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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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Improving Image Quality in Microsoft LiveMeeting

For the past few weeks, the NDSU Extension Horticulture/Forestry team has been using the webconferencing tool Microsoft LiveMeeting for its weekly meetings with specialists and agents across the state. At a recent meeting, we noticed the images the presenter was sharing in LiveMeeting appeared blurred. Some users said they looked like impressionist paintings instead of clear photos.

The presenter was sharing the photos with the group using screen sharing in LiveMeeting. After some investigation, we discovered that while screen sharing works well for simple graphics and text, it is not great for detailed photos.

For the most recent meeting, the presenter inserted the photos he wanted to share into a PowerPoint presentation (one photo on each slide), then uploaded the PowerPoint to LiveMeeting. When he shared the uploaded presentation, the images came through to the other participants at a much higher quality than they did with screen sharing.

Here's a short screencast on how to use this method for sharing photos in LiveMeeting,



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

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Atomic Learning a New Technology Resource

Atomic Learning is an online resource with short instructional videos about many popular software programs and applications. Now available to NDSU faculty and staff thanks to Distance and Continuing Education, this resource can help you find quick answers to your technology questions.

Want to embed a video clip into a slide? There's a 1:53 clip that shows you how step-by-step. Want to see how to upload onto Flickr so you can share some of your photos in the Ag Comm Group? There's a 1:28 clip on uploading. Want to work collaboratively with colleagues in Google Docs? There's a 3:00 clip on inviting people as editors or viewers. And the list of software or Web applications and functions goes on.

To access Atomic Learning, go to the DCE Atomic Learning website, click on the secure URL, and login with your NDSU username and password. From there, you can either search or filter to find answers to your technology questions.

Becky Koch, Director, (701) 231-7875

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Ag CMS Upgrade Starts April 9

For the past several months, we have been talking about upgrading the Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS) and updating the Ag CMS theme to align with the new NDSU TYPO 3 theme launched at the start of the academic year.

We are finally ready to begin the process of upgrading the Ag CMS and updating the theme. We will be upgrading one "instance" at a time. The Ag CMS is organized in four instances: County Extension Sites, REC Sites, Academic Sites, and Topic & Other Sites. We will be upgrading the smallest instance, Academic Sites, first. The Academic Sites upgrade will begin April 9 and should be complete by April 30.

We will be following the same process for all of the Ag CMS instances:

  • Notify site managers on that instance one week prior to starting upgrade.
  • Copy all sites on that instance to the upgraded Ag CMS server.
  • Once the instance has been copied to the new server, site managers will have two Ag CMS sites: their current site and their new site on the upgraded server.
  • Site managers will have three weeks after the instance has been copied to review their new site and see how it looks in the upgraded Ag CMS and new theme. They can login to their new site and make adjustments to correct any problems with how the site looks and get the new site ready to “go live.”  Important: If content is added or edited on heir current site after the instance has been copied, those changes WILL NOT appear on the new site. If they add or edit content on their new site, those changes WILL NOT appear on their current site.
  • Once site managers have made any necessary changes to their new site, they can make a “go live” request. When we receive the request, we will make the new site live to the public and remove the current site from public view.

Once the Academic Sites instance has been successfully upgraded, we will move on to the other instances. If you are the site manager for any site on the Ag CMS, you will receive an email at least one week in advance of the date your instance will begin the upgrade process.

The upgrade and the theme update are really two separate processes. The Ag CMS upgrade will change the software the Ag CMS is built on (Plone) from one version to another. The update to the Ag CMS theme only affects how content in the Ag CMS looks, not how it is created or maintained. 

The Ag CMS upgrade should result in faster performance of the Ag CMS. Web content will be delivered more quickly to the end users, and Ag CMS content creators will be able to edit, save and publish content more quickly.

The upgrade also will improve the handling of large files. Storage of large files is something we have struggled with in Ag CMS. This upgrade will help us to quickly deliver large files to the end user and to use fewer server resources in the storage of these files.

The upgrade's most noticeable change will be to the visual editor. Ag CMS content creators use the visual editor to create and format Web content on their sites. The upgrade includes a new visual editor that promises to be more intuitive and boasts additional features (like more robust table editing) that are not part of our current visual editor.

At the same time we upgrade the Ag CMS, we will be changing the Ag CMS theme to be consistent with the theme used on other NDSU websites. For an example of the new NDSU theme, go to

If you have questions about the Ag CMS upgrade and theme update, please let me know.

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

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Use Firefox for Ag CMS

A recent update to Internet Explorer has caused problems for some Ag CMS users trying to edit their pages using Internet Explorer.

Although some versions of Internet Explorer may work for editing Ag CMS pages, our recommended browser for Ag CMS users has always been and continues to be Firefox.

If you are having trouble adding or editing your Ag CMS site using Internet Explorer, please download and install  Firefox at and use it for editing your Ag CMS site.

- Bob Bertsch, 701-231-7381

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Using Facebook As a Page Administrator

If you have a Facebook Page for your office, department or project, you probably know that you can log on to Facebook as yourself, go to your page and create a post that appears to come from your page instead of from you personally. You may not have known that you can actually use Facebook as your page.

Using Facebook as your page, instead of as an individual allows you to engage other pages, re-post from other pages, tag other pages in a post and more. This can be great for developing relationships with other offices and/or departments and with partner organizations.

Check out this video "How to use Facebook as an administrator vs. as a person" created by John Haydon of Socialbrite to learn how to do it.

- Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist

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Connect With Colleagues Using Communicator

Do you thrive on interaction? I do. I will often interrupt my suite-mate Roger with no pressing work-related task, but with an open-ended question that I hope will lead to an exchange of ideas. Expressing my thoughts and getting someone's feedback on my ideas is critical to my ability to stay engaged in and excited about my work.

At NDSU, we don't have to wait for the next brainstorming meeting or send mass invites to the latest social network to connect with our co-workers. Office Communicator is a tool available to us through Microsoft Online Services. Communicator is an instant communication tool, a chat. It's a great way to increase and enhance the informal interaction that is now relegated to the hall or the office doorway.

NDSU employees can download and install Office Communicator by following these instructions. You can learn more about using Communicator here. Try it out and encourage others in your department or on your team to do the same. Use Communicator to ask a question, share an idea or just say, "Hi." Let the information flow.

- Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist

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