I work with units and communities across campus and beyond. Sometimes I partner with them on a couple items, sometimes questions are brought to me and I never hear back about what worked (or didn’t). There is quite a range of involvement and activities! Often communities or groups that are more focused on academic products and outcomes have a sense of reluctance about engaging in social media. The most frequently stated concerns are:
1 – “I don’t have the time.” (or don’t see the value of putting my time here)
2 – “What if someone else takes my stuff?” (losing control of your content/message/brand identity)
3 – “What if someone says bad things about me/us? Or someone comments and someone else thinks I said that?” (losing control of your reputation, otherwise known as, “I don’t want to look funny!”)
#3 is fairly easy. If people want to say bad things about you, they will anyway. If they say it in your space, at least you know they’ve said it, and then you have a great opportunity to be the better person, and show your competence, intelligence, compassion and grace. Not to mention that as often as not, if a detractor pipes up in your space, your friends and admirers will often resolve the problem before you have a chance to figure out what you want to say.
#2 is even easier. If you’ve put your content in a social media space as well as on your website, then you have staked your claim to that content, associated it in a high profile way with your name or brand, and it is both dated and you’ve sort of reserved your “spot” in the search engine results. If someone else copies your post elsewhere, you still got there first. If you ONLY put your stuff on your website, then if someone else copies it and puts it in a high profile social media space, they just won. Search engine results will find what they put up, and probably list it before your version. The worst (and I’ve seen this a lot) is when someone puts a video or Powerpoint file up on their website. Someone else copies it, edits it to remove the author and institution information, and then puts it up under their own name. It is almost impossible to discover that they’ve done it, and for viewers of that version to discover your version. This is one of the STRONGEST arguments I’ve seen for putting your content in highly visible public spaces early, and often, and then keeping it there! I firmly believe that if you DON’T put your content in visible social media spaces you are at much higher risk of losing control of your content than if you do.
#1 is the real challenge. The message behind #1 is “I don’t see the point” or “I don’t see any value.” If you can truly and honestly address that concern, the other concerns seem to just melt out of the way. Show me the value, and I’ll find time. Show me the value, and I’ll find a way to manage the risk.
For organizations that are really uncomfortable with social media, sometimes it is better if they perhaps start out in a space that is a little less high profile, where things move a little slower, and, if possible, where there is a direct relationship to their professional work. Slideshare fits the bill on all counts, and makes a nice way to slowly and gently break into social media.
It is easier, when I am partnering with a group on a presentation, to sort of break the ice gently, by telling them truthfully that it is routine for me to post my presentations online and that I am encouraged to do so by my management. They will usually consent. Likewise, when I attend professional presentations that use slides I almost always ask if I will be able to find the slides in Slideshare afterwards. Sometimes they say “Sure”, sometimes “No, but I’ll send you a copy if you email me”, and sometimes “What is Slideshare?” (I answer this last as, “Like Youtube for Powerpoint and PDFs.”)
Yesterday, I received a question from one of the organizations I’d worked with some years ago. We’d posted the slides from a joint presentation online, and they’ve been receiving steady use ever since, with occasional requests for permission to use portions of the content. The presentation was on a core mission for the unit, with high quality information of general interest within the field. The usage of the posted slides has gradually built up (from an initial audience of under 30 to thousands of uses in Slideshare) to where we are receiving fairly frequent and steady requests for the content. With each request for the content, I copy the original co-author of the content on any replies and conversation. This resulted in a Q&A that I thought others might find helpful as well. The discussion is posted below, lighted edited for anonymity and clarity.
Seems like we get flurries of requests to use images from the slide show and then nothing for several months. The two last ones came at a less convenient time for me. I should change the slides that have the images where I had to request special permission to use. I should ask the original owners if I may post the slide show there, with the understanding that creative commons licensing is encouraged and we hope they will allow other users to use the slide images in their current low-resolution. I did not post a credit line and I should do that so I can just tell others if they need higher resolution images they will need to seek them from the owners. What do you suggest? Possibly we need to add a page for credits with contact info.
It might be time to remove the slide show from slide share and post a webpage instead. It could be posted to our website under our resources. In that I could include details about how to request larger resolution images.
It would be very helpful for people to sign a guest book on that webpage too to see who is watching it. It would be open to all, this would just allow us to see who the audience is and get stats.
I do worry however, that that webpage might be difficult to find. Ideas, thoughts?
* Yes, there should always be a credit line for the source of the images. We can replace the current version of the slide presentation with an updated version and edit the description to show the date of the update.
* Yes, a credits page for image sources has evolved to be standard best practice now. It wasn’t as common back then, but if we are revising it we should definitely include that. Think of it like writing a paper and including a citation or reference for any quotations. People should do the same thing for pictures or charts, music, audio, videos, etcetera.
* It is a bad thing to remove content from social media sites, as it is generally perceived as an indicator of malfeasance or mistrust on the part of the folks deleting the content. It also breaks links other people pointing to the content, and breaks embeds if people have blogged or commented elsewhere. They won’t thank us for breaking their site. Instead, I would recommend including the content on the website and including a link in the description of the Slideshare presentation directing people to the more complete information on the site.
* Slideshare does provide simple metrics with the free version. I have attached a screenshot of the current metrics for an example presentation. They have more detailed information, but it costs money to get it.
* I like the idea of a guestbook for the web site, but it will backfire if it becomes a barrier to content. It has to be an opt in thing. Again, a pointer from the Slideshare presentation (and other social media presence points) to the web site is the best way to attract people to the website. These days, you are right, that people tend to not go directly to websites, and it is harder to get people there without having engagement spaces. There are other ways to get the information you want – analytics. These can be set up to gather information on your visitors in various other locations.
A. Don’t ever delete content that has gathered attention. That is your SEO, your hook to your site.
B. Instead, expand that content. If something has proven popular on Slideshare, get a copy of it with audio in Youtube as well. Post both to your Facebook page and/or Twitter stream.
C. For both, embed them on your website, and in the Slideshare/Youtube/etc. spaces include links to your website.
D. Update the content and make a new version. Refresh the content in some way. Add a link from the old version to the new version to avoid breaking embeds and to help establish your reputation as an authority who continues to work in the area. Create a Flickr set or gallery with the images from the presentation, and direct people there for licensing information.
E. Use snippets from the presentation in a Twitter or Facebook etc. as quick short “Did you know __?” posts, again linking back to your webpage.
F. Brainstorm! What else can you think of? Once you have content that is taking off and getting good attention, how do you make that work for you (without too much effort on your part)?