Don Schindler

Social Media Trainer for Industries

How do you become a farmer rock star?


If farmers are going to be rock stars, then they need to act like it.

Recently there was an article written about the California Ag Secretary Karen Barrett Ross where she said, “My dream is to make farmers the rock stars.”

She’s basing this how in recent years we’ve seen wine makers (who are usually farmers as well) and chefs become media darlings.

She goes on to say that “farmers are fabulous characters. Our young people, especially, are looking for authenticity….We have to stop just telling our story to each other.”

According to the article by Lori Potter, she said a media series has been started that pairs California farmers and chefs. I’m so happy about this. We need more of this.

But you don’t need a media series out of CA to become a rock star.

You just need to commit some of your precious time and energy to talk directly to your customers.

So how does one become a rock star?

I’m going to juxtapose a musician and a farmer. And I’m also going to assume you know how to play/farm. Because if you don’t then you need a ton of practice before you become a rock star.

1. Play lots of gigs.
You get up in front of people and show them what you can do. Since you normally don’t have an audience out on the farm (unless you consider the cows and barn cats fans), this means you pull out your smart phone and start taking videos and pictures of what is happening on the farm.

After you take a few pics and videos, you upload them to your social networks and make sure you describe what you are doing. You may think people don’t care or probably think it’s a boring as you think it is, but you are wrong. They want to see this stuff and they love how you describe it. They don’t see this everyday.

A couple of farmers that I think play a lot of gigs is Laura Daniels at Heartwood Farms and Karen Bohnert from kjerseykids.


2. You take control of your image.
You are brand. Just like Motley Crue or Jay Z. Whether you think you have one or not, you do. And you can control it, just like you control what you wear and what you say. I have a how class on personal branding and I suggest you read through it.

You want to be a farmer in overalls with the red barn, great. You want to be farmer showing off your brand new technology and how advanced your processes are, awesome. But start thinking of how you want others to perceive you and then start acting that way. But don’t be fake. People can see right through the BS.

A couple of farmers that I think understand how to control their image is Krista Stauffer at The Farmer’s Wifee and Brenda Hastings at The Dairy Mom.


3. Expose yourself.
In a good way. What I mean is you need to be open to people seeing inside your farm life. Think about Maroon 5 or Miranda Lambert – they are on the road all the time and yet they still have time to do interviews, put fan content into all the social networks and still have to deal with tabloids stalking them every minute of the day. You would think with all their money and lifestyle they could let others just do it for them. But people don’t want that, they want you.

You don’t have to document everything that is bad or everything that ticks you off. Remember your brand – don’t brand yourself as a Debbie Downer. You need to be open to people asking questions, giving thoughtful answers. This isn’t a “build it and they will come” sort of thing either.

You need to be putting your pics and videos in places where people will find them (not just on your website) but using things like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and even places like Reddit. How many of you guys have done a “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. Celebrities and rock stars know they have to do it because they need the exposure.

A couple of farmers that I think understand a lot about exposure and having a wide digital presence are Carrie Mess at DairyCarrie and Carla Shelley atT ruth Or Dairy.


4. Make a plan and stick to it.
Rock stars are busy as heck – creating music, touring, album releases, interviews, etc… They couldn’t do all of this willy-nillly. They have a plan and they stick to it. If you are not releasing new stuff then the audience goes away.

You need to do this as well and having a plan can help you accomplish this without it taking all your free time. With the advances in smart phones and technology, I’m betting you could do a lot of this in just 20 minutes a day – occasionally a little more time for something that you really want to do like a podcast or a video series. Adding consistent content will make sure the audience sticks around.

Did you know you can use the same tools the rock stars use. And I’ll even give you the “how to” set ups with each one.

  • Twitter – meet almost anyone in the world especially your customers. Like Clay Aiken. Here’s how to set it up Twitter.
  • Facebook – while I’m not a fan of Facebook pages, you can certainly spread a lot of good messages from dairy good. Here’s how to set it up Facebook Pages.
  • Instagram – meet a lot of new people using hashtags. Cowsofinstagram, farm365 are good stuff. Here’s how to set up Instagram.
  • YouTube – where the world finds video. We need more of our animal care videos out here. Here’s how to set up YouTube for your farm.
  • LinkedIn – you are a business people, right? So why stay out of the social network that helps build business relationships? Get on it. Here’s how to set up LinkedIn for yourself.
  • Google+ – Ha. Just kidding. Nobody is really using this anymore except for SEO purposes.

The other thing I really, really need you to do is join to get the myDairy email updates. This is great place to get notified when something needs your attention.

Are you ready to be a farmer rock star?

