Agriculture Communication


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Hangouts On Air Pilot

Google+ (Google's social networking tool) Hangouts allow users to easily invite up to nine other users at a time into a high-quality video conferencing environment. I am a member of the Network Literacy Community of Practice (CoP), and we have used Google+ Hangouts along with Google Drive (formerly called Google Docs) to create content collaboratively in real time. It's a pretty great tool.

Google has taken Hangouts to another level by allowing them to be broadcast via YouTube. You can have a Hangout with up to 10 people who are able to share their video and voice, and share that Hangout with the world. These Hangouts are called Hangouts On Air, and I think they can be a great tool for education. They are broadcast live and remain archived on YouTube.

I have participated as a contributor in a couple of Hangouts On Air sponsored by eXtension and the Network Literacy CoP. Here's one I moderated on personal vs. professional online identity (

Ag Comm Web Services is looking for teams of collaborators who would like to pilot Google+ Hangouts On Air. If you have a team of six or more people who share an educational goal, and you can commit to the time and training required to produce six Hangouts On Air in 2013, we would love to work with you.

Sonja and I will provide training, assist with setting up required accounts, help with technical troubleshooting and do whatever we can to make your experience with this new tool a success.

If you have a team that is interested or you'd like to talk more about this project, please contact us.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381
Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Sharing Your Web Pages on Facebook

Before you share a link to an Ag CMS item on Facebook (or any other social networking site), visit that item on your public website.

When you are creating or editing an item in the Ag CMS, you are logged-in. Your logged-in view may be different than the public view of an item. For example, you might be using an image that is stored in an Ag CMS folder that is not published. As a logged-in user, you will be able to see the image but a public user will not have permission to view something that is stored in a "private" folder.

The Web address of an Ag CMS item is different when you are viewing it as a logged-in user. Although that Web address might work for public users, it is long and potentially confusing,

If I wanted to share a link to this article on my Facebook page, I would not use the Web address or the Facebook Share button from my logged-in view. Instead I would go to the public view of this article on the Agriculture Communication site at and share it from there.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Learning Opportunities for Dec. 2012

There are some really exciting online learning opportunities this month. Please check out the links below to learn more about these events.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Tweeting Fall Conference

A number of people will be using Twitter to share information from the 2012 Extension/REC Fall Conference, Nov. 5 - 8.

The conference hashtag is #ndsuconf2012.

If you'd like to start using Twitter to find and share information about Fall Conference or anything else you're interested in, checkout our "Tweeting Fall Conference" video. It will show you how to create a Twitter account and start using it.

If you just want to keep up on the tweets from Fall Conference, visit

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381; Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Taking Control of Your Learning Webinars

In September 2012, Ag Comm Web Services offered 3 webinars to help people take control of their own learning through the use of a personal learning network. If you are interested in building a personal learning network, check out the recordings below to help you get started.

They are archives of Wimba webconferences. If prompted for a "room" when accessing the archive, enter "NDSU_Ag".

Start Managing Your Own Learning - If you are not actively keeping up with your own learning and professional development, you are falling behind. A Personal Learning Network (PLN) can provide you with learning from leaders, experts and colleagues around the world, bringing together communities, resources and information impossible to access from within your office walls. Learn how you can get started on your own PLN and contribute to your professional development.

Getting Online Information to Come to You - One key to effective learning in the digital age is to get information to come to you. Learn how you can use online tools to get the information you need to come to you.

Finding People To Learn From - If you want to discover relevant online information that you can trust, connect with smart people who share your interests. People should be a big part of your online network. Learn how use social media to find and follow people who can really enhance your learning and professional development.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381; Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Web Services Learning Opportunities - Sept. 2012

NDSU Ag Comm Web Services will offer several learning opportunities this month.The schedule includes two Ag CMS Web development trainings and three sessions about learning through online networks.

All sessions will be delivered online. All times are Central.

Start Managing Your Own Learning - Sept. 6, 2012, 10 - 11 a.m. - Learn how you can get started on your own personal learning network (PLN) and contribute to your professional development.
Intro to Ag CMS Training - Sept. 11, 2012, 2 - 4 p.m. This session covers the basics of creating and editing Web content in the Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS).
Getting Online Information to Come to You - Sept. 13, 2012, 10 - 11 a.m. Learn how you can use online tools to get the information you need to come to you.
Ag CMS Workshop - Sept. 18, 2012, 9 - 11 a.m. This workshop will allow Ag CMS users at any level of experience to work on their Ag CMS content with help.
Finding People to Learn From - Sept. 20, 2012, 10 - 11 a.m. Learn how use social media to find and follow people who can really enhance your learning and professional development.

To sign up for any of the sessions, go to

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381; Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Your Facebook Giveaways Might Be Breaking the Rules

You may not be aware that Facebook has very specific rules for how you deal with promotions, contests and giveaways on your Facebook page.

Many Facebook pages are violating the Facebook Terms of Service because they are not using a third-party application to run their contest or giveaway.

The Facebook Terms state, "Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App."

You can't run a promotion using the Facebook "Like" button, comments on a post, a photo album or any other native Facebook space. Using an app allows you to run your promotion of a separate tab on your Facebook page or on a "canvas page."

