. Would that change if I lost my job tomorrow? Maybe, I don't know.

FB has created huge value for me. Having lived in a lot of different cities and being a terrible correspondent, I'd lost touch with many old friends over the years. Since I got back on FB, I'm connected again with many of them. That may seem trivial to some, but to me it's been not only fun but has reconnected me to my past. I love it.

As for professional communications, the eXtension group does a fair bit on FB. Otherwise, other than learning how the medium works for possible future use, I can't say I get a ton of professional benefit from it. That would / will change when many more of my professional contacts get on there.