If you need more help, just hit me. I’m always available.

How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Twitter Profile

Twitter is more the wild west of commenting (though not as bad as YouTube) and you are sure to get negative comments out here. In fact, one of my favorite skits by Jimmy Kimmel is his featured Mean Tweets where celebs read some of the meanest tweets about themselves. I’m a big fan of Clay Matthews and his mean tweet was classic.


Courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel Live and YouTube

I believe that people are more apt to stay things they would never say on other public networks is because it’s hard to trace who people are on Twitter. They could be themselves and have their name tied to it or they could be using twitter anonymously and none of their family or friends even know they are there.

So without the filters of these other people, tweets can sometimes be flippant, sarcastic, rude, vulgar, joking, or crazy. They might be just trying to get a rise out of you – it could be just about anyone on the other side of that tweet.

So a lot of the rules that I gave you about really understanding who you are talking to is important BEFORE you even think about engaging in a dialogue.

First things first, do these. 1. Evaluate the Messenger 2. Use your listening skills 3. Ask more clarifying questions 4. Be respectful and polite 5. Use your experiences as examples 6. Be on offense, not defense 7. Don’t use jargon 8. Provide links to experts 9. Craft a thoughtful response 10. If you don’t know, tell them 11. Find some common ground 12. Thank them for speaking with you.

I want to add a few more things about the evaluation. If you click over to their profile and don’t see a large following – DO NOT THINK THEY ARE NOT INFLUENTIAL. Just because they don’t have many followers, doesn’t mean that they don’t influence others.

You should treat everyone with respect and understand that their tweets are limited in characters so things they may be trying to stay are coming out as harsh or blunt. They may not mean it – it’s just the limitations of the network. Definitely pay attention to the emoticons. :)

But if you determine the negative comments are real, here’s how I would handle it.


Ray Prock is a farmer friend and I would never think that he sucks. Just an example.

1. Can others see it? If someone responds to me after I post and they have replied to me like (@donschindler you suck!) if the @donschindler is first then the only people that can see this post is me, them and the people that follow both of us.


The period means everyone can see this tweet.

Now if they put a . in front of the handle like this .@donschindler then all of their followers can see it. My followers wouldn’t see this because they only see what I post and as long as I don’t respond in a manner with the . then only they will see it and our mutual followers.


Go to their profile and click on the little GEAR symbol to block.

2. If it’s negative and they are just going after me and not really asking or engaging in a conversation, then I just ignore them. There’s really no reason to waste the time. If you don’t like getting the notifications of your twitter handle being used, you can always delete and block.

3. If they are going after me and they are using the same hashtag as most of the audience we are both trying to influence, then I may engage using questions, apathy and taking the high road. Remember this conversation is actually being viewed by all of those following the hashtag whether they are replying to you or not. The win is usually not convincing the other person but more about the audience seeing you as kind, honest and credible.

BTW, DairyCarrie is a great friend as well and I would never Block or Report her.


4. Worst comes to worst and they won’t stop harassing you – just block and report them to Twitter. This is always the last resort, though.

Are there any techniques you use on Twitter to deal with negatives? If so, just hit me up on Twitter and let me know.

If you have more questions, feel free to reach out as well.


How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Facebook Page

weigel-dairy-facebook-page This is an entirely different realm because this is a public business page. If you are accepting comments (which I think you should) then you can expect this type of thing happening.

Now if you are listening to the major social media marketing companies and experts, they are going to tell you that you need to do a couple of things right away.

  1. Response immediately.
  2. Acknowledge the issue.
  3. Apologize sincerely.
  4. Try to take it offline.

I completely recommend this line of thinking for an actual customer who’s upset with your product or service.

But that’s not always the case when it comes to farm/food company pages. You may be getting negative comments from people who have never used your product or service and never will. They think they can come and tear your business a new one based on their philosophy of life. And I don’t think these type of negative comments should be handled in this fashion.

Now remember what I’ve said before about how to handle negative comments first – 1. Evaluate the Messenger 2. Use your listening skills 3. Ask more clarifying questions 4. Be respectful and polite 5. Use your experiences as examples 6. Be on offense, not defense 7. Don’t use jargon 8. Provide links to experts 9. Craft a thoughtful response 10. If you don’t know, tell them 11. Find some common ground 12. Thank them for speaking with you.

But when it comes to your Facebook Page, you need to have a few things in place to help you deal with negative comments.

One of the best things to do right now is to make sure you have Facebook Community Guidelines. I would post this in the “About” section in the long description text and I would put up a post about the comments on the page itself. If things are not going well with a lot of negative comments, you can even pin the post to the top of the feed.

