The Wild Life of Social Media and Content Strategy

I was honored to present a workshop and keynote at the J.Boye Conference about using social media to enhance your content strategy. The incredibly intelligent and savvy web users from all over the globe that attended this conference taught me a few new tricks for improving the way we work online to better engage with our constituents. From improving usability, creating a customer experience people actually want to engaging with generation y, all gave me new information to chew on and digest.

Janus Boye and Danielle BrigidaAside from using the digital ecosystem to reach new people, engage better with customers, build out higher quality services, and expand how people use technology and engage with entities, they also let me geek out about wildlife and how we’re exploring using technology to create a more transparent and responsive approach for our Government agency.

I also wrote about how we’re expanding on successful interactions can create a more enriching experience and give people more context. We hope we can make use of the way people use social media to inform and arm those with the facts they find interesting. As we continue to learn more about how we can serve as a resource, it’s incredibly important to go to conferences like this one to learn best practices across many entities.

Trail Guide for Facebook – Tips and Tricks

Trail guideFacebook is constantly changing, but in recent talks with them, it’s apparent that some things are working better than others.

  1. Be Social – Tag other pages, share other people’s content, like other pages and get comfortable using your page like a profile on Facebook. When you do take the time to post, nurture comments and discussion on the post.
  2. Post More Video -Videos are doing well on Facebook’s algorithm right now, and our videos of wildlife would be no exception. Please encourage the use of the *USFWS logo on the video and captioning if there are any words spoken*. Whatever video that’s taken on Facebook should also be posted to our Youtube account so that we make the content as accessible as possible.
  3. Post Often – Quality should come before quantity, but posting often gives you more of a chance to reach more people.
  4. Play with the Platform – Sometimes text heavy posts perform well but if there’s a call to action, keep things short. The best advice is to play with the platform and strive to be different.
  5. Consider Driving Traffic to Our Site – Instead of creating Facebook events- why not share a link to the place to register on our website? Don discussed the benefits of making it easy for people and sending them where we want them to go on our site.
  6. Learn More About Your Audience – Good social media means knowing your audience, and Facebook allows you to do so even using the ad manager even if you aren’t creating an ad. First, go here, then make sure under  “People Connected” make sure you’ve selected the page you want to know more about. Otherwise you can use this link to analyze Facebook’s user base.
  7. Merge Duplicate Pages- It has been available to us for some time to merge pages, recognizing that you lose things from the page you merge into the other.

When Posting Images…

  • Use Square Photos – The images from Facebook show up better as a landscape rather than portrait style (Around 940px by 788px)
  • With Graphics, Use Less than 20% Text – Text heavy images get ignored by users, so just be sure to follow the rule of using less text.
  • Upload Multiple Images – Instead of creating an album on Facebook, Facebook suggested uploading multiple images as a good technique. *Just please encourage a credit by any field staff so we have proper documentation*.** For USFWS staff

Create Facebook Interest Lists to Listen and Stay Organized

Facebook interest lists
As someone who is constantly trying to break the social tools I use to get people thinking about wildlife, Facebook’s ability to create interest lists has been an incredibly effective way for me to keep tabs on a variety of subjects.

What is a Facebook Interest List?
The simple answer is that an interest list is a collection of pages or profiles on Facebook. By creating lists, Facebook allows you to organize and have some control over posts you see other than the standard algorithm they decide for you. When you group pages or subject matter experts, they call them interest lists and this allows you to see timely updates from pages that are part of the lists you follow.
List of USFWS pages

How do you create one?
Most of the lists I have created are collecting pages that represent subject matter experts, an interest or offer resources around wildlife. Creating a list for your own personal or professional needs is quite simple and really the first step is having an idea of what you’d like to include in your list.

You don’t even have to “like” a page to add it to an interest. So technically, you can watch and observe posts from pages that you don’t want to publicly like through these lists.

After you’ve created your lists, they will appear in your “bookmarks” section on the left hand side of your home feed.

Searching Facebook InterestsSearch through Facebook interests.
If you’re looking to create lists that can serve as a resource for others, consider creating a public interest list that others can follow (very similar to the public lists on Twitter). You can also search for subjects and follow other public lists if you don’t want to create your own.

While the list has actually been out for several years, I feel like it is often a forgotten tactic in managing and listening on Facebook. Twitter lists are another similar resource, and I’ve found that by grouping by passion or subject, you can keep tabs on the conversations while being apart of a larger conversation.

Sample lists I’ve made:

This may surprise you, most of my lists deal with wildlife. But you can make a list that collects and organizes any of your favorite pages that post updates you like. Have you ever used an interest list? If so, what was it?

