SLA 2014: Social Media for Everyone: How to Use New Tools in Innovative Ways

by Cheryl Yanek  @cherylkathleen

How? & Things to think about

  • need multiple platforms, to be everywhere, reach everyone
  • need to be selective in what to post where, and use different tones depending on platform
  • keep in mind what your audience is, and demographics of the platform
  • understand different subcultures
  • want to create meaningful relationships
  • think about how to engage i.e. something to be retweeted, discussion on linkedin, picture to share on tumblr, article on G+
  • should you be there?
  • learn the rules of the subcultures
  • trends happen really fast, so you need to be on it from the start
  • might need to educate others so that they understand social media
  • need to stand out & engage
  • about creating community, comment on what others are saying

How to Say It

  • plan to fail
  • be willing to take risks
  • turn your failures into learning situations
  • better for people to be angry (really?!) than
  • write short posts
  • think of your audience as insiders
  • be authentic
  • make it personal
  • make them believe in your mission
  • make it entertaining


  • always look at the demographics


  • texting for kids?
  • share messages
  • examples:
    ** share coupons that had to be used instantly
    ** reveal new product/secret menu item


  • front page of the internet
  • can be upvoted
  • most popular along 18-29 male
  • like things to be transparent
  • self-promotion is frowned upon
  • interact vs. shouting at them
  • others can jump in for you, only need to add where you can
  • a lot of sub-reddits on specific topics
  • don’t promote yourself more than 5-10%
  • might already be community (sub-reddit) that exists where you can fit


  • part blog, part FB
  • blogging but with a lot more media
  • half of users under 25
  • very engaged audience
  • a lot of hashtag use
  • really easy to use
  • FAQs (ask a question feature)


  • way to share pictures
  • 90% under 35
  • 68% are female
  • tell visual stories
  • have a lot of filters that you can play with


  • way to share pictures
  • 84% are female
  • 2/3 over 35
  • what images are worthy of being shared
  • can work together with instagram
  • brand all your images
  • contests


  • most users in 20s
  • 6 second videos
  • potential for how-to videos
  • share successes
  • super easy to use
  • great for contests
  • 4x more likely to be shared than other videos


  • check in to locations
  • share with friends what you’re doing
  • 60% male
  • 60% 18-29
  • very easy to work with
  • share tips
  • when have events, brand and let people check in, can create badges
  • free advertising because normally linked to twitter or fb


  • heavily male
  • what you do on G+ is related to your google search
  • provides higher visibility
  • if make public chats & events, then will show up in search results
  • but they’re always changing things
  • can target certain demographics based on circles

Make Use of It

  • embed
  • share
  • as contact
  • add homepage in information
  • talk about things that are inspiring or relevant

Buzzfeed & Upworthy

  • lists and trends, anyone can create it, promote it
  • about social justice, can’t contribute, but can connect


  • need to measure and track data
  • use both hard and soft metrics
  • what were the topics that got the best reach?
  • what was the sentiment?
  • share highlights and successes internally

Improving Your Current Use

  • listen more, to see what people are talking about, quotes to share, relevant news
  • engage and interact with influencers
  • what social media are being used in different regions?
  • 2-3 posts is the recommended amount, scheduled tweets
  • graphic/embedded posts e.g. thoughtcatalogue
  • don’t do it yourself
  • start bite-sized
  • you can experiment personally first
  • RSS feeds/newsletters to keep on top of trends (see slide)

Ryerson Faculty Conference: Opening Keynote Notes

Teaching and Learning in Socio-technical Networks

Transition to new technology can be hard, but while it can be difficult to learn new technology, there are some positive sides e.g. story of his father getting immediate help when having a heart attack. Continue reading “Ryerson Faculty Conference: Opening Keynote Notes”

Access 2012 Day 1: Ignite Talk – Social Feed Manager

To collect social media data (especially Twitter), researchers are doing this manually (possibly by proxy).


Some paid options to collect the data:

  • DataSift
  • Gnip
  • Topsy

Friendly, but not cheap, and more than what we need. Still need tools to collect, process, etc.

