Twitter is a “mini” blog site (the word “blog” being a blend of the term web log and defined as having regular entries of commentary and description of events). It allows users to post 144 character blogs, or “tweets” about current events, news information, or any topic of interest.
Tweets can be sent not only to an individual’s web account, but can also be sent to a cell phone in the form of a text message, so a person is always receiving information even if they are not on the computer. Again, some folks may ask — what is the big deal, and do people really care about what I am doing right at this moment? The issue is — as we mentioned — that sometimes it can be wise to take the good with the bad. Think of twitter as a conversation with multiple people who are interested in what you (or your business) are doing.
Dan Patterson, who writes a blog for SEO.com (Search Engine Optimization), suggests using social media to “find your audience, and then hang out with them.” He writes that social media is full of groups, fan pages, and other things that make it fairly easy to find an audience that is already interested in your topic or industry. An idea to try here is to use search.twitter.com to see what people are talking about that relates to the feed and grain industry or your company. You can see what they are linking to and talking about, and then devise a strategy that allows you to tweet with your customers, sharing thoughts and or brief news bites they desire or value.
For the grain company who shares futures market information with customers, Twitter can be used to send futures market information to interested customers. An early call, mid-session and closing reports can reach the customers’ cell phones throughout the session so they can keep up to date on market changes.
YouTube: Video made easy
YouTube is another site that has rocketed in popularity. The Youtube site allows users to post videos of any topic they desire.
Are there any YouTube applications that a feed or grain business could come up with? It might take some “outside of the box” thinking. Perhaps create some educational video shorts of you discussing managing grain for quality, or maybe some informative features for the general public. To view an example, search YouTube for AgPhD’s Farm Basics: Grain Piles #607, or check it out at www.agphd.com.
Don’t forget your website
Update your website often and use it as a dashboard to your social media marketing efforts; meaning from your home page you should have links to your Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Keep your websites fresh with new articles and photos on a weekly or monthly basis… this keeps customers coming back for more information.
If you as a feed and grain business owner or manager don’t feel that you are up to “taking the plunge,” with this “new fangled” technology and openness — a strategy that might be worth considering is to utilize one of your younger employees to assist with the effort. Put them in charge of your social media efforts, make sure they have access to useful information, and take their responsibility to communicate with your clientele seriously.
A message to the old school
You will note in our summary of the Farm Journal Media survey at the beginning of this column that 67% of the 13 to 19 age group belong to an ag-related organization such as FFA. One of us in particular (Foltz, an academic dean at a college of agricultural and life sciences, who is in charge of recruiting high school students to attend his university), continues to find the association with FFA and 4-H to be extremely relevant. These are the groups that promote our industry, and where the future generation of farmers and ranchers “hang out.” Local FFA chapters and 4-H groups are constantly looking for mentors, speakers and field trips. There is no better way to connect early with these young people than to meet with them in these settings.
On the slightly older end of the spectrum, 84% of the 30 to 39 age group indicated it’s important to network with other young producers. While some observers make fun of groups that gather to kibbutz at the coffee shop as wasting time, there is significant value in this networking. Why not put this technique to work by providing the venue and the coffee and/or pastries on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. (Yes, we know many feed and grain businesses already do this, but our sense is that quite a few do not.)