Here’s an example from Mackinson Dairy Farm. Great stuff.

Sample community guidelines: Thanks for visiting! We enjoy engaging in positive conversations about the dairy industry. In order to foster a learning environment and make this space respectful, we reserve the right to remove any comments/posts that include vulgar language, name-calling or slander.

There’s also some more ways to protect your farm business page – remember this is the front door to your farm. It doesn’t have to have negative comments from people who don’t buy your product or bad ratings by people who have never ever been to your place.


If critics are negative commenting on every post, you can turn them off by going into your Page, then click on Settings. General navigation tab should be displaying and you’ll be able to see Posting Ability. Click on this and you can change the ability of people to post on your page. I would first change to “Review posts by other people before they are shown on my Page”. You’ll be able to review in the Activity Log. Or you can just disable posts by other people on your Page timeline. Then click Save Changes.




If critics are cursing or using words that you don’t want on your Page timeline, you can moderate that by clicking Page Moderation and adding the words you want to block and just below that you can can set the Profanity Filter as well.



If a critic has just left one comment and it’s not relevant, you can hide their comment by going to the comment and then rolling over the far right top of the comment. An X will show up and you can hide the comment from the comment section.



No one else will see it but the commenter will be able to see it so they don’t think anything has happened (even though they won’t have any follow up replies).

You can also do this through the Activity Log.


If critics are continuing to come back and arguing in a non-constructive or are off topic, you can always mark their comments as spam and then you will get the option to block them.

If you feel like you would rather your audience handle the critic’s comments, there’s nothing wrong with using email or direct message to reach out to friends and have them join in with some positive reinforcements.


If you have ratings enable, because you selected your page as a business and have an address and people start giving you low ratings (not because they use your service or product), you can always switch the category of your page by going under the About Section of your page and editing the category from a local business or company to “other” and change to “community” and the ratings will disappear. You can also just delete your address and the ratings should go away.

The big thing to remember here is that this is your farm business page (the front door of your business) and while you might get a negative comment occasionally from a customer, a barrage of negative comments about what you do from people that don’t use your product or service is unacceptable. You have the right to moderate your page the way you see fit.

If you have any other insights you want to share or any questions, please feel free to contact me don.schindler (at)

How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Facebook Profile


Better to have the conversation in Messenger.

Most Facebook profile comments are coming from people within your friend group. You had to have accepted their “friendship” or connection at some point.

The only time this wouldn’t happen is if a friend of yours shared your post to their friend list (which is how things go viral so you hope this happens) or if you are using a hashtag in a public post and someone found it.

Now remember what I’ve said before about how to handle negative comments first – 1. Evaluate the Messenger 2. Use your listening skills 3. Ask more clarifying questions 4. Be respectful and polite 5. Use your experiences as examples 6. Be on offense, not defense 7. Don’t use jargon 8. Provide links to experts 9. Craft a thoughtful response 10. If you don’t know, tell them 11. Find some common ground 12. Thank them for speaking with you.

Personally, this needs to be handled delicately and I always treat these people as friends first. Lots of listening, apathy and polite conversation.

But I also keep in the back of my mind that Facebook is most likely going to be the digital diary of my life that I leave behind for multiple generations of my family. It’s not that it needs to be perfect – in fact it makes it a whole lot more authentic than say a written autobiography but I try and keep it positive and happy. Because I am positive and happy in my life. No need to air the dirty laundry we all have here in a public place.

Now if the conversations gets a little too much or a little too heated, I prefer to direct message the person via Facebook Messenger and continue the conversation.

Sometimes we agree and sometimes we agree to disagree.

Remember that every digital conversation has a record and never say anything here that you wouldn’t want them to copy and paste and put into a public feed.


You got to go.

If they choose to continue the debate in public on your profile and it’s upsetting you and your family, it is just a Facebook friend after all and I’ve got no problems “unfriending” them.

But I would only choose this as a last resort and I can tell you that I’ve never ever had to use it.

Now “blocking” people for trying to get me to play Farmville too many times is another story.

How do you deal with negative comments on your Facebook profile?

You just received a negative comment online, now what do you do?


Whoops! Guess you pissed somebody off. Cause you just got a seriously negative comment on your post. Or did you?

Listen, these things are going to happen. Especially if you are making a difference in the world. There are always going to be naysayers and critics. You can see them as a worrisome burden or an outstanding opportunity. Or you can see that as what they really are in most cases – attention.

Much like there’s no such thing as bad press, negative comments mean that people are paying attention. How you deal with that attention especially negative attention says a lot about your character.

