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Social Media -- Changing The Way Ranchers Do Business

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NCBA offers tips on using social media to advocate for agriculture.

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Yesterday, I attended the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s 64th Annual Trade Show and Convention in Huron, SD. The day kicked off with an estate planning session and ended with a prime rib dinner and the entertaining theatrics of beloved cowboy poet, Baxter Black. One of the hottest topics of discussion at convention was using social media as a part of your ranch routine.

“Social media has changed the way we do business,” says Season Solorio, director of issues management for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “Breaking news is now found on Twitter, not on the 5 o’clock news. From the beef industry perspective, we look for what people are saying about cattle ranchers online. There are only 2% of us who are raising food, but 100% of us have to eat, so we have to do a better job of getting the word out.”

She shared 10 tips from the Ag Chat Foundation on using social media:

• Know your purpose.
• Listen and engage in conversation.
• Participate in the community.
• Always take the high road.
• Follow the leaders.
• Converse from an agricultural perspective.
• Monitor trends and thought patterns.
• Share best practices.
• Get answers to problems.
• Have fun.

A good example of a Facebook status update that sheds a positive light on agriculture comes from a recent post by Debbie Lyons Blythe, a Kansas-based cattle rancher and feeder. She writes, “I really need a quick nap right now, but there is a calf that looks sick and needs attention. When I think of how miserable he must feel today in the cold wind, I'm not tired anymore and will head out to take care of him. He should be up and at 'em soon!”

While using social media may seem too complicated for the typical rancher, the next generation is incorporating these tools into their everyday operations. Whether it’s using Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, or Instagram, Solorio says your social media posts should be original, genuine and passionate. Build relationships online and join in conversations. Be respectful and offer your unique insights from a rancher’s perspective.

“There are two ways to engage with others online -- proactively and defensively,” explains Solorio. “Beefitswhatsfordinner.com is a proactive approach that helps people have a great beef-eating experience. Very differently, there’s a smaller segment of our consumers who have tough questions about how their beef is raised, and so for those people, we have created a new website called FactsAboutBeef.com, which helps debunk common myths about beef by addressing them head on. Both of these sites also have a presence on Twitter and YouTube, as well.”

If you’re using social media to advocate for agriculture, let me know. Post your Twitter handle, Facebook page link or blog site in the comments section below. And tell us what drove you to become a digital advocate for agriculture.

Discuss this Blog Entry 14

Vicki Brehm (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

I use my Brehm Farms Face Book page to announce cattle for sale, or events around the farm or I post pictures of the kids who show my calves.

Ganaderia Mexico (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

Hi! we are the largest SN in agriculture and livestock. 150,000 members. www.twitter.com/ganaderiamex
I will send you an email.

on Nov 29, 2012

www.Facebook.com/smailfarms

Best way for me to communicate with my market and for them to get to know me and how my animals are raised

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

Your example of the woman needing to post to Facebook so she psyches up to treat a calf is just weird to me. Why do so many people need validation for every little move?

I can understand using social media for sales information (well, sort of), but thinking that the world wants/cares about every breath one takes is just...well...insecure and narcissistic.

on Nov 29, 2012

Or maybe someone's just having fun. Terrible, ain't it? A few years ago, some agricultural group stuck a camera in an Iowa corn field and called it "corn cam." It got visits from all over the world, numbered in the millions. People got really involved in it.

There are all kinds of ways to reach people in the cities, including not taking yourself too seriously.

Katlyn Rumbold (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

Social media really is taking off. I am working on a few social media articles myself. I am finding that social media is the best way to connect the consumer with the producer so I started a blog of my own http://midwestfarmgirl.com/ where I discuss issues in agriculture and a few silly things that happen just to keep it interesting. Great post!

william mangels (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

when i make positive comments i get likes

Shane (Noble Foundation) (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012
Beef Jockey (not verified)
on Nov 30, 2012

I am promoting my cattle classifieds ad site via twitter. The site is beefjockey.com and my twitter handle is @beefjockey1

Terry Church (not verified)
on Dec 2, 2012

We in the Cattle Industry need to use all the available methods to promote our Industry, Sales, Breeds, Products, etc.. All the other businesses and industries use Facebook, Twitter, etc. and so should we as Cattlemen and Cattlewomen.

Dawn Martin (not verified)
on Dec 4, 2012

Just started our blog and facebook page. Look us up at www.swensonmartinhorses.com. Hopefully i can help to put a face to animal agriculture in our neck of the woods.

Swinging B Ranch (not verified)
on Dec 4, 2012

I have found in the past few years a website and facebook page for our ranch sales cattle. Human interest remarks as well as listing cattle for sale, and daily updates make a difference in promoting our cattle. My husband didn't much think it would work, but he's a believer now! http://swingingbranch.com

Rocking B Farms (not verified)
on Dec 5, 2012

Rocking B Farms uses facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Rockingbfarms), twitter (@RockingBFarms), blogs (http://rockingbfarms.blogspot.com/) and goggle plus to interact with potential customers, but also with the general public. We also have a website (www.rockingbfarms.com). Websites just don't keep up with what's happening now. We use the social media applications to instantly inform our viewers. We use them to post activities that occur on our operation. It might be the arrival of a new calf, visit from a customer, a show or just information that might be of interest to the community. We decided that as a smalll producer we could use social media to interact with viewers or customers with limited cost to our operation that does not have a large advertising budget. Social media also engages our viewers in our operation allowing them to comment on daily activities that we post. With a smart phone, we can go out to work cows and take a picture and instantly post it to a social media site. The nice thing about facebook is that you can also determine how many viewers you have, where they are located and what they are interested in. This helps to determine what type of things that might drive the viewer to interact with you or your ranch. Social media has definatley changed the way ranchers interact with customers and the general public.

Baldwin Agriland (not verified)
on Jan 2, 2013

I started a Facebook page for the ranch about two years ago along with a Twitter account.

We use it the same way Rocking B Farms uses their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Come visit us:

https://www.facebook.com/BaldwinAgriland

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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