Top 4 Rules to Answer ‘How Often Should I Blog?’

How often to blog

For some bloggers, finding topics to write about is really hard for them. Or it takes them a long time to write a blog post. These problems generally lead to the big question every beginning blogger (and probably most expert bloggers, but don’t want to admit it) asks, “How often should I blog?” Below are my four rules for how often to blog.

1. This is content.

The most important thing to remember is that blogging is content (Why Agvocates Need to Take Notes from Chipotle). For this reason, you need to make sure you are posting frequently (at least once a week, at least). Blogging is a great way to tell consumers about agriculture and we should put out as much content as possible about it, but within limitations.

2. How much time do you want to give?

While blogging a lot is important, you need to recognize how much time you can give every week so you can set yourself up for success. If there are weeks where you can post four times a week, but other weeks you can’t post at all, then you are better off spreading out those four posts over those two weeks. Whatever you do, you need to post consistently so your readers can begin to expect how often you are going to blog. Fluxuating the number of posts can also make your blog harder to circulate to the masses.

 3. How long does your blog take to get circulated? 

While you can blog five days a week if you have enough time, I think it is important to think about how long it takes for your blog to get circulated around social media. As you begin blogging, it will take more time for your blog to get circulated in social media. For this reason, don’t jump the gun on posting the next blog until the hoopla about your old post has begun to die down. We sometimes see this a lot in social media where people will post two news-worthy things close together and not maximize the publicity surrounding both items.

4. Know yourself and your blog

In the end, most of these rules deal with how well you know your own capabilities. Make sure to not stress yourself out over your blog. Blogging should be fun and exciting, not something you hate doing every day. For instance, I could be doing my dishes right now, but instead I’m blogging (don’t tell my wife that). In order for your blog to be successful, you need to be yourself, have fun and know your limitations.

Why Agvocates Need to Take Notes from Chipotle

Oh, Chipotle. How I love your burritos. The warm tortilla shell nestles that warm bean and steak mixture. With bountiful amounts of sour cream and guacamole. How ever did you make this meal taste so good…

I think most of us have enjoyed a Chipotle burrito before, but for the last few years, Chipotle has been coming under some fire by some agvocates. It hasn’t been because agvocates have experienced poor service or sub-par food, but rather for the way Chipotle chooses to portray certain segments of agriculture.

scarecrowYou may remember this scarecrow  advertisement created by Chipotle, highlighted by a scarecrow scared of where the food industry was heading. Or the newest Chipotle endeavor making a mockery out of agriculture in a short satirical comedy on Hulu called “Farmed and Dangerous.”

I could sit here and argue about whether these advertisements are truthful, but that is not the reason I think agvocates should be taking notes. You see, the strange part about these advertisements is that they don’t really mention Chipotle. Yes, watch those advertisements again and you will see that there is really no direct mention of Chipotle until the very end.

You are probably thinking what’s the big deal, but in the marketing sector everyone is talking about it. Chipotle is almost revolutionizing the way advertising works. And surprisingly, these tactics are working. People are actually listening and believing what Chipotle has to say because, well, it is “content marketing.”

You may have heard about content marketing, which has been a really big buzz phrase associated with blogging and social media for the last few years. Content marketing is the idea that brands create informational (sometimes controversial i.e. Chipotle) content including blogs, social media and most recently, advertising. The beauty of content marketing is giving a brand a voice on important issues in its industry, leading customers to have a better “relationship” with the brand. Chipotle is using a lot more content marketing in their advertising than a majority of other brands. They are successfully making an advertisement “informational” without it seeming like they are selling a product.

Chipotle’s use of content marketing is a pretty big deal because it is changing the public’s perception of agriculture, whether warranted or not.

So you are probably asking yourself, how do we (agvocates) become less “advertisement” and more “informational?” How do we as individuals get the trust back from the American public (with a smaller marketing budget I might add)?

You are probably expecting me to say that you need to tell YOUR story. This is true and we can always use more agvocates out there, but I think the best way to reach consumers is by reaching out and getting into their homes as a collective, UNIFIED unit. No more “organic versus conventional” or “small versus large,” we need to stop fighting amongst ourselves before we can start fighting against the likes of Chipotle. Yes, Chipotle may have many advertising and marketing minds and a large multi-million dollar advertising budget, but I know they can’t compete with a grassroots initiative as determined as the families involved in agriculture.

I think we have great opportunities available for anyone to start advocating for agriculture, so in the words of Nike, just do it.

Social Media Spring Cleaning

social media, sping cleaning

Your social media spring cleaning bucket.

Now that we have finally reached spring (yes there was snow on the ground this weekend, but we will take it), I think it is time to do some spring cleaning for our social media sites. Here are five easy things you can do to give your social media presence a fresh, new look.

