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Insights Into a Viral Facebook Post

This past weekend (Jan. 30 - Feb 1, 2015) the NDSU Extension - Lawns, Gardens and Trees Facebook Page had one of their posts go viral. The previous 10 posts on the page averaged a reach (the number of people a post was served to) of 453.8. The post below reached more than 187,000 people. By looking at the Facebook Insights for the post, we might see a couple of reasons why.

LGT Succulents Facebook Post

There are definitely reasons for this post going viral that go beyond anything that can be quantified. The photo obviously resonated with people. It got more than 10,000 likes and 2,200 shares. It might be that the photo shows a great idea that many people had not been exposed to before. I call this the "cool" factor. if something you see online makes you say, "Cool," you are more likely to share it because it might make your friends say, "Cool," and make them think that you are cool.

The photo is also timely. It was posted on January 30 (more on that later), 15 days before Valentine's Day. Some people might be looking for Valentine's Day gift ideas, and along comes this photo. The photo clearly shows it's subject. Some people may have been tempted to take a photo of the entire display table and posted it with text like "Look at all the great ideas at this event!" I don't think a post like that would have been as effective. The actual post contained a single idea that could be shared and replicated instead of a table full of ideas that were unclear.

By looking at Facebook Insights I found some more tangible reasons why this post might have spread so widely. The first thing I did was to look at where the earliest shares of the post came from. This wasn't easy. You can access the shares from the admin view of the post, but by the time I looked at the shares there were more than 2,000, which meant a lot of scrolling to get to the earliest shares.

The post was put up at 4:40 p.m. (Central) on January 30, 2015. the first share happened at 8:48 p.m. That first share got 10 likes and 3 comments. The second and third shares had similar numbers of likes and comments, but the fourth share at 10:57 p.m. got 128 likes and 21 comments. The next 3 shares again had modest numbers of likes and comments, but at 12:10 a.m. on January 31, the post was shared on the Sweetstuff's Sassy Succulents Facebook Page garnering 249 likes and 10 comments. After that more and more of the shares began coming from Facebook Pages rather than people on Facebook, and the post began to reach more people. By 10:07 a.m. on January 31, the post had found it's way to the Facebook Page of Garden Design magazine, a page with 406,403 likes. When they shared the post it received 1,941 likes and 181 comments. By the standards of other NDSU Extension Facebook posts, it had gone viral.

Facebook Pages tend to have more likes than individual people on Facebook have friends, so the numbers are in their favor. Facebook Pages also have an imperative to share content they think is valuable to their audience, so they are looking for quality information with the intention of sharing it. I'm not saying you should focus all of your Facebook Page activity on reaching other Facebook Pages, but connecting with other Pages, especially those outside your organization that may reach a different audience than you reach, should be part of your strategy.

Let's get back to the timing of this post. It was posted late in the afternoon on a Friday. If you post to your Facebook Page only when you are in your office, you might not post very often on a Friday afternoon. The NDSU Extension Service - Lawns, Gardens and Trees Facebook Page hadn't posted on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday since October 2014. By posting late on a Friday, they potentially reached an audience they had not reached before, or they reached their audience at a time when it was more convenient for them to share.

If you look at the general data, like they do here, you might think weekends are a bad time to post to Facebook, but you aren't trying to reach 1.1 billion Facebook users. You are trying to reach your audience. You need to find out when your audience is on Facebook and when they are ready to engage. The best way to find out is to post at a lot of different times, then look back at your Facebook Insights and see what you can learn. If there is a time your audience seems more engaged, you might want to schedule important posts for that time, but don't forget about the rest of your audience. Continue to spread out your posts to reach more people.

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

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Create a Call-To-Action on Your Facebook Page

Facebook is rolling out a new "Call-To-Action" feature for Facebook Pages for brands, businesses and organizations. It's pretty simple, but pretty useful as well. It allows you to create a button at the top of your Facebook Page that links to any destination on or off of Facebook. Currently, you can choose from 2 buttons, ""Shop Now" or "Sign Up."

I used the feature to create a "Sign Up" button on the Nourishing Boomers and Beyond Facebook Page that leads to the signup form for the program's e-newsletter.

Facebook Call To Action

As you might have noticed in the image, Facebook has added a new metric for "CTA Clicks" which will track how many times your call-to-action button is clicked.

To create your own call-to-action button, log in to Facebook, go to the Facebook Page you administer and click on the "Create Call-To-Action" button. Just put in the web address of the web page, Google Form, Qualtrics survey or whatever you want the button to link to.

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

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Microsoft Launches Outlook Apps for iOS and Android

On January 29, 2015 Microsoft launched new Outlook apps for Android and iOS.The new apps offer some features you don't get by connecting your NDSU Microsoft account to the native "Mail" and "Calendar" apps on your smartphone or tablet.

I downloaded and installed the Outlook app for iOS on my iPad mini and, after some confusion due to mistyping my password repeatedly, was able to get logged in by choosing "Exchange" when prompted, and entering my full NDSU email address and password. There was no need for defining the "server" or touching any of the other advanced options you may have had to use to set up your NDSU email on your phone or tablet in the past. The set up of the Outlook app on my Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S4) was identical to the setup on my iPad, right down to the same delay due to my bad typing skills.