I know it’s tough to not put on your gloves (I love to box and counterpunching is how a lot of  fights are won according to my trainer) but this is a social world and everything you say can be spread virally. With this in mind, we’ve put together some guidelines that may help you when you run into negative feedback.

First things first:

Evaluate the messenger – definitely go check out their profile before you answer. Most detractors have a lot of things on their profile that will let you know that they aren’t here to just ask a few questions. They are here to argue with you about what you do. As my friend Kim Kirchherr says you don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to. If there isn’t any chance to persuade or give them insights into what you do, there’s no reason to engage.

Use your listening skills – with just text, it’s really hard to tell if they are being inquisitive or sarcastic. People forget commas and write like they talk. Say it out loud in a couple of different tones. I always try and think that most people have good intentions but they don’t write them that way.

Ask more questions to clarify what they are talking about – don’t just make assumptions. You could be off by a mile and a half and you just wasted a ton of your time and you didn’t answer their question.

Be respectful and polite – farmers are some of the most respected people on the planet. Don’t soil yours as well as your fellow farmers’ reputation by getting into a name-calling, ALL-CAPS shouting match.

Use your own experiences as examples – you can prove how you take care of your animals by posting pics and videos of them. You’ve got tons of stories of leaving your warm bed to stay up with a sick calf. That’s a big deal and people sympathize.

Be on the offense, not defense – if you get defensive, you are losing. And there’s no reason for it. You are the expert about how you farm and you can explain your point of view but don’t get backed into a corner. Use the “Yes, I understand your point, and this is what we do…”

Don’t use jargon – most people don’t grow up on farms so don’t talk to them like you do another farmer. Talk them like friends that you want to entertain and provide info to.

Provide links to other experts – if you are scientist like my farmer friend, Joe Kelsey, then you probably understand a lot of the science behind everything you do. If not, you can rely on your expert friends in the dairy community like Dr. Greg Miller or Jean Ragalie-Carr, RD. They are here to help.

Take the time to craft a thoughtful response – this is not a race to finish the conversation. You can always get back to them with a “That’s a great question and I want to give you a thorough answer. I’ll reach back out in a little while to get you that answer. Is that ok?”

If you don’t have an answer, let them know – you don’t have to know everything. You are not speaking for the entire dairy universe. It’s better to just admit there’s something you don’t know and send them to someone who might know.

Find some common ground – we’re all people right? We’re all in this together so there has to be some common ground somewhere. I see it mostly with kids. You got kids. I got kids. They are awesome and difficult to deal with. We do almost everything for our kids. Including feed them.

Thank them for speaking with you – most people just stalk the internet reading everything. A few people speak up. When they do, understand that they are putting themselves out there as well.

Not every negative comment is really a negative – here are some really great farmer advice from social savvy farmers (like dairycarrie and Ray Prock) and industry professionals (Janice Person) who have been advocating for quite some time.

I’ve built a social media flow chart on how to handle negative comments in an objective way (if it can ever seem objective). You can download it for free and use with your farm or business.

Social Media Flowchart

Would you like to edit this yourself? Just ask me and I’ll send you the file.


When things get real bad, like scary bad, here’s how to handle cyberbullying that allows you to discover who is after you and how to put an end to it.

Now I would like to discuss how to handle negative comments on the different platforms. There’s some different things you can do to keep yourself and your reputation intact and protected.

Facebook Profile
Facebook Page
Twitter Profile
Pinterest Profile – coming soon
YouTube Channel – coming soon
Instagram Profile – coming soon

Any other platforms I should go over?

Questions Consumers May Ask A Dairy Farmer

consumer-questions-for-farmers I’ve been involved in the dairy community for just over two years right now – helping to train both farmers and industry professionals in the use of digital communication tools.

And it hasn’t always been easy.

I’m not talking about training people – though, some of my farmer friends think they are worthless when it comes to Twitter and Instagram, they always catch on pretty quick and almost every single one of them is a very skilled storyteller.

What isn’t easy is dealing with how a conversation might go between a consumer and a farmer when it comes to sensitive subjects that people have strong opinions about like GMOs and Animal Care.

I can tell you that every farmer I’ve met does the best job they can to take care of their animals and keep the land healthy so it is producing at the highest level of quality. They take their careers very seriously and it’s difficult for them to imagine that some people might question their integrity on how they deal with the animals and the environment.

Some farmers think that if they just knew the hours and resources we sacrifice to put a healthy safe product on their tables then people would just get it.

But most people don’t – especially those that have never set foot on a farm – and it’s not their fault. The information they find about farms and the farming life may not be the most accurate and it could have been sensationalized by others.

