Why You Should be Participating in Twitter Chats

My favorite Twitter chat is #AgChat. Join next Tuesday from 8-10 Eastern.

Hashtags have quickly become a part of our culture. People not only use hashtags on Twitter, but also in normal conversation. It is now commonplace for people to drop a #winning (said “hashtag winning”) or any other hashtag into a conversation.

What many people don’t understand is that hashtags actually have a purpose, larger than that of making a conversation more entertaining or just making a joke about a situation. Hashtags are a way to follow a topic and are very important when participating in Twitter chats.

Twitter chats are when people on Twitter come together to have a “chat” about a topic using hashtags. People follow the hashtag for the chat and chime in when they have an opinion about the posed questions. Some Twitter chats are more formal and have preset questions that are asked every few minutes while others are very informal and the visitors to the chat ask the questions.

Either way, Twitter chats are important for one large reason, they help you gain connections! By answering questions in this format, you are able to interact with people from across the world, creating new connections every time you join a Twitter chat. It is very common that I gain several new followers and strengthen my relationship with my connections every chat I participate in.

One of my favorite Twitter chats is #AgChat, which is held every Tuesday from 8:00-10:00 a.m. Eastern time. Hopefully I will see you there next time…#thatwouldbeawesomesauce


You Don’t Always Need to React

I recently visited the Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) social media center, which they refer to as the “fish bowl”. It is a glass-encased room full of TV monitors and bright, young minds in the world of social media. They are in this fish bowl every day trying to tell the good stories of the dairy industry. One of the most interesting things I learned during this visit was about reacting to controversies. People, organizations and companies promote tons of things on social media, but learning when you should and shouldn’t engage in a controversy was an important skill DMI felt agvocates need to understand better.

Most of the conversation was about Chipotle’s recent Hulu experiment where they created a series titled “Farmed and Dangerous.” These social media minds were explaining how this campaign wasn’t really gaining much traction and in fact, would have died faster had we agvocates not picked it up and ran with it. This led me to wonder what other controversies we as agvocates have promoted, leading the controversy to get more publicity than it would have.

Here are three things that could help you when thinking about whether to react to a controversial hashtag or blog:

1. Who is reacting

A controversy is often started when a person, organization or company creates a blog post, tweet or some other form of media. So, initially that group breaks the “story” and it is then up to the general public to decide if the story thrives or dies. When you are reading tweets or blog posts in this controversy, you need to look at who is in the conversation. This is where looking at bios on Twitter and blogs can be really important. Are the people that are commenting always against agriculture or are these people every day citizens? If a large amount of the following on the topic is the general public, then you should be joining the conversation.

2. Track it

If there is a hashtag associated with the controversy, then tracking that hashtag is really powerful. Using websites like hashtracking.com and tweetreach.com can provide you with analytics on the reach of the controversy and who the big talkers are in the controversy. These free websites can help you gain insight into the real strength of the controversy.

3. Is it on the news

The news is a very powerful entity and when a controversy has reached the news, then you know it is a serious issue. A lot of new entities use the the Associated Press and New York Times  to help them find stories. So, following these entities closely can help you find news stories before they are shown on every television screen across America.

While these are three tips that can help you decipher the strength of a controversy, others may have some other ideas. If you know of another way to decipher the strength of a controversy, post it in the comments below.

Facebook Profile vs. Page

Question of the day: Should I start a Facebook page or use my personal Facebook profile?

This is the first question most agvocates need to ask when thinking about starting to use Facebook in their social media efforts. There are advantages to both, but deciding what is right for your strategy is the most important thing to understand. Here are the major advantages of both.

Facebook Page Advantages:

  • There are advanced analytics on Facebook pages: Using the analytics tool provided by Facebook, you can see the reach of your post beyond the amount of likes, comments and shares, the best time of day to post and much more.
  • Advertising: Facebook pages allow you to easily advertise and promote your content and page. It is relatively cheap and you can spend as little as $5 a day and still see a big impact.
  • Scheduling posts: You can’t schedule posts on your personal Facebook profile, but with Facebook pages it is as simple as clicking a button.
  • You can still have a personal Facebook profile: With Facebook pages, everything is separate so you can still post whatever you want on your personal profile. If you decide to use your personal profile, you will need to be more selective about the content you put on your personal Facebook profile.

Personal Facebook Profile Advantages:

  • You can gain an audience faster: One of the biggest advantages to using a personal Facebook profile is that you can easily friend request someone. This make gaining an audience much easier, but be careful because you don’t want to come off as creepy to the person you are reaching out to.
  • You can better understand your followers: With Facebook pages you can get to understand demographic information about your followers, but you can’t figure out what that person is talking about on a day-to-day basis. A personal Facebook profile allows you to actually interact with someone on a daily basis without their permission.

They both have advantages so you may still be on the fence, but it really boils down to two things: First, what is your “persona” online? Are you going to be using this page as a person or as an organization or entity? If you are representing an organization or entity, seeking out people as a personal Facebook profile is really creepy. People do not want to be sought after from organizations or entities. Secondly, do you want people to see your personal life? If you like to post a lot of personal photos and information on your personal page, you really need to think about if you want others to see that. If you don’t want people to see it, then you should probably not use your personal Facebook profile.


