Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Six Reasons You Should Have A Farm Website

Remember when everyone used to tell you that having a farm blog was a priority – before social media was all the rage?

six-reasons-farm-website

So, are farm websites and blogs worth the time to build?

Yes, farm blogs are just as important as they were back before social media. In fact, they might be more important depending on how your customers are searching for information.

I know it’s much easier to just use social media to communicate compared to using a website tool such as WordPress, Wix, Webbly or SquareSpace (common website building content management systems).

But I’ll give you six good reasons why having a farm blog or website is still something every farm should have (not just the ones that are advocating for agriculture).

1. You own the domain and property.
You don’t own your Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube channel, Instagram profile, LinkedIn page, Snapchat, etc. … The company does and if they want to change the rules or if they feel like you violated them, then they can remove you and all your content from the system. With your own blog or website, you have full control.

2. A website can centralize all of your channels and content.
You are spending a lot of time creating content for these various social media channels, but does anyone go back and read an old Facebook post or Tweet? No. But if you put the text, photos and video on your website, people will be able to go back and read them (and it will get indexed properly by Google, so it can be found through searches).

3. Google will index it in the 1st position when people search for your farm.
Social media profiles rarely show up in the top position in Google’s search engine results page. If you want your farm name to show up when people search for it, then a website or blog is what Google will show first.

4. It will become the diary of the farm.
If you post content regularly to the website, then you will build a history of the farm through videos and photos that future generations can look back on for years and years. It will become the legacy of the farm. I wish my grandfather had a blog when he was building the farm from the ground up in the 1930’s. I would probably read it daily – over and over.

5. You can build an email list.
Email marketing is still very powerful and highly affordable (it’s practically free with Mailchimp and Constant Contact). By building an email list with your urban and local customers, you can reach out to them at any time to let them know what’s going on with the farm.

6. You could make money with it.
Many large brands use influencer marketing to get the word out about their new products. I have many farmer and urban blogger friends who make a living out of their blog by providing their large customer base with value through recipes and practical advice. The brands take notice of this and pay them to do sponsored posts (on social media as well) or through the Google Adsense Display network on their blog. All you have to do is set up Google Analytics on your blog to see how many people are visiting and what they are doing on the website.

Blogs and websites are still very important to agriculture and I would recommend that every farm have one. If you need help setting one up, please reach out to me at don.schindler@gmail.com.

Keep calm and blog on.

This was originally published on Hoard’s Dairyman.

Farm videos are popular – how do you make one?

Cow with a Go-Pro on its head

Have you watched a video on your phone this week? Was it on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube?

If you are like most Americans, you watched something. Maybe it was an amazing football catch, a local breaking news story, or a quick one-minute recipe. Facebook gets about 8 million video views each day, and YouTube claims the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes.
Why are we watching so much video online?

Because video is the preferred format on social media and it’s 12 times more like to be shared than text. So if you want your message seen, then you should be making a video.

What are some tips for making a good farm video?

1. Capture attention right away. You have three seconds to grab someone’s attention as they scroll through their social feed so start with action and not with an interview.

2. Don’t make it hard to watch. You should have good lighting (outside but not direct sunlight), decent audio (add closed captioning to video), and don’t make it very long (1 to 4 minutes).

3. People love sharing humor, education, and/or a useful video. Animals make great subjects because they’ll probably do something funny and it gives you the opportunity to talk about cow care.

How do you edit your video?

Editing videos is much easier than it used to be. Most phones have software built in to make basic edits like trimming a clip or adding two clips together, but if you want to add music or text, there are a lot of easy-to-use apps out there.

A couple of free apps I use are Video Show and iMovie. Both allow you to combine multiple videos and photos together, add music, use filters, and add special effects.

Within the Dairy Hub, we have several tutorials on how to use Video Show and iMovie as well as more tips on taking videos on the farm. You can join the Dairy HUB here.

What should you video on your farm?

I think some of the best content comes from how you would conduct a farm tour. You could do quick videos on each subject of the tour and answer the common questions that come up during a tour.

– Calves: While some may scoff at calf videos, remember that calves are our kittens and kittens rule the Internet. Talk about the amazing care you give them while you are feeding them.

– Housing: Every farm is different with housing, and you can explain why your cows in your environment benefit the most from the housing you are providing for them.

– Milking parlor: There’s a lot of myths around how cows are milked, and you can set the record straight by showcasing the care you take to make sure your cows are comfortable when they are milking.

– Cow feed: The advancements in cow feed are great for cow’s health and her production but a consumer might find it hard to understand. Take the time to explain (maybe even get your nutritionist on video) your cows’ diet and why you feed what you do.

Where do you put your farm videos?

Your Facebook Farm Page is a great place to put these videos along with a farm YouTube Channel and then on your farm website. If you need help with setting these channels up, we have tutorials within the Dairy Hub.