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the questions that farmers may get along with the answers we give (now these answers are more talking points. They are not to be used in a copy/paste format but more for direction and background info) to our farmers and professionals.

These are changing all the time as well and nothing is forever.

If you need something else answered that I haven’t addressed here, feel free to send me an email or hit me up on social (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, what have you…)



What are GMO’s? Are they bad for your health? Why can’t we just label foods to tell people what foods are GMO’s, and let them make their own choices?

  • A GMO is a plant whose genetics have been improved by including desirable qualities to make the plant healthier and more productive. GMO technology is beneficial because it reduces our reliance on pesticides and fossil fuels. Further, it reduces the amount of natural resources needed to produce food, thus helping preserve topsoil and groundwater.
  • Most cows on conventional dairy farms are fed crops grown from GMO’s. Research confirms that the milk is no different, whether the dairy cows were fed conventional or GMO feed. There is strong consensus among scientists and health groups that milk from cows consuming GMO feed is safe. Strict government standards assure that all milk is nutritious, wholesome and safe. It’s important to know that the cows themselves are not genetically engineered, and the milk they produce is not genetically modified.
  • The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require foods to be labeled as having been produced with GMO ingredients. FDA has found that there is no material difference between GMO and non-GMO foods. That means a GMO food or ingredient is just as safe and nutritious as its non-GMO counterpart. We support the option for food companies to voluntarily label for GMO’s.
  • For more information on GMO’s, visit the or


Animal Care:

Do most dairy farmers routinely abuse their animals? Why do they do this, and aren’t there laws against that?

  • Most dairy farmers take excellent care of their animals. It only makes sense. Besides the fact that it’s the ethical thing to do, dairy cows must be healthy and well cared-for in order to produce pure, wholesome milk. Dairy farmers depend on healthy cows for their livelihoods. They provide cows with a nutritious diet, good medical care and healthy living conditions.
  • Dairy cows receive periodic check-ups, vaccinations, and prompt treatment of illness. The dairy industry has worked with veterinarians and other animal care and industry experts to establish guidelines for the proper care of dairy cows.
  • Dairy farmers across the country are outraged by the rare instances of abuse on dairy farms. These actions do not reflect the animal care practices of the thousands of hard working dairy farm families across the U.S. who care for their animals every day.
  • Dairy farms and companies are committed to animal well-being, and have put in place some important initiatives reinforcing this. National Milk Producers Federation, with support from a coalition of dairy organizations, farmers and dairy food companies, launched the National Dairy FARM Program in 2000. FARM is a verifiable national animal well-being program that offers U.S. dairy farmers tools for practicing excellent management of their herds.  Visit for more information.



Are there extra hormones in milk? Are these bad for human health?

  • Bovine somatotropin (bST) is a naturally occurring protein hormone in cows. It helps young cattle grow and adult cows produce milk. A small amount of this hormone is naturally present in all milk, including organic products. When you drink milk, bST is completely broken down by digestion like any other protein.
  • Some dairy farmers may use a synthetic version of bST, known as rbST or BGH, as a tool to help cows produce more milk. rbST is not added to the milk itself. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of rbST in 1993 after an exhaustive review of scientific studies that indicated the product is safe.
  • Dairy companies have responded to consumer requests for choices in the dairy aisle, and many now offer milk made from cows not supplemented with rbST. This decision is a result of market demand, and is not related to any health or safety issue. All milk is wholesome, safe and nutritious.

To learn more, read Cornell University’s overview of hormones.



Are there antibiotics in milk? Which ones, and how much? Does this contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans?

  • Dairy farmers work hard to keep their cows healthy. When cows become ill, they may need to be treated with antibiotics, just as people sometimes need medication when they are sick. Dairy cows are under the care of licensed veterinarians who prescribe antibiotics when necessary and advise dairy farmers on how to use them properly.
  • Every truckload of milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and at the processing plant. Any milk that tests positive cannot be sold to the public. The farmer responsible for the milk is required to pay for the full truckload.
  • Under a comprehensive program overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and implemented by the individual state’s dairy regulatory agency, the U.S. dairy industry conducts almost 4 million tests each year on all milk entering dairy plants to ensure that antibiotics are kept out of the milk supply. All milk is tested for the most commonly used farm antibiotics (known as “beta lactams”); a complementary program randomly tests for less commonly used medicines.
    • FDA’s latest annual report confirmed this system is working. Only 0.014% (14 thousandths of 1%) of all truckloads of raw milk (445 out of 3.19 million) tested positive for antibiotics in 2013, down from 0.017% in 2012. This is the seventh year in a row that the figures improved. (FDA National Milk Residue Data Base, Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Report).
  • Scientists and medical experts are continuing to conduct an important dialogue about antibiotic resistance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and medical experts agree that human resistance problems are largely due to use or abuse of antibiotics in humans, not animals. Careful, judicious use of antibiotics is one of several important tools farmers and veterinarians use to keep animals healthy. This leads to a safer, more reliable milk supply.



