Extension reaches out through social media

MISSISSIPPI STATE — Mississippi State University Extension Service is expanding its presence through an increased use of social media to provide information to the public.

Extension offices are already physically located in all 82 counties in the state, but residents of Mississippi and beyond can also follow Extension news and activities through a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

Choctaw County native Ellen Graves joined MSU’s Office of Agricultural Communications as a social media strategist on Aug. 19. She has plans to expand social media outreach efforts to other platforms, including Instagram, Pinterest and Vine.

Graves described herself as passionate about social media and using it to share news. She has a wide range of experience working with social media at local newspapers and businesses.

“Social media is another way for us to reach a variety of groups with information they need,” Graves said. “It’s not just about having more followers; it’s about reaching specific audiences with information that is appropriate for them.”

Elizabeth Gregory North, head of MSU Agricultural Communications, said Graves is a perfect fit for the newly created position. A recent journalism graduate from the University of Mississippi and the daughter of a sweet potato consultant, Graves brings an agricultural background and a Generation X perspective to the table.

“As the numbers of people using social media continue to expand, we want Extension to remain an authority they trust for advice and education,” North said. “By having a person focused on this effort, we will be able to maintain a connection between MSU and our communities, especially when needs develop on short notice. We also will be able to support the many Extension employees who are already reaching clients through social media by helping them to gain even more visibility for their efforts.”

Graves recently took part in a Legislative Wild Hog Summit in Jackson, where she used Twitter to share comments made by presenters with people who could not attend in person. To help users follow along with the tweets during the meeting, she used the hashtags #MSExt, #WildHogSummit and #wildhogfacts.

“The summit was the first time we live tweeted a meeting, but we will be doing that more in the future as topics of statewide interest occur,” she said. “We want to find creative ways to reach people.”