As soon as I opened the apps, I was taken in by the look and feel. They are definitely an improvement over the the generic mail apps on iOS and Android.

Outlook App Email on AndroidThe Outlook apps automatically separate your messages into 2 tabs, "Focused" and "Other." Important e-mails are supposed to be shown under the "Focused" tab. The apps did a pretty good job of that for me right from the start. I did find a few important emails under the "Other" tab, but it was easy to move them to "Focused" by opening the message, touching the menu icon and choosing "Move to Focused Inbox." The app asked me if I just wanted to move the message or to move it and create a rule that would put all future messages from that sender in the "Focused Inbox." As you move messages back and forth between "Focused" and "Other," the app will start to learn which types of messages are important to you.

The apps also feature the ability to "schedule" a message, which means you can delay it, scheduling it to return to the top of your inbox at a time of your choosing. This is great for managing those messages that are important to you, but you can't deal with them right away. By swiping left to right on a message, you can choose to "schedule" it to return to your inbox in a few hours, in the evening, the next day or at a custom time. Being able to interact with messages by swiping is a major feature of the new Outlook apps. By quickly swiping right to left on a message you can archive it. By swiping right to left a little more slowly, you can delete it.

I'm still exploring the apps, but one of my favorite features is access to the calendar from inside the Outlook app. Microsoft is also talking up the ability to easily insert links to files from Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive and Box.

Overall, I think the new apps are a big improvement over just connecting your NDSU Microsoft account to the "Mail" and "Calendar" apps on your iOS or Android devices. You can download the apps for free (see the links at the top of this article). Give them a try, and let me know what tips and tricks you discover.

UPDATE: I just came across this excellent post from ProfHacker, "Outlook for iOS and Android: An Email App Administrators and Staff Will (Really!) Love," with more information of the features of the new Outlook apps.

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

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Tips for Long Forms

Ever get invited to complete an online registration or application but eventually you don’t submit it because it was just too many questions? People tend to have very short attention spans these days, especially when online. It’s always a good idea to make your survey as concise as possible, without of course compromising the data you really do need to collect.

Sometimes however, long forms are inevitable. I recently worked with a specialist who was using Google Forms for an online grant application. She narrowed down the questions as best she could, but really needed to ask quite a few to collect all the data that would be used to decide the grant's winner.

Here’s a few tips to help people through a long form:

1. Let them know what they’re getting in to.
Tell them upfront “This form has x # of questions and will take around x minutes to complete”. They might've started your form on their form in a waiting line but then dropped of when they got to the head of the line and completely forgot to go back to your form.

2. Add a progress bar on your form to let them know how far along they are in the process. Google forms and Qualtrics allow progress bars. Here's how you set it up in Google Forms:

progress bar in Google forms

 

3. Along the same lines, number your questions so they can see exactly where they are in the process.

4. Break up sections of your form by either using headers or page breaks. Let’s say you’re taking training registration. The first section of the form could be “Contact information” and ask for first name, last name, company name, job title, business address, phone and email. The second section could be “Training sessions” they want to attend.  The third session could be “Meal Preferences”. Breaking up each section should be a little easier for the form taker to digest.

section or page break in google form

Let me know if you need help making long forms less painful.

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

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Images as emails are not user-friendly

When creating an email, it’s important not to have an image as the message because people may not be able to view it. Some emails come through where the message is an inserted picture as the message, vs. typed text in the body of the email.

The email client on the desktop may not allow you to download images, or the sender may not be on your safe sender’s list. Have you ever seen a blank email that prompts you to “Click here to download images?" That can be a problem because every extra step you make someone take to open a message is a risk in losing them. Delete.

Same goes for mobile. According to Litmus, 43% of all email opens were on a mobile device. That was of August 2013. Surely that nummobile no nober has risen by now as the adoption of mobile devices steadily increases. Look how this message displayed on my phone. There is no way to view the message. Delete.

It’s every emailer's dream to have the audience complete the call to action or share with others to increase your audience. Let’s say you were able to view this email because the sender is on your safe sender's list. But what if you wanted to share this email with someone else? Regardless of whether they open on mobile or desktop, they could run into the same problems because their settings may be different than yours. That's another lost chance to get your message across.

The desktop version of the email has a link that is underlined but not hyperlinked, so you're not taken any where by clicking on it. This is very confusing for the audience. I’m not even able to copy and paste the link into a browser to see where they want me to go. There’s probably not many people that are going to take the time to check out that URL by having to retype the web address. Again, you’re losing a potential “customer” by making it painful for access your information.

For readability purposes, it’s best to use text in your email to assure your audience can view your message. Don't type up your message and save it as a .jpg or .png and hit send.

 

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

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Creating Images With Canva

Creating images is an important part of online communication. Images make webpages and blog posts more attractive, engaging and shareable. Even creating a social media presence requires Facebook Covers, Twitter Headers and more.

