Extension educators have been using social media in really creative ways to share the events they are hosting and promote their great work. Social media can also be a valuable educational tool: as a way to share your content with clients.
It’s possible to take your existing content and plans of work, and extend them into social media educational campaigns. You can use a few strategies to convert your educational outreach work into social media, such as working from your slide decks to find smaller bits of information, thinking of how a single image and a few lines of text could teach your audience, and recording simple headshot-videos of yourself to share your information.
When creating content for an educational social media campaign, you should work to make your posts:
Direct: Get to the point right away. Share the most important information right up front, in the clearest way possible. There’s no need for introductions, qualifications, branding, or other superfluous information.
Concise: Distill your point into small, easy to understand nuggets of information. Simplify, simplify, simplify. If your point can’t be made quickly, consider breaking it apart into a series of smaller individual points.
Appealing: Catch people’s attention, and set yourself apart from the flood of information in a feed. You could do this through an eye-catching visual, a bold statement, or some other surprising element.
Particularly for educational purposes, your social media posts can also be enticing and lead viewers to a place where they can learn more. Direct them to a web page, a written guide, a video, a book, an event sign up page, or some other destination where you can harvest their attention from that seed you planted on social media.
But how do you actually make that happen? Here’s how!
Steps for making social media:
Review existing materials Collect any current presentations, handouts, or guides on the topic at hand.
Identify individual points of interest Find any practical tips or applicable knowledge that can stand on their own, without much context.
Simplify ideas and concepts Workshop your ideas so that they can be delivered easily and succinctly. Experiment with different words, visual aids, and presentation until you feel your point is made without too much extra fluff. Pass it by someone else in your target audience to see if they get the point.
Package the information Present ideas in a way that plays to your strengths. Are you better at public speaking, graphic design, writing, or video production? Find the format that works best for your skills.
Publish consistently Social media is a game of persistence. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time for your audience to find you.
Interact with others Find ways to engage on social media to develop mutually beneficial relationships. You can re-share content from other creators (with credit), comment on posts, answer questions, tag others, collaborate on posts, etc. This helps make your own content more visible.
What this Can Look Like: One Extension Specialist’s Educational Campaign
With a growing need for mental health resources in a post-pandemic world, we used these steps to create a campaign that delivers mental health resources in a social media-friendly format. Here’s how:
Extension family and child development specialist Dr. Karim Martinez gives in-person and online training to help people to manage their mental health. She has a suite of powerpoint presentations to go with it.
Dr. Martinez went through her presentations and selected key topics (choosing the most practical tips) using the criteria of “direct, concise, and appealing.” From her own experience talking about these topics during presentations, she wrote some basic scripts for delivering these ideas. We practiced and workshopped the scripts until Dr. Martinez was comfortable speaking about them on-camera. Over the course of a few days, we made short “talking head” videos appropriate for TikTok or Instagram Reels. In addition to videos, we created infographics using Canva that deliver the same points in a different format.
Using social media scheduling tools, new videos and infographics show every week on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. We also partnered with NMDA and the NM Farm and Livestock Bureau to re-share this content, and tagged these posts with the accounts of supporting partners.
This campaign for mental health serves as a model for how campaigns can be created and delivered for educational purposes. As social media formats and trends continue to evolve, these practices may change, so I encourage you to explore new ways of creating content. If you have questions about this process, please feel free to contact me anytime! Jeffrey Buras
Written By: Jeffrey Buras, Social Media Specialist