Thank You for 8 Incredible Years at National Wildlife Federation


After 8 years of building up NWF’s social communities, I have decided to leave to help run the social entities at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I wanted to share with my beloved online friends what I shared with my colleagues at National Wildlife Federation– as much of the words ring true for the people I worked with while I was there.

NWF Social Media Update Q2 2013So, to all of my nonprofit techies and counterparts, to the incredible coalitions, partners and groups I’ve had the pleasure to work with, and for the absolutely amazing and inspiring group of NWF supporters I’ve gotten to know over the years, please read these words and know how grateful I am. I will continue to pledge to do the best work I can for both the communities and wildlife.

Thank you all for being wonderful to work with for wildlife.. I’m looking forward to working hard at USFWS to make a difference.


To My Dearest NWF Family,

I gave serious consideration to writing a “goodbye tweet” instead of email, but the truth is, I have loved this place for so long that 140 characters isn’t going to cut it.

My last day at NWF will officially be October 29th. That being said, I will continue being an avid fan and NWF supporter in my personal life until the end of my days.

The truth is, working for NWF had always been my dream job since childhood and I’m incredibly honored and humbled by what I was able to accomplish while I was here, with the help of all of you. You’ll get more details in one of my lengthy quarterly reports (coming soon)— but we’ve made impressive strides blending fun content, our mission and the passion of people online to see real results and learn valuable lessons. I’ve learned so much about each facet of how we do business here thanks to the 14 bosses, 4 departments and 6 job descriptions I’ve had since I started back in 2006. I look forward to following the future growth of NWF and hope to work with all of you at some point in the future.

I’m not going far. Starting November 3rd, I will be working at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

I thought it only appropriate that I write a blog for you all about what I loved about this place and what I will miss.

5 Reasons I’m Thankful for the National Wildlife Federation

1. The People: You are the smartest, most talented and hilarious colleagues a person could ask for. I have always loved wildlife, but it’s impossible to work for NWF and not love the people too. You all do incredible work and should feel validated daily by the strides you are making for wildlife. The amount of work people do in this organization is astounding and you should be proud of that. I feel so fortunate I got to work with everyone from regional staff, affiliates, partners, board members and more to figure out how we all could use social media for wildlife. I loved that the online world reminded us that we weren’t so far apart after all.

2. The Incredible Office Building: –HQ

The HQ building served as a constant reminder why I work here and not some for-profit muckity muck :). It was behind our building I spotted my first pileated woodpecker cavity nest, noticed dwarf ginseng in impressive numbers and spent hours observing for wood frogs, box turtles and various snake species (I’ve seen 6) as I thought through our social strategy and how to bring offline-online. I took walks with Craig Tufts and spent time investigating trees and noticing nuances during various check-ins or after rigorous meetings. This building has been a source of inspiration and a great reminder as to why we have to create a space for wildlife in every day life to be happy.

3. You Let Me Try Out New Ideas – My job as a social media nutcase got grounding back in 2006 when Kristin Johnson gave me control over our Myspace page with 25 friends. The rest is history— we are now well over 1 million fans and followers across platforms. It takes an amazing organization to accommodate a change in the way NWF did for someone like me. It is because of this our work is mentioned in dozens of books and hundreds of articles around our leadership in social media. As many of you know, I present about 25 times a year about using social media and NWF was always incredibly supportive and a true thought leader amongst nonprofits in this realm. I am impressed with any place that adjusts to changing times. I will certainly miss how innovative this place is!


4. I Got To Make Friends for a Living – This one is pretty self-explanatory, but one of the best social media concepts I learned while at NWF is to treat social media supporters just like your friends. That means- banish the use of the phrase “PUSH IT OUT” and think of connecting with people on social media as making new friends. My job at NWF taught me how to never forget that real people are behind social media handles and that if you treat them with respect and communicate with them in ways they want to be talked to— you can empower so many.

5. The Mission: All for Wildlife – I’m so grateful I got to communicate on wildlife issues in funny ways, serious ways, and informational ways, all while experimenting and working with our programs and initiatives to introduce our work to our online supporters. We were constantly working to make our work more relevant and approachable. I am so honored I got to hold a position where I had an excuse to talk about amazing wildlife and ecosystems.