1. Change your bios

So we have been at this social media thing for a while and the entire time, we haven’t went back and changed any of our bios. Take the time this month to change and update your about page on your blog, change your Twitter bio and any other bio-like things you have on social media. You may find that you have changed the direction of your blog and social media since you first wrote those bios and your about page on your blog may have some drastically wrong content. Spring cleaning is the perfect time to do these necessary updates.

2. Change pictures

Now that we are out of the winter drab, take some time to change your blog and social media pictures to something more inspiring. Go out and snap a picture of your farm or the sunrise and then put it on your social media sites. You can also use this time to make all of your social media pages look consistent. This is really important to help create  your “brand” so people can recognize that they are on your social media sites no matter what site they are on.

3. Add a new page on your blog

Take the time to actually add another page to your blog. Maybe you want to add a page about  bloggers you think are doing a great job, or maybe you want to create a page about common misconceptions in agriculture and link to several blog posts that address these misconceptions. The possibilities are endless, but these pages should provide additional content to your audience that they would find useful.

4. Make sense of your categories

Blog categories tend to be a mess after a while. Some blogs may not be in a category or may not fit in the category that it is currently in. Take the time this spring to take charge of your categories so these actually work for your blog. People use these categories to find other blog posts that are similar to the one they are reading, so having categories that are effective is really important.

5. Increase efficiency

Making social media work for you, on your own time, can be important for weeks when you don’t have a lot of time to use social media (i.e. planting season). Things like Feedly, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and a smartphone are all ways to save yourself some time on social media. Feedly allows you to accumulate all of your favorite blogs and their posts into one location to make it easier to read. I usually use Feedly on my phone so I can read the posts whenever I have some down time. Feedly also lets me post straight to Twitter right from the website. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck allow you to schedule posts and see multiple streams at once (home feed, search terms, etc).  It allows you to make social media easier while also making it look like you have been on all day, when really you were only on for 20 minutes. All of these ideas are even easier when you use the smartphone applications. That way you can look at anything whenever you have some down time during the day (or when spending the entire day in the tractor).

Now that spring is finally here, make sure to make some spring cleaning changes to your social media sites. I just hope you have time to  make these changes before planting begins…

Top 6 Reasons to Use Twitter in Your Social Media Strategy

Top_6When I first started using Twitter a long time ago, I didn’t understand it and I didn’t see the difference between Facebook. A few weeks after I joined I got tired of it, a common feeling I hear when everyone starts using Twitter. On a previous post, Top 5 Needs to Become a Social Media Agvocate, I said Twitter was one of the top five needs for a social media agvocate because I believe it is the most important social media account every social media agvocate should have. Here are the top six reasons to use Twitter in your strategy.

1. Open door policy

Twitter has an open gate policy, so you can choose to follow almost anyone even if you don’t know them. The only time you are not able to follow someone is if they have their account locked. This open gate policy allows you to make an impression on someone without having to actually meet them.

2. Hashtags

Hashtags (#) are used to connect groups of posts.  The #agchat hashtag is used to connect Twitter posts that would resonate with people in agriculture. The hashtags are commonly used for tweetchats, which is the main purpose of the #agchat hashtag. A tweetchat is a designated time when people get together to talk about certain issues by following the hashtag. If you have a Twitter account, you can join in on the #agchat conversation on Tuesdays at 9/8 c.

3. Lists

Once you become a stupendous social media agvocate, you will probably start following several Twitter accounts. Lists are a way to control your Twitter feed, without having to unfollow everyone. By making or subscribing to lists, you can read the tweets of the members of the lists. This allows you to disect who you are following and make lists of the important people you want to hear from. It’s almost a Twitter feed inside of a Twitter feed.

4. Search

The single-most powerful thing on Twitter is its search function. Twitter can actually search every single Tweet, making it a powerful search tool. You can use Twitter search to get real-time information about anything you search for. Whether it be an event or if anyone has mentioned you without tagging you in the post. Twitter search is a powerful tool, that many do not use to its fullest capacity.

5. 140 characters

This is one of the things that made Twitter very popular. You can only write 140 characters (140 letters, spaces and punctuation). While this idea may be hard to grasp initially, it is actually a great tool that forces you and others to get to the point quickly. You can still add pictures and links, but they take up characters. You just have to be crafty sometimes.

6. Other social media agvocates are on Twitter too

While your target audience may populate Twitter, the real advantage to Twitter is to connect with others in your industry. Most social media agvocates are on Twitter and are sharing blogs and connecting with people all of the time, setting up a network. It is easy to make connections because you can Tweet at someone whenever they are talking about something interesting. This allows you to use the connections of the network to reach out to people instead of trying to do everything yourself.

Twitter is confusing at the start, but it is a great way to connect with people from across the world. Twitter has several features that many other social media sites do not have. Twitter is different from Facebook, but you need to experience it for yourself.