Do dairy cows contribute to overall greenhouse gas emissions? What is being done about this?

  • The dairy community is committed to a healthier world by making products that are good for you and good for the earth. According to Cornell University, over the past 60 years, the dairy industry has reduced the carbon footprint of milk by 63%, thanks to improvements such as animal breeding, animal health programs, cow comfort and overall farm management practices.
  • The dairy industry is becoming greener by reducing its environmental impact through improved packaging, reduced energy and water use, and developing renewable energy sources. Dairy farms are finding new ways to reduce the energy they use, to conserve water, and to develop renewable energy sources.
  • The latest research shows that the U.S. dairy industry accounts for only about 2% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. We are working on ways to reduce that amount even more. U.S. dairy farms are working to improve animal feed efficiency and digestibility, to use methane digesters in manure management, and to improve carbon sequestration practices on pasture and cropland.
  • Visit for more information on the dairy industry’s commitment to sustainable food and agriculture.



Is dairy really needed as a protein source, seeing as there are now many alternatives out there that may be more healthful?

  • There’s just no substitute for dairy milk. Not only do Americans love milk (it’s in nearly all of our refrigerators), it’s naturally nutrient-rich like no other beverage. Penny for penny, ounce for ounce, milk delivers more nutrition than just about any other drink.
  • Substituting milk with other beverages such as a fortified soy drink or fortified orange juice can lead to gaps in intake for calcium and other key nutrients such as protein, phosphorus and B vitamins. In fact, each serving of milk provides 10 percent or more of the recommended daily intake for calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin and phosphorus.
  • Real milk is just that—milk, typically with added vitamins A and D. Other milk-like drinks have long lists of ingredients. Milk alternatives often use different methods and ingredients to fortify their products and there is no federal standard for the nutrient content of these products. All dairy milk delivers the same amount of nutrients.


Nutrition-Food Safety:

Is organic milk healthier and safer than conventional milk?

  • The definition of organic milk refers to farm management practices, not the milk itself. In terms of quality, safety and nutrition, there is no difference between organic and regular milk. Strict government standards ensure that both regular milk and organic milk are safe and nutritious. Organic and regular milk contain the same unique package of nutrients that makes dairy products an important part of a healthy diet.
  • Conventional dairy farmers use best management practices to ensure that dairy cows are healthy and well cared for by providing comfortable living conditions, nutritious diets and good veterinary care. Organic dairy farms use the best management practices as well but also must meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program. This includes, but is not limited to, cows that are exclusively fed organic feed, kept in pens with adequate space, allowed periodic access to the outdoors and direct sunlight, and are not treated with hormones or antibiotics. Dairy foods can be labeled “USDA Organic” only if all of these criteria are met.
  • Because there are fewer organic farms than conventional farms, the milk travels a greater distance to reach the consumer and is typically ultra-pasteurized or put through ultra-high temperature processing to preserve freshness. Most conventional milk got its start on a local, family-owned farm. Farm families have produced milk for America’s tables for decades and 98% of all U.S. farms are still owned by individuals and families.

Is raw milk healthier and safer than conventional milk?

  • Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized before consumption. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend drinking only pasteurized milk, because raw milk may contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Listeria and Salmonella that can cause life-threatening illnesses. This recommendation has been affirmed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others.
  • Pasteurization involves heating milk in properly designed and operated equipment to most commonly at least 161°F for at least 20 seconds followed by rapid cooling to 40°F. Proper pasteurization destroys bacteria, yeast and mold that may be associated with raw milk and also helps maintain freshness.
  • There is no scientific evidence to suggest that there is any meaningful difference in the nutritional value of pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. In addition, vitamin D, which is not found in significant amounts in raw milk, is added to processed milk, making it an even more nutritious product. Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency is a common problem in the United States affecting many Americans, especially those of Hispanic or African American descent. The addition of vitamin D makes pasteurized milk an excellent source of this essential nutrient providing 25% of the daily value in one 8 ounce serving.
  • Learn more about the CDC’s stance on raw milk.

Three Steps To Building Brand Advocates


I’m speaking at Dairy Strong conference tomorrow in Madison, WI on a panel about Dairy’s Online Image.