You all are in fantastic hands with Dani Tinker when it comes to social media as she’s been an astounding help when it comes to community engagement and content creation. I’ll be around through the end of the month so please reach out if you need anything. Looking forward to staying in touch.
Double Dare-1

All for Wildlife,


I promise to stay goofy despite this change. :)


5 Tools for Tracking Hashtags Like #WildlifeWeek

National Wildlife Week is one of NWF’s oldest programs and one of my all time favorites to track. The history of National Wildlife Week is rich and geared heavily toward providing materials for schools and educators to celebrate different wildlife species. It makes for an excellent program for social media and every year I find fun ways to track the reach and engagement. This year– I compiled a few ways I tracked hashtags across platforms. Do you use additional programs? Let me know!

1) Tagboard

Tagboard tracks mentions of hashtags across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Vine and It pulls all of the mentions into one place and allows you to even title the hashtag if you create an account.
#WildlifeWeek on Tagboard

2)Topsy (Both Analytics and Search)

This tool has both pro and free versions and I highly recommend using the free version to do a search on how your hashtag is performing.


I even compared #WildlifeWeek with #NationalWildlifeWeek to see how people used the hashtags.

NWW Topsy

3) HashAtIt

This site shows the hashtag results for the Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and   Hashtag Search


4) Hashtracking

This site allows for free trials so if you’re looking to test something out for tracking purposes it is a good place to start.

5) Tweet Binder

Tweet binder has a number of reports that generate when you use it. From contributor information to number of tweets– this is a very thorough tool for tracking hashtags.

While I didn’t use them this time around- I have used and been happy with Rowfeeder, and a number of other Twitter tracking tools- but this year I tracked with these five. What tools do you track your events with?

Wearable Technology (Not So New for Wildlife…)


Wearable technology is on the rise. I’ve read a number of articles discussing the growing importance of wearable tech with predictions such as  Why Wearable Tech Will Be As Big As the Smartphone”  as well as compilation posts that talk about tech advancements and trends in 2013 or 2014.  It amuses me and can’t help but notice how NOT NEW wearable tech is for wildlife.  It’s been a vital way (although rightfully questioned) that we’ve learned about a number of species since the mid 1960’s. By attaching a device that sends signals to a transmitter, we’ve been monitoring the behaviors of hundreds of species and learned a great deal from the research. There are few basic techniques that we employ to track wildlife. This particular post describes VHF radios in a very helpful manner. Perhaps with the advance of wearable technology we can make it less invasive to our wildlife tracking efforts.

A number of years ago, I was involved in a project that went about attaching “wearable tech” to Townsend’s big-eared bats and we used radio telemetry to  monitor their nightly behavior.  Luckily it doesn’t take this much technology to monitor the activity on my Nike sport’s watch, but you get the idea. Pictured below is the sweet set up I had to track activity on my radio transmitter.
So just remember.
Wearable technology is not new for wildlife. And thank goodness it isn’t.

While I know the tech we force wildlife to wear isn’t as complex as the computers we’re strapping to ourselves, you know what I’m talking about. It’s funny.

What Your Social Strategy Can Learn from Wetland Restoration

Jug Bay Wetlands Restoration deals with restoring the presence of wild rice.
At Jug Bay Wetlands they have worked to restore the presence of wild rice. We can learn so much from wetland restoration planning tactics listed below.

As I’m growing as a naturalist, it’s surprising to me how much of the subject matter deals directly with my work as a communicator for the National Wildlife Federation. In my Wetlands Ecosystems class we went over restoration techniques that truly could offer help for those trying to tackle their social media or communications strategy (in ways you wouldn’t expect).

So– next time you’re planning a project of any kind– I highly recommend checking out the below process and substituting the land management terminology with whatever marketing vocabulary you see working here. I think it’s a helpful reminder of how we lay out projects and goals to achieve a greater mission.


1. Planning
A. Evaluation of the trends and needs of the whole system

  1. Status of the resources
  2. Historic conditions, so you can determine the rates of loss
  3. Define the ecological needs and critical functions
  4. Define the human uses/needs, both social and economic

B. Establish restoration priorities for the whole watershed/estuary and develop goals (Include multiple stakeholders)

C. Develop a framework for implementation that all conducting restoration work agree to follow

2. Project Development
A. Set clear goals for the project that link to regional planning
B. Determine the technology or approach that is most appropriate for the goal and the site
C. Design monitoring that allows you to:

  1. Determine progress of goal
  2. Practice adaptive management (allows midproject corrections)
  3. Export lessons learned- both positive and negative
  4. Contribute to the system-wide monitoring

D. Leverage resources to maximize benefits, including coordinating your project with others that are in the area.


It’s amazing how much this document can apply to planning outside of the restoration sphere. I love the emphasis it places on monitoring and adjusting as you go. So much of the success you have when planning social media (or any project for that matter) comes from coordination as well as considering the whole ecosystem.