What researchers ask for:

  • specific users, keywords
  • historic time periods
  • basic values: user, date, text, counts
  • delimited files to import

We can do this free with APIs.

Built Social Feed Manager with features

  • Users by Item Count with temporal graphs
  • Details on user
  • can export to CSV files
  • hashtag queries by 10 minutes
  • search function with 1000

Free on github

  • python/django
  • user timelines, filter, sample, search
  • simple display with export for user timelines

Leaves out:

  • historical tweets
  • tweets beyond last 3200

By @dchud

More notes on the Access 2012 live blog.

WordPress Plugin: Publicize or Automatically Post to Facebook & Twitter

So, I recently discovered the WordPress Jetpack plugin set, which does a lot of the things I had previous looked for WordPress plugins to do, including custom css, share buttons, and extra widgets you’ll find on the .com version. The only thing I really wanted that was missing, was the “Publicize” feature to post to social media, such as Twitter.


The one requirement I had was that one plugin should be able to post to multiple social networks instead of having separate ones for each social network. This mostly has to do with making it easier to use and maintain. While we only need Facebook and Twitter right now, we may need others in the future, especially something like G+, so I preferred to already have something installed instead of having to find yet another plugin later.


  • Network Publisher: This plugin probably supports the most social media sites and even includes stats. I didn’t actually really test this one because it required signing up for an API key. From the plugin page, it seems to at least work though.
  • SocialPublish: This one also required creating an account, but I still don’t understand why this is necessary.
  • NextScripts Social Network Auto Poster & WP-AutoSharePost: These required setting up apps on each of the sites, which is fine but not what I was looking for.
  • Social by MailChimp: This only does Twitter and Facebook, which was my minimum requirement, but it works. Not the nicest interface ever, but I like that you can edit the messages individually before they’re posted. I disabled the comment display, so I’m not sure how well that works, but it’s not something we wanted.

So in the end, Social was the only that did what I wanted easily (i.e. without all the dev apps stuff) and without the requirement of creating an account elsewhere first. Still need to properly test it on a multisite setup, but it’s the closest thing I can find to WordPress’ Publicize.

UPDATE: WordPress JetPack now includes Publicize! Yay~

Ryerson Faculty Conference: Students’ View on Academic Social Media Use Panel

Some notes from the panel, which consisted of three presenters/moderators and a group of 5 students.

Some Statistics on Technology Use Among RU Students

  • 42% smartphone users used their devices for academics
  • 78% own smartphone
  • 20% integrated seamlessly into classroom environment
  • 50% institution uses technology effective
  • 39% institution needs more technology

Above averages over all students in survey (except the last, which is below).

What Social Media Do You Use for Class Work?

The theme seemed to be convenience in many comments:

  • Use Facebook for IM + file exchange
  • always there, goes straight to smartphone
  • In FB, easy to separate people into groups
  • use Google Apps for docs, calendar, etc.
  • Twitter more convenient than email
  • email is the easiest way to submit assignments

Why do you prefer Social Media outlets instead of the CMS?

  • doesn’t crash
  • user friendly
  • more real world
  • connect outside of classroom
  • inconsistent look and functions e.g. discussion not always enabled
  • habit – already using Twitter/FB before entering university

What Changes Would You Like To See?

  • more consistent use of CMS
  • possible integration into social media
  • possible notifications (though some consider it to just add to the “noise”)
  • automated audio/video capture to be posted for later reference

Faculty also expressed concerns not only on the time commitment needed in an attempt to engage students with different social media outlets, but also privacy. Students, however, said they were more likely to use the CMS if it was more user friendly, had more options, more consistently used, and most importantly, that expectations were clearly outlined.

How Hard Can Finding a WordPress Plugin Be? Part 2: Custom CSS & Social Media Sharing

Sadly, this was also harder than I expected. Honestly, in this case, the only requirement I had was that it worked.