My co-panelists are the dairy farmer extraordinaire Dairy Carrie and Ketchum Public Relations partner Linda Eatherton.

We’ve actually done this same talk before at IDFA’s conference last year about this same time. Linda talks about how consumers’ minds have changed about food and what they are looking for. It’s a great talk about Food 2020 and how Food e-Vangelists exist and how to interact with them.

Carrie gives her insightful and humor-filled talk on how to become an advocate for farming and food. She’s a powerful communicator and has built up a substantial online following for her blog and social media channels.

My talk focuses on how companies build advocacy. Last year I concentrated on building advocates within your company but this year I’ve changed it to the basic steps of building brand advocates.

In my talk “Building Brand Advocates: Three Steps To Building Relationships and Loyalty,” there are just three steps to any advocacy program.


The problem I see with the many companies I chat with is that they look out in the wild for their brand advocates when, in fact, they usually already have them collected.

It’s in the email marketing system. If someone has signed up for your email newsletter, then you can pretty much guarantee they are interested in what you are doing.

If you want them to be a part of advocacy for your brand, all you have to do is ask or better yet incentivize them to share your messages. They are probably already doing it but you just don’t know about it.

The second place to go to find advocates is your own company and the industry overall. Most people are happy to be a part of the messaging if they love their job. And the good thing with the dairy industry, is that I find most people really, really love their jobs. It’s rewarding and the product is something most people love. Like cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese?

The third place I look is the internet. With social media, blogging and forums you can find many advocates on the web. Now collecting their information isn’t the easiest thing to do but if you take the time, build the relationship and then invite them into a rewarding advocacy program, you’d be surprised how willing most people are to share their love for your product.

There are several tools that allow you to do this like Sysomos Heartbeat, Visible, Salesforce Radian 6, Simply Measured or if you can’t pay there are tools like or Hootsuite.

Once you have all of your advocates you need to keep track of them and you shouldn’t really be doing this by hand with things like Excel or Google Spreadsheets. I would recommend using CRM products like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If your budget is a little lower there are lots of other tools that are priced lower like Zoho.


If an advocate loves your product, then they want more information about it as well as want to feel like they are part of the culture that loves the product. Getting them insider information is a great way to start off the relationship. You are trusting them with cool insights on what you are doing.

This is how you can start building a relationship of trust and loyalty. Be authentic and transparent as much as you can and if you aren’t for sure about what they want to know about, just ask them. They are part of the program and they won’t hold back.


Now here’s where it gets to be real fun for both you and your advocates. The main thing you need to remember here is that THIS RELATIONSHIP ISN’T ABOUT YOU and your products. Don’t just throw things at them like advertisements or coupons.

You need to treat them as special as possible. Give them coupons that they can give to their friends. This increases their social capital. Give them rewards when they talk – it doesn’t always have to be product. The brand giving them a shout out or acknowledging something cool they’ve done online about your brand.

You should try and gameify the program as well so they can see the other advocates and maybe even pit them against each other or the brand’s social profile. It’s fun to get points and likes and it holds them accountable to the advocacy program.

Make sure you are celebrating them over your products. Many brands are using user-generated content like photos, videos or stories that advocates produce as their commercials. Look at the Doritos or Lays. Great stuff. Taco Bell goes out of its way to follow only a select few superfans and to get on that list you need to be extraordinary Taco Bell lover.

Taking these steps will also help you generate new brand advocates because they will engage with them and they could potentially ask others to be a part of the program.


If you are just starting out, I recommend using your email marketing tied to your social media platforms. It’s simple enough to do.

  1. Use your current email marketing list and ask the current subscribers to sign up for the advocacy program (explain the benefits).
  2. Create a advocacy group on a platform like Facebook (make sure it’s closed) and send it to those who signed up via email.
  3. Use both email marketing and the group to get the word out.
  4. Track everything via websites and social listening tools.

If you want to take your advocacy program to the next level, I recommend partnering with an advocacy program company like Dynamic Signal, Social Chorus, Social Toaster or BzzAgent. There are also several companies that just focus on employees like Addvocate or Everybody’s Social.

Pretty simple, huh?

When it comes to the dairy industry, we have an advocacy program that gives you insider information about the happenings with the industry, that gives you an opportunity to be part of future dairy campaigns and that teach you how to be a better dairy advocate both online and off.

If you would like to join our program, just visit and sign up. We’ll be in touch.

So when it comes to advocacy programs, do you think these three steps are the basics of what you need? What do you think I missed?

Is dairy farming a one-sided conversation?

Do you ever feel that you are already on defense when you talk to someone about where their food comes from?

