Category Archives: Ramblings

Surveying Soil and Social Media?

I knew I would find soil fascinating, so I decided to take a night class titled “The Living Soil“.  I was also interested in learning about soil so that when the inevitable zombie apocalypse strikes I may be able to plant some food for my dear family and the few remaining survivors. Currently I’m just a serial killer of plants and fail to keep the sturdiest of them alive.

A few weeks ago we had our first soil field trip and I was able to get more hands-on with a stream bed and some soil-y colleagues. We were each instructed to attempt to identify different horizons as well as the texture, color and structure of a small area of soil in Maryland.  It was mucky, interesting, and I felt like I was guessing a lot of the time. But in learning how to survey soil, I was reminded how similar it is to surveying social media and how each site offers different aspects with a unique function.

In soil, you determine physical properties by examining the:

  • Structure: (type, size and grade)
  • Texture: (percentage of sand, silt and clay)
  • Porosity: (air and water space)
  • Color: (hue, value and chroma of the soil)

It’s very easy, because soil scientists and people surveying  soil can reference any number of information sites and decide how to address the next step. But what if someone is curious about using social media? There’s no obvious key. People have to swim around in the social space and copy their competitors.

If we had to decide on how to determine the attributes of social media sites that we would need to survey I would say:

  • Structure: Profiles, Groups, Pages
  • Texture: Friendly, Intellectual or Marketing Heavy
  • Intensity: How often must you check it? How much does it take to update it?
  • Design: How user friendly is it?

Keeping in mind that I’ve only had a few moments to think about this,  I think sites like Twitter would be the topsoil and sites as built out as Ning would be the bedrock. But maybe I should just get back to studying…

5 Social Ways to Help National Wildlife Federation’s Oil Spill Work

1) Become a fan of Perry Ellis on Facebook:
For every “like” on their Project Beach tab on Facebook, Perry Ellis will donate $1 to NWF’s  Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund.

Keith Powell2) Donate through Keith Powell: I’ve been watching Keith every chance I can get on “30 Rock” and so I was thrilled to see he was using social media to help wildlife. If you choose to donate through Keith’s fundraising page, he may make an awesomely hilarious video confessing his love for you and making you laugh on the side. Pretty kind of him to do and a clever way for him to raise funds for the oil spill! Be sure to check out his Youtube videos as they are too hilarious to miss.

3) Donate Your Tweets: With you can volunteer a tweet a day to any nonprofit organization that has an account. We’ve been using it to spread oil spill information but haven’t tweeted from it every day (more like every few weeks). It’s a great way to help us if you’re comfortable with us updating your followers with oil spill information!

4) Use a URL Shortener: Through a service called edeems,  you can now shop or  shorten a link all while helping the oil spill work we’re doing. Go to . Whether your just looking to browse items or you’re looking to shorten a link you’re about to tweet…these are two clever and painless ways to help wildlife.

5) Join Our Tweet-athon:
By teaming up with Promojam, the National Wildlife Federation has been able to launch its first Tweet-athon! If you’re not really interested in giving a tweet a day, but would like to spread the word, feel free checking out this application that allows you to tweet with only a few clicks!

Tracking Oil Spill Content with Social Media

Since I work for the National Wildlife Federation, I’ve been spending 99.9% of my day thinking  about the oil spill and all the ways we can help.

Personally, I’d love nothing more than to hop on a plane and fly down to the gulf to clean some birds or monitor some water ways, but the truth is, the best way I can help is make sure people KEEP talking about the oil spill so the media KEEPS covering it.

That’s why we’re asking people to use social media to share information about the oil spill and give a voice to what’s happening in the Gulf.

We’re compiling a lot of it on our Tweetmixx page.

Our web team has done a great job of keeping our work and content up on our site. Because of this, I get the job of monitoring when and where we are being mentioned. By using my listening dashboard, I can see that people are sharing our content, but sometimes I want to know more! I want to know where they are sharing it the most and why.

[Figure 1: Our analytics for the first month of the Oil Spill]

The positive thing about social media, is that we can track when people share content! And of course, while the data in this graph is several months old, we’re seeing most of our traffic and sharing coming from Facebook. –> What does this tell me?

There are many website tools you can use to analyze social sharing activities and tracking where people are likely to share your content can guide your outreach and help you better equip your readers. But all of this would be useless if we don’t LEARN from it and change. The point that we need to take away from these analytics is that we MUST feature Facebook as a way of sharing and make it as easy for readers as possible to share with Facebook.

When I talk about this at the National Wildlife Federation, I like to stress the importance of giving a microphone to your current audience. Sharing content and making information easy to disperse is especially important when disasters like the BP oil spill happen, because we can better equip our audiences to become the messengers for events that need attention.

This oil spill disaster is on all of our minds, but I’m hopefully going to work to make it easy for you to get the information you’re interested in hearing… also, I’ll try and throw in funny things to offset the sadness that we all feel.

Technology and Wildlife – My Two Loves

Nature is my playgroundUntil recently I’ve put off starting a personal blog because I wanted to nurture  NWF’s blog, But more writing couldn’t hurt, right?

I absolutely love both technology and wildlife and so I’m going to make this blog about both. It’s a strange combination but I’ve always wanted to be a naturalist and more and more social media is making the web seem like an unknown ecosystem.  So many new tools and species to cover. I’m looking forward to the challenge.  But in no way can I do it alone!