Top 5 Needs to Become a Social Media Agvocate

Top_5Looking back on my recent push at social media, I have found some things I cannot live with out and some things I with I had before I started. Here are my top five needs to become a social media agvocate.

1. Social Media Strategy

The most important thing you need to become an amazing social media agvocate, is a strategy. Laying out your goals and who your audience is can help keep you on the right track and guide your message. For instance, the objective of my blog is to help farmers and agriculturalists become agvocates on social media and my audience is farmers and agriculturalists  that want to reach consumers using social media. I actually sat down before I started this blog and laid out my goals and how to measure success. Even after you make a social media strategy, it is important to remember that you can always change your goals and audience. You should be doing something that you enjoy and love to take part in 365 days a year. For a blog strategy (that can help drive all of your social media plans as well) check out Stanford Smith’s FREE 7-Minute Blog Strategy.

2. A Blog

The foundation of your social media initiatives should be your blog. This is where you can shed light on your experiences and create a genuine conversation about agriculture. Providing your viewpoint to the conversation is important and the best way to do that is through a blog. I personally prefer to use WordPress, but there is also Tumblr, Blogger and many other blogging platforms.

3. A Smartphone

A smartphone is one thing every beginning social media agvocate should have because it  makes becoming a social media rock star easier. I use my smartphone almost every day to check my Twitter feed, read blog posts and so much more. It is always with me and I can use it to check social media whenever I have some down time, which is typically on the bus ride to work in the morning. Maybe you will find time when you are out in the field, eating (a quick) breakfast or maybe when you actually get a break in a day.

You will come to realize that you will begin to love social media and want to be in on the conversation all the time. This happened to me when I first started and I almost used too much data on my phone. It is really important to understand your data plan for your phone so you don’t have a massive bill waiting for you at the end of the month. I learned to use WI-fi whenever possible.

4. Twitter

Twitter is where most social media agvocates across the nation share their blog posts and have conversations with consumers and other agvocates. This powerful tool allows you to interact with people in a totally different way than other social media platforms. Through hashtags (#) and Twitter handles (@), you are able to seek out people you want to listen and talk to in 140 characters or less. This is cliche, but you can actually have a conversation with someone without blasting out the information.  The Tao of Twitter is a great book that really helped explain Twitter for me.

5. A Posse

Undoubtedly after a few weeks, you will hit a lull. You will find that being a social media agvocate is not very fun anymore. People are not looking at your blog posts and you have been sitting at 100 Twitter followers for two weeks. This happens to all beginning agvocates. Having a posse (group of aspiring social media agvocates) will help you get through the initial hard times. You can get a posse by convincing other agriculturalists around you to become social media agvocates with you. Lean on your posse for support, share tips on what works and what doesn’t, share each others content and give feedback on blog posts so everyone knows that they are on the right track. This posse is all about encouragement and making sure you stick with becoming a social media agvocate.

Social media is a great avenue to tell your story, but it is something that needs to be understood first. Make sure you have these top five needs for becoming a social media agvocate before you start, otherwise you may fall flat on your face.

Social Media Strategy for Agvocates: Step 1

In talking to other bloggers, they always say the first mistake they made was not having a strategy set in place before they began. The very first step in your social media strategy is to find your topic. Here are four easy steps to help you find your topic.

1: Find your favorite thing to talk about

When trying to find something to blog about, you should think about what you like to talk about on a daily basis. What really interests you? What is something you can talk about for hours (I know agvocates can do this)? As an example, say my favorite thing to talk about is agriculture (which is actually true). I have talked to consumers a lot about agriculture and I know there is enough to talk about. Once we have a great topic, we need to move on to step 2.

2: Make your topic more specific

While agriculture is a great topic to talk about in real life, it is too broad for a blog. You need to make your blog more specific so it can speak to a defined audience (step 2 of you strategy). This may seem counterintuitive, but we need to remember the Pareto Principle which states 20 percent of our audience makes up 80 percent of our business. That means, you should be focusing on a very targeted group, the group that is going to search for your knowledge the most. Instead of talking about agriculture, maybe you could talk about calf care or tips and tricks to ride a horse. Specific topics may have a smaller sample, but that sample will be more in tune with your message. For a good example, check out the Dairy Carrie blog.

3. Find your angle

Once you have a blog topic, it is important to think about how you want to present your topic. Do you want to use pictures? Words? Videos? Do you want to just tell people about your topic or do you want to be really controversial? Finding your angle, or you voice, can be really hard to do in the strategy before you actually start writing, but your angle is really important. It can evolve over time, so don’t feel bad if you don’t know what your angle is yet.

4. Write 52 blog post titles

Once you have a blog topic, you should write down 52 blog titles that relate to your topic. Not only will you be able to see if there is enough to talk about with your topic, but it will also help you when you are having trouble writing blog posts for the next year.