If you have any questions about how to make a video, please reach out to your local state and regional checkoff or you can contact me direct at don.schindler@dairy.org.

 

Originally published on Hoard’s Dairymen.

How To Handle Social Media In A Crisis

Fire

Photo courtesy of Farmer Bright

Something has gone terribly wrong on the farm or at your ag business and suddenly your social media channels are under fire. You’re flooded with questions from concerned people and others who are quick to attack you. You’re not only dealing with a crisis situation, but now you have to figure out how to handle your farm or company’s online presence.

But wait. How do we even know it’s a crisis?

You could argue that when you’re in a crisis, you’ll definitely know. But, there’s a big difference between a crisis and an issue. You need to first determine the severity of the situation before progressing because while we often refer to crisis and issues as the same thing, they have different execution plans.

Ask yourself these four questions to determine if you have a crisis on your hands.

Does the situation negatively impact the reputation of my farm or company?
Does the situation effect your bottom line?
Does the situation have a high-risk of going viral?
Does the situation negatively impact consumer trust in the industry?
If you’re nodding your head to more than a couple of these questions, it would be time to activate your online crisis management plan. Let’s talk about what you can be doing now to make sure your plan is ready to go.

1. Identify all potential crisis situations.

Have you thought about all the potential crisis situations that could happen on your farm or at your company? Food safety recalls, an accident on your farm, or maybe a sudden halt in operations because of a natural disaster. The first step is to identify the crisis situation and potential responses for each. How will your farm respond to an accident on the farm? Do you know what you would say? Write that message down because having this drafted message will save you a lot of time during the crisis.

Now where are you going to keep all those messages? A binder or a bunch of sticky notes is NOT your best option. Remember a crisis doesn’t hit when you’re at your desk. You need to be able to quickly access the messaging on multiple devices, and share with your team. Try Evernote – it’s a free note taking mobile and web application that will help you keep everything organized and easy to find.

2.Create a list of supporters.

During a crisis, you can’t stand alone. Think of this as the emergency list you leave on the fridge for your babysitter. Here are some considerations for people to add to your crisis-call list.

Ag Experts: These are the people that have experience dealing with a crisis (Checkoff programs, Coops, Farm Bureaus, etc.)
Online Advocates: Who are your people online? Your online community can be your biggest support during a crisis situation. It might be your farm or company page followers or members of your online groups.
Third-party Experts: You’re not always the best person to talk during a crisis. Identify knowledgeable and credible third-party experts that have your back. (Vets, Scientists, Dietitians)
Consumers: Your online fans. If you have a strong online community of friends and followers, they’ll step up and defend you during a crisis situation.
Where are we going to keep all this information? Again, Evernote is a great place to keep all this information.

Write down names and not organizations. You should have a specific contact person within the organization and it’s good to revisit the lists annually since roles change often.

3.Be prepared to respond.

Your online community is waiting for a response. Now it’s time to determine when and how to respond. It’s a sensitive time for everyone so make sure you take proper steps when responding.

When you get a comment or question about the crisis:

Investigate: Do not respond to anyone without first seeing who they are. While you can’t see the person screen to screen, you can easily investigate who they are by clicking on their profile or doing a quick google search. Why is this important? During a crisis your time is valuable and you should spend thoughtful time responding to people who are willing to engage and listen. Don’t waste your time responding to hateful and vulgar comments. Our advice is that you should block and delete.
Ask Questions: It’s ok to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand what the person is saying and where they’re coming from. It’s okay to say, “Hi Mike, can I ask where did you get your information?”
Respond with Empathy: If you get defensive, you lose. Yes, you are the expert about how you farm. Now just imagine you are explaining it to someone you care about. Use first names in your response and consider starting with, “Thanks for reaching out, Mike, and I understand why you’re concerned. This is what happened…”
Take it offline. In a crisis situation, like a food recall or people getting sick, try and take the person offline. Get them to a hotline. Make sure you’re getting people to the right information, and fast.
4.Practice. Practice helps you identify gaps and then adjust. Spend time with your team reviewing the messaging, updating your crisis-contact list and practicing for each potential crisis situation. It’s not a one-time deal and you can check the crisis-preparedness box. It’s ongoing. As a team, commit to practice annually (or more) and set dates to follow through.

Now is the best time to get ready for a potential crisis. Want more practice? Or do you need help developing crisis resources? The best place to start is your local checkoff programs as most have crisis materials for your farm or you can always reach out to me  at don.schindler@dairy.org and we’ll figure out a way to get you what you need.

PS. Since 2001, Dairy Management Inc along with local dairy checkoff programs have developed and executed industry wide crisis drills. These drills bring together the entire value chain (farmers, co-ops, promotions, processors and retailers) and test our crisis preparedness as an industry. If you are interested in learning more about our industry crisis drills, please contact me and we can tell you more about it.

 

Original article published on AgChat.

How to use Instagram Stories For Your Farm or Business

Wait, Don, what’s Instagram? Go here to find out at Instagram for your farm. Then come back to this story.