Canva offers an easy to use, drag-and-drop interface for creating all kinds of images. Using their website or iPad app, you can use their templates, design themes, photos and fonts to create your own image.

Here's one I created with one of my own photos and a Canva layout.

An Image Created in Canva

Canva features templates for Facebook Covers, Instagram Posts, photo collages and much more. Once you choose a template, you can build on a blank slate or choose one of Canva's layouts. Like Canva's photos and fonts, some layouts are free and some are available for a small charge, usually $1. If you use elements that aren't free in your design, you'll be asked to pay for them before you can download the image you've created.

There are plenty of elements that are free, allowing you to create some really interesting images at no cost.

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

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Don’t Fall for the Latest Facebook Hoax

A Facebook hoax from 2012 is being recirculated in reaction to recently-announced changes to its privacy settings. You may have seen people posting a “legal” notice that disallows Facebook to use your information or posts.

A snippet:

“By this statement, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and or its content.”

According to snopes.com, this declaration is meaningless:

“While (Facebook) does not technically own its members content, it has the right to use anything that is not protected with Facebook's privacy and applications settings. For instance, photos, videos and status updates set to public are fair game.”

The best way to protect your privacy on Facebook is to adjust your Privacy Settings to your comfort level. You can adjust who sees what, and even what ads you see. For the basics, see the Facebook Privacy page.

So if you see that Facebook post, be sure not to share it. Remember to apply the CRAAP test if you’re not sure about the accuracy of a post.

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

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Mobile-Friendly Sites are Favored by Google

Google recently announced that mobile-friendly websites will stand out in search with labels and possibly, rank.

I tested this out by searching “ndsu ag comm”. Sure enough, mobile-friendly versions ranked higher than the non-mobile-friendly result.

 Screenshot of mobile-friendly search

Ag CMS sites have been mobile-friendly since March 2013. Roger did all the work designing the mobile template and had the foresight to know that more and more users are using the Mobile Web.  

Just take a look at our most recent Google Analytics for all Ag CMS sites:

Mobile analytics table

 

Note that desktop sessions have only grown by 3.67% so far in 2014, but our overall number of sessions is up by 22.5%, mainly due to mobile traffic. We have had nearly 5 times as many mobile sessions already this year than we did all of last year.

Without having to worry about design, you can concentrate on the content. Here’s some tips on writing for the Mobile Web.  

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

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Get notified when somone submits your Google form

More and more Extension and REC staff are using Google forms to collect registrations, evaluations, email addresses for newsletter sign up, and more. Sometimes staff would like to know right away when someone completes a form. For instance, Bob and I have a simple Google form on the Ag CMS homepage that collects information for people who need an Ag CMS login. We like to get these people signed up right away so they are still enthused and also for good customer service. When someone fills out the form, Bob and I get an email notification and we can take the information the person provided and get them set up in ag CMS right away.

Not only can you get email notifications for when a user submits a form, but also changes to your form like if a collaborator was added or if any changes to the spreadsheet were made. You can set the alerts up to come into your inbox once a day, or as-it-happens.

Here's a quick video on how to set up email notifications for Google Forms.

If you need help with setting up notifications, please contact Bob Bertsch or myself.

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

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Multiple Admins for Facebook Pages Are a Must

It's important to have at least one backup "admin" for you office or department Facebook (FB) Page.

Facebook Pages are created through individual Facebook profiles. The person who creates the FB Page becomes the first, and sometimes only, "admin." If a FB Page has only one admin and that person leaves NDSU or deletes their personal Facebook profile, the page may be lost to your department, taking with it all the posts, likes and comments the page has gathered.

To avoid an unfortunate end to your Facebook Page, you just need to make sure your page has multiple admins. Any admin of a FB Page can add an additional admin as long as the new admin has a Facebook account, and they are friends with the original admin on Facebook or the original admin knows the email address associated with the new admin's Facebook account.

If there is no one in your office who can be made an admin for your FB Page, you can add me as an admin for your page using my email address, rjbertsch@gmail.com.

Just login to your Facebook profile and visit the FB Page you want to add an admin to.

Once there, click on the "Settings" tab.
Click "settings" on your facebook page to add admins.

Next, click "Page Roles" in the "Settings" menu.
Click "Page Roles"

Add an admin by beginning to type their name or by typing in the email address associated with their Facebook account. If you are friends with the person you are adding, their Facebook profile should pop-up when you start typing their name. If you are using their email address, just type the full email address.

You will want to set their page role to "Admin." FB Page admins have the same permissions to edit a page as the person who created the page. If you want a true backup in case you leave NDSU or cannot access the FB Page, you'll need to assign someone the role of "Admin." Click "Save" when you are done.
Type in the person's name or email address and assign them the role of Admin.

Once you've added someone to your Facebook Page, they will receive a Facebook notification to let them know.

If you are interested in using the other page roles Facebook provides for giving people access to your page, check out the chart below or visit the Facebook Help Center's "Page Roles" article.
Facebook Page Roles

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

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