Custom CSS Plugin

I tested a lot of plugins (pretty much every one I could find), many of which didn’t work and were simply incompatible with the newest version of WordPress. Here are some that worked:

  • My Custom CSS – I liked that it colour codes and has line numbers, but it broke when I got over 700? lines. New classes that I added would be empty. I’m also not a fan of the fact that it just adds it at the top of the page instead of as an external file.
  • Custom CSS Manager – Pretty much exactly like My Custom CSS, but I haven’t broken it. Still unhappy that it doesn’t load an external file instead though.
  • Your Custom CSS – Simple, but seems to work just fine, even puts your code into an external file, which I like. Didn’t test it to 500+ lines though like I did with the previous ones.
  • Best Custom CSS – Works fine, can edit CSS files through built-in WP editor, only doing it that way isn’t very intuitive. It also presets CSS files instead of allowing you to set your own unfortunately.
  • Site Specific CSS – Turns out, most CSS plugins only work in a single site since they write to an external file and the plugin always calls the same external file. Since we’re running a Multi-Site install, I ended up with the site specific CSS plugin. It’s simple (all it does is load a CSS file you link to), but it works! Since it’s just a link, you have to edit the files externally or put it into your theme root folder (or plugin folder) to edit it in the built-in editor.

I rejected a couple of CSS plugins that seem to be no longer in development (such as Custom CSS) even if they (mostly) work and I used a combination of how recent there has been an update and whether developers responded to forums posts as a criteria.

Social Media (Twitter, Facebook) Sharing Plugins

On the upside, it was quite easy to find a social media sharing plugin that worked. I did have a couple of requirements for this:

  • Facebook and Twitter required
  • Share buttons (not sidebar widgets) at the bottom of each post (but not pages)
  • Have to be able to turn off the display of shares counters

I didn’t test a lot of them since I found a couple that work, and I was happy with one in particular. Here are the results:

  • Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus One Share Buttons – Works, but does not have as many options the other plugins. I also didn’t like the counters showing above instead of next to the buttons, which would be more compact.
  • Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus One Social Share – This one works great and has a lot of options including a floating box of the share buttons. The problem I had with this one is that you have more than one row of buttons, it goes beyond the div because of the display setting. I reported it, but didn’t feel like hacking it, so I went with the last one.
  • Really Simple Facebook Twitter Share Buttons – This one works great, plus it lets you reorder buttons, and set the width spacing. While the more-than-one-row behaviour isn’t ideal, it works. It also has a via username for twitter. It even comes with a shortcode and selective exclude method.

I’m open to suggestions on better plugins of either, especially CSS ones (for single and multi-site). Next might be form management, but if I can’t find a good free one, I might simply suggest paying for GravityForms (since it’s a one time payment).

UPDATE: Of course, then I finally find out about Jetpack almost all of which is free, including Custom CSS and Sharing. The only downside is that you need a account, and I am not connecting my personal account to work sites.

Reflections on Communities through Collaborative Tools in the Government of Canada

With only two weeks left and after last night’s meetup, I thought I’d reflect a little on some of the Government of Canada (GC) initiatives I’ve been part of over the term that are outside of my assigned projects, most of which are fairly recent or new.

Young Professionals Network Committees

Admittedly, this is a departmental (not GC) group, but it’s worth a mention.

Many departments (if not most) have a Young Professional Network (even if not by that name). YPN has committees to organize events as well as other work to support staff at the department. I sat on and contributed to:

  • Retention and Renewal Report, another survey is going out to validate the results
  • Student Committee, where we’re currently trying to develop a new orientation guide for students in the department
  • Spend a Day with Senior Management, a job shadow event which has been approved by the YPN sponsor ADM

Contributing to the committees has been a good experience. It allowed me to meet other people working in different sectors and has given me a sense of accomplishment and contribution towards the department even if I’m not here to see the results.

Wiki Community of Practice – WikiCoP

My understanding is that my coworker started wikicop about a year ago in order to have people in the GC community meet every 1-3 months and share ideas, knowledge, and experience on their internal wikis as many departments are developing or have them now. Although I only got the chance to attend a couple, it was great to see what other departments were doing with their wikis and to participate in the discussions. I also got a chance to see a couple of the ways Confluence was being used, which was neat.