Instagram Stories is simply just a way to add multiple photos/videos together to make a story. But here are three reasons I think you should be using it along with a quick tutorial.

1. It’s hot right now. Things don’t last too long in internet land and right now people are checking out the new feature. There are very few people posting a lot of Instagram Stories so you have a fighting chance to be up at the top of everyone’s feeds (that follow you).

Instagram Stories are hot!

 

2. It’s really simple to use and has almost all the same features as Snapchat without the confusion of Snapchat’s interface.

It's simple to use.

So how do you use it?

Open Instagram.

Click on the + sign at the top left.

add-instagram-stories

 

The big button in the bottom is for photos and video – just click once for a photo and hold for video.

record-button-instagram-stories

 

Once you are finished with the photo/video, it will let you edit the screen by writing with the pen, marker or glowing marker. Or you can add text and then move it around or make it larger/smaller by pinching and pulling the text.

edit-instagram-stories

add-doodle-instagram-stories

add-text-instagram-stories

 

After you finished adding text or doodles, then you can cancel or save (down arrow) or use the Check Box to add to your 24 hour story.

Easy as pie.

3. Stories don’t last forever on it (only 24 hours) so you can have fun and tell a quick story about the farm. Here’s some farms doing so cool stuff with it.

Only 24 hours

Now you can exclude some people from seeing your stories.

https://www.instagram.com/waymar_dairy/

https://www.instagram.com/idfa/

https://www.instagram.com/thelittlehouseonthedairy/

https://www.instagram.com/udayoungcooperators

https://www.instagram.com/nyfarmgirls

https://www.instagram.com/vetpracticevahs

Unfortunately you can’t like Stories yet but you can message people direct through Instagram and give them some love that way.

If you go to the three little dots as the bottom, you can do some cool things there as well.

You can Delete, Save Video, Share as Post or go into Story Settings.

adjust-settings-instagram-stories

Once there, you can Hide the Story from people or allow message replies from Everyone, People You Follow, or turn it Off.

hide-settings-instagram-stories

Have fun using it and let me know if you have any questions. You can hit up at don.schindler at dairy.org or  use Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.

14 Photo Apps That Help You Take Better Pictures

Created with Snapseed

Created this photo using Snapseed – so easy

Snapseed – FREE – 4.5 (iOS) / 4.5 (Android) stars
Perfect your photos in a snap with the new Snapseed 2. This app brings to your mobile device the power and control of professional photo editing software, previously only available on the desktop. Now with the tap of a finger you can retouch, adjust perspective, re-edit, and more.

Layout from Instagram – FREE – 4.5 (iOS) / 4.5 (Android) stars
Create fun, one-of-a-kind layouts by remixing your own photos and sharing them with your friends. Choose photos from your camera roll—or use the built-in Photo Booth to take spur-of-the-moment shots—and instantly see them laid out in various combinations. Pick the layout you like best, then edit it to make it your own.

Pixlr – FREE – 4 (iOS) / 4.5 (Android) stars
Unlock your creativity with Pixlr – the free photo editor! Capture any moment and make it beautiful with over 2 million combinations of free effects, overlays, and filters. Once you’re done, share your finished work directly to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or your other favorite social networks!

PicLab HD – FREE – 4.5 (iOS) / 4.5 (Android) stars
PicLab Studio is the go-to app for your design needs. Produce stunning images by combining text, artwork, graphics, effects & photos.

Qwik – FREE – 4 (iOS) / 3.5 (Android) stars
Qwik is the fastest and easiest way to make pretty photos and to share them with friends on your favorite social media. Take your photos further and easily add stunning Artwork, Typography & Effects to your photos. The app was designed to making it effortless to edit photos into great design pieces in no time and absolutely no experience!

VSCO – FREE – 2 (iOS) / 4.5 (Android) stars
Create, discover, and connect on VSCO®.
Shoot and edit your images with our superior mobile presets and advanced camera controls. Publish images and journals, or curate others to your VSCO profile. Explore content from the people you follow, curated work from the community, and exclusive editorial content from VSCO Originals.

Superimpose – $.99 – 5 (iOS) / 4 (Android) stars
Just with a few taps, create professional grade superimposed or juxtaposed photos on your iPhone! You don’t need a computers and expensive software to superimpose or blend/mix/combine/cut/copy/paste one photo on top of another any more.

Camera+ – $2.99 iOS / FREE Android – 4.5 (iOS) / 4 (Android) stars
It’s all about one thing… great photos! Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or someone who’s barely touched a camera, Camera+ will make you love taking photos.

Honorable Mentions
Camera MX
Procamera
Mixture
Enlight
Fotor
Faded
Lifecake

What questions would you like me to answer now? Just hit me up on socia l media or just email me at don.schindler at dairy.org.

Also what should you be taking photos of and how should you do it? Here’s a simple program.

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