3 Storytelling Ideas for Non-Blogging Agvocates

A grocery store is a perfect place to tell your story.

As bloggers, we like to get caught up in telling others that a blog is the No. 1 way they should be telling their story. But not everyone wants to be a blogger or has the time to do it. So, if this is you, you are probably wondering what you can do to actually help agriculture tells it’s story. Here are three fresh ideas for the average “wannabe” blogging agvocate.

1. Pictures are worth a thousand words

If you are a picture person, why waste your time with words? There is a reason Facebook and Twitter are building their platforms around pictures, but there are several different ways you can share photos.

  • Using the WordPress app, you can now easily post pictures to your blog. Just shoot, post and write a short description.
  • Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are completely photo-based and are important for key target markets (young and women).
  • If you want to spruce your pictures up, making them into simple infographics can be really powerful as well.

With the amazing quality you can get from the camera on your phone, pictures are a really simple way to share your story.

2. Using video will captivate your audience

Taking a video used to be a daunting task, but as the cameras on our cell phones continue to improve, capturing video is becoming easier. Did you know that YouTube is actually the second largest search database (only behind Google)? People are using video to learn more than ever before. Simply by creating a YouTube account and downloading their app, you can be sharing footage in no time.

3. Word of mouth

I know we may be going back into the stone age for this one, but word of mouth is a really strong communications tactic and is something agvocates tend to forget about in their daily lives. Millions of people from across the U.S. go to the grocery store every week, providing a prime location to talk to people about food. When you are grabbing your gallon of milk, introduce yourself to the person that grabs milk right behind you. If you do this every week that you go to the grocery store, you’d talk to 52 people in a year and they’d talk to more people, who would talk to more people. The grocery store aisles are the best place to have a conversation about food because everyone is already thinking food.

Ok wannabe blogging agvocates, now is your time to start telling your story. Make sure to tweet me your success stories at @Advocate4Ag.

Should We Stop “Feeding the World”

290384685_640“Feeding the world by 2050” has been a common phrase agvocates have been using for many years. It is based on the real need to feed the world’s growing population by 2050, but I don’t think it is working. This is just one example I found online that explains what consumers are being told, and it all isn’t a lie. I think consumers are beginning to see “feeding the world” as an excuse rather than a reason for why producers farm the way they do.

This is why agvocates need to stop using this “excuse” and begin using reasons. Producers don’t give cattle antibiotics to feed the world, they give it to their cattle for health reasons. A producer’s farm hasn’t grown to feed the world, it has grown to respond to market conditions pushing the price of milk down and feed costs up.

A farm isn’t a business so it can feed the world, it has always been a family-run business to feed a family.

Somewhere I think we agvocates have forgotten that farming is about family. If producers don’t do everything right, they could lose everything. They could lose the farm that supports their family. For some reason, consumers view these family businesses in a different light than the millions of other family business that are across America.

Agvocates need to help consumers realize farms and small, family businesses are actually the same thing.






Why It’s Hard to Let Go of “Got Milk?”

got-milk-superman“Got Milk?” relates to pretty much everyone in the dairy industry. Whether you took milk mustache pictures at the county fair or you took pride in the dairy industry whenever you saw a billboard that said “Got Milk?”, there will always be memories with the “Got Milk?” tagline.

As you may have heard, “Got Milk?” is being replaced with “Milk Life” as the official tagline of the dairy industry. I’m not really opposed to this new tagline, but rather am sad to see the old one go.

It has been with the dairy industry when the milk price dropped and when it peaked. It has been a constant reminder for the last 20 years to make sure consumers across the country got milk on their way home from work.It has been one of the few constants in the dairy industry for nearly 20 years. It has provided laughter every time we pass a sign with a celebrity donning a milk mustache. Or maybe pride for the dairy producer that painted the phrase on their barn.

“Got Milk?” wasn’t just an ad campaign, it was something that every member of  the dairy industry could embrace as their own.

I guess I’m getting nostalgic thinking about the last 20 years. With that same nostalgia, I know there will be new memories with this new campaign. So, drink up America…Milk Life.

Why Ellen’s #selfie Should Make You Mad

By now you probably have heard about this…


The (in all honesty) awesome photo taken at the Oscar’s that features Ellen DeGeneres, Julie Roberts and a bunch of other A-list stars. You probably also have heard that Samsung has decided to give 3 million dollars to a charity of Ellen’s choosing? And 1.5 million of that she has decided to give to HSUS? More about that here.

While this all should make you mad because we all know who and what HSUS is and stands for, I want to instead discuss something else that should upset us…Why are we agvocates not connecting with A-list stars?

Ellen is just the beginning of a Hollywood that doesn’t know the facts about agriculture.

HSUS, PETA and any other animal rights groups are always armed and ready with a top movie star that will shout their name. Where is agriculture in this mix? Where is our #selfie?

I don’t really have an answer for you, but all of this news about Ellen and her #selfie made me just a little jealous that we don’t have stars giving farmers money.

I guess for now, we agvocates will need to keep tweeting and sharing our own #felfies. None of us may reach 3 million retweets alone, but as a collective unit we will. That’s the great thing about agriculture, when we come together, we have a really big voice.