Here are some of the other rules for promotions and contests on Facebook that you need to be aware of:

  • Make sure each participant has released Facebook of any legal responsibility for the contest.
  • Acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  • You must not require participants to "Like" your page, comment on your post, post a photo or perform any other Facebook function to enter your contest.
  • You must not notify winners through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.

Find the complete Facebook terms for promotions at

Facebook can and has removed entire Facebook Pages because they have violated these terms regarding contests, promotions and giveaways.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Use an Editorial Calendar to Plan Your Content

With all the information available and delivered to us everyday, consistent, high-quality content is at a premium. People are hungry for online content that is fresh, engaging and useful. To be sure that you are regularly providing content that meets those standards, an editorial calendar is a must.

An editorial calendar is a simple tool for planning what content you are going to create, when you are going to create it and how you are going to share it with others.

If you are working by yourself, an editorial calendar can keep you on your key messages, keep you from repeating yourself and help you plan and create content in advance of when it is needed.

If you are creating content as a team, an editorial calendar can keep your team from imploding. Being clear about who is responsible for what, when, is critical if you are going to attempt to create and share content as a team.

We are using an editorial calendar in Ag Comm Web Services to plan our blog posts and Facebook Page updates. Take a look at our editorial calendar in action.

If you want to use our template to create your own calendar that your team members can access via Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), go to our template, login to Google Drive/Docs, click "File" and "Make a copy." Share your copy with the members of your team to start using the calendar collaboratively.

If you you are working on your own or prefer to manage your calendar as an Excel file, you can download the template as an Microsoft Office 2007 Excel spreadsheet file.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381
Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Blogs & News Releases - Choosing the Right Tool for the Job

These days, you have a number of ways to get your message to your audience.

Ag Comm staff can help get you started with a blog or website to share timely information online, as well as craft news releases and other materials to reach people through online and traditional media outlets.

However, determining when your content should be shared as a news release, blog post or Web page sometimes can be difficult.

Why not do both?

If a news release and blog post appear online and have "significant" blocks of similar text, Google and other search engines may interpret them as “duplicate content.” Duplicate content hurts the reputation of both sites. NDSU Ag news releases are posted online at, so taking all or some of a news release and posting it to a blog or Web page could result in both sites being considered duplicate content.

Using the right channel (news release, blog or Web page) for the content can help you avoid duplicate content and serve your audience more effectively.

When to use a news release.

When it's official - News releases are still recognized as the official, "on-the-record" method for public communication. If you are announcing the hiring of a new employee, changing hours of operation or making a similar official announcement, use a news release.

When it's newsworthy - Content is newsworthy when it is timely and has broad appeal. Most news releases go to a wide variety of daily and weekly newspapers, radio and TV stations, and online news sources and blogs. If you want multiple news sources to use your news release, the content better be newsworthy.

When you want a specific outcome - News releases can be effective in getting results. For example, when you need people to register or attend an event.

News releases that come from NDSU Agriculture Communication or from your office or department should relate directly to NDSU. For example, NDSU must be a sponsor or co-sponsor of an event. We are not responsible for promoting another organization’s event, activity or program.

When to use a blog post or Web page

When you are providing an "inside" perspective - Blog posts are a great way of giving your audience a glimpse behind the curtain at your work. Posts about securing speakers or a location for an event can make people feel more connected to that event. Posts about a project that is in development can give your audience an opportunity to offer their input for making the project effective.

When you need to go "in-depth" - News releases offer limited space (in print or on-air) and are one-time opportunities. Blogs allow you to discuss a topic from multiple perspectives, across multiple posts.

When you need to get information out now - Sometimes you cannot wait to get people important information about an immediate threat or concern. If you have content you need to get out right now, blogs and social media are the way to go.

When you want to engage your audience - New releases provide very limited ways for people to get more information or provide feedback. If you want to engage your audience, posting to a blog that allows comments is a great way to do it.

Make them work together

  • Effective communication isn't just about using the right tool, it's also about making your tools work together.
  • Use blog posts to provide in-depth content on a topic you shared in a news release.
  • "Preview" upcoming news releases in blog posts about things you are working on or preparing for.
  • Use a news release to promote a blog post or series of blog posts
  • Write a blog post that customizes content for a specific audience and links back to the news release intended for a broad audience.

For help with news releases:

Ellen Crawford, Information Specialist, (701) 231-5391
Rich Mattern, Information Specialist, (701) 231-6136

For help with blogs and Web pages:

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381
Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Check Out Our Web Services Facebook Page

NDSU Ag Comm Web Services is sharing information on new technologies and working differently in a number of places, including on the NDSU Ag Comm Web Services Facebook Page (

Recent posts featured ways to find and legally use music in videos and presentations, how to schedule posts on your Facebook Page and some great insights on learning in the workplace.

Log in to Facebook and visit to like the Web Services Facebook Page. You can get even more information from Web Services through the Ag Communication Web Services blog,, and by following Bob Bertsch ( and Sonja Fuchs ( on Twitter.

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