The GC wiki, GCPEDIA, is a great place for GC staff to share information GC-wide without making it public. There is a lot of great stuff including draft strategies, guidelines, and start up initiatives surrounding all aspects including social media and web usability. I didn’t actually take part in sharing much information, but I have been helping with maintenance. Most of it is day-to-day stuff like fixing broken/double redirects, categorizing pages/files, and page clean ups, but I have also:

  • participated in a wikibee (essentially you do a big clean up as a group in person) for UXWG (User Experience Working Group)
  • been helping with the migration to a new and much improved National Inventory of Bridgeable Students [internal link]

Doing wiki maintenance has helped me learn more about the different departments and what goes on in GC. I also got to know a few people through doing wiki maintenance and participating in the 2011 Best User Page Contest. It was lots of fun!

I think that’s one of the things that makes GCPEDIA interesting to work on. The very active (more permanent) people have been very encouraging (i.e. @jesgood and C. Au) and people will do little things to increase the sense of community and enjoyment, namely by making fun user boxes. I got a green belt/experienced contributor award (basically it’s a level up system based on how much you contribute to GCPEDIA), the 5th level, which I think is pretty decent for a single summer.

Web 2.0 Practioners – W2P

It’s kind of funny, because I avoided Twitter for the longest time. I didn’t think I’d have much use for it, and it just seemed like another social media platform, especially since I don’t have a phone with internet and lacked a laptop for the longest time, I didn’t see how I’d get involve with any conversation.

I was pushed onto twitter because of work. It helped that I got tweetdeck installed. Regardless, I was somewhat surprised by how much of day-to-day sharing between GC employees involved twitter. I shouldn’t have been, but then I used to work at an agency where you had no internet access.

It’s been a great source of keeping up with GC Web/technology news, finding interesting reads, and resources. But most of all, #w2p really taught me what a great community can be built through twitter. It’s been a rare experience for me to simply show up and be so welcomed into a group of veritable strangers. Being a little nervous about going by myself to my first #w2p meet, I was encouraged by many #w2p members most memorably by @spydergrrl (for various reasons includind the fact that she was a co-host). At the meet, I ended up chatting mostly with @mhellstern who introduced me to lots of other people. It was great.

The proof that #w2p can just suck you in (in a good way) is how involved I got. After only two meetups, I ended up co-hosting last night’s meet up. Thanks to @macjudith and her discussions with a friend, the meetup’s theme was to meet the (bridgeable) students of #w2p and I cohosted with @mhellstern (I didn’t even know she was a bridgeable student!). Each student/recent graduate got a couple of minutes to introduce themselves and “sell” themselves just a little bit. We had a great turn out, plus as always, great conversations and stories. I got to finally put a few more faces to twitter nicknames, especially the ones from my department! Not least of all, it meant I got to add another userbox to my GCPEDIA user page (see the fun?).

I will definitely miss #w2p, because unless I get a position in the area in the future… well, it’s not unknown that getting a group together like this outside the NCR can be difficult since this is where most GC staff work and where a lot of this type of work is done since this is where all the “headquarters” are located.

Sense of Contribution, Engagement, Belonging, and Community

I’ve frequently heard people on contract talk about how they don’t in any way feel connected to their department, or the government, especially as a student when you may conceivably never return in, but I didn’t get that feeling thanks to joining #w2p and other groups. There are of course so many different ways to get involved and to find out what’s going on in the GC world, and these are but a few examples, so I encourage GC staff, especially students to get involved; it doesn’t matter that it’s only for a short time, and newbies are welcomed!

Creating a Twitter Search, Hashtag, User, Favorites or List RSS Feed

[Update August 20, 2014] – I’ve not actually tried this, but found a new article on How to Create RSS Feeds in Twitter using Google Script.

[Update March 4, 2013] – As of March 5th, 2013, twitter will no longer support unauthenticated feeds of any kind and will be dropping support for RSS altogether (meaning you can only get JSON feeds). Therefore, you will need to make your own (see comments for one suggestion) or use an app to follow specific feeds. Continue reading “Creating a Twitter Search, Hashtag, User, Favorites or List RSS Feed”