I do. And I’m not a farmer. But I work for dairy farmers and I’m passionate about making sure that their customers know they work hard, take care of their animals and produce a great product, which is made into some of the finest foods they can feast on like cheese, ice cream, yogurt, butter and just plain milk.

But when I get into conversations about what I do and who I work for, many new acquaintances and friends have a very different view of how their food is produced. Especially young people.

Why is that?

Well, I have a few thoughts on this and maybe you do too but I believe the biggest one is that they don’t normally go to farms.

You see, I was raised on one and my brother still farms back in Missouri so I know what happens on a farm. I’ve been there and seen that.

But many people haven’t.

Most of their knowledge of farms comes from other sources like the media. And they see most of that through the lens of the Internet via social media and search.

And if you’ve been out there on the web – searching and scanning through popular social feeds – you’ll notice that it’s pretty much a one-sided conversation.

But it doesn’t have to be.

In fact one of the most trusted voices is farmer, according to Pew Research. The unfortunate thing is that there isn’t a whole lot of farmers working the land like there used to be (less than 2% of Americans directly involved in farming) and even less spending much time talking to their customers about how they farm.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. And it doesn’t need to take up all your free time.

In fact, that little device (aka smartphone) you carry around with you to help connect you back to the house, to put in your data about the animals you are caring for, and as well as lets you play some pretty fun games like Candy Crush (everyone plays) can help you have a conversation with some of your favorite people – your customers.

I know you are on social networks (67% of rural areas are using social networks) and I know you chat with other farmers online (I follow your feeds).

But maybe you’re worried about the conversation or maybe even having a confrontation online with someone you don’t know.

Well, I’m not going to lie to you – it will probably happen. But there’s lots of help out here as well on how to handle it. I’ve written a blog post about arguing online.

In fact, I’m going to list a bunch of farmers and advocates below who you can depend on and reach out to if you need help myself included.

If we continue down a path of not joining the conversation then it’s going to keep going this way – one-sided and we’ll always be on the defense. Trust is built on relationships. Relationships are built through conversations.

We need you to help join us in the conversation. Will you?


Ask The Farmers


Dairy Carrie

Dairy Carrie


Will Gilmer

Will Gilmer


Trent Bown

Trent Bown


Ray Prock

Ray Prock


Tim Zweber

Tim Zweber


Emily Zweber

Emily Zweber



Carla Shelley



Krista Stauffer


Shannon Seifert

Shannon Seifert


Annie Link

Annie Link


Patty Leonard

Patty Leonard


Sarah Leonard

Sarah Leonard


Susan Anglin

Susan Anglin


Janet Bremer

Janet Bremer


Chris Heins

Chris Heins


Brenda Hastings

Brenda Hastings


Karen Rohnert

Karen Bohnert


Sutton Rucks

Sutton Rucks


LuAnn Trowel

LuAnn Troxel


Mary Mackinson Faber

Mary Mackinson Faber


Becky Bode

Becky Bode


Seena Glessing

Seena Glessing


Jennifer Lewis

Jennifer Lewis


Sun-Ton Farms

Sun-Ton Farms


Postmodern Farmer

Postmodern Farmer


Joanna Lidback

Joanna Lidback


These are a great bunch of guys and gals who are always happy to help the conversation continue – that are making the extra effort (by the way, if I missed you and you want to be added to the group – just email me) and are willing to put themselves out there so their customers can chat directly with them.

It’s really the only way to communicate anymore and it’s really the way it should be. I love talking directly with the person I’ve buying from – that I’m trusting with my food – and everyone expects it.

Are you ready to join the conversation?





12 Days of the Best Christmas Cookies

So I’ve been abusing my friends and family with pictures of 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. One of our VPs (Camellia Patey) worked so hard every day to bring these in and so I’m celebrating them altogether here as well as providing the 2014 12 Days of Christmas Cookies recipes she used.  Enjoy. Oh, and don’t forget the milk. It makes them all that much better. #dairygood

Day 1 – Classic Butter Cookie with Holiday Cutouts

After a weekend of eating straight I come in to work to this? #nomorefood #foodhangover

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 2 – Pecan Tassies

Pecan Tassies – are you kidding me? #worksnacks

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 3 – Crescents


Day 4 – Snickerdoodles


I didn’t get a pic of these.


Day 5 – Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cookies

I don’t know what the silver things are but I’m eating them. #cookies

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 6 – Chocolate Crinkle

Chocolate Crinkles are my favorite! #christmascookies #worksnacks

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 7 – Coconut Thai Lime Snowballs

Coconut Thai Lime Snowballs so good

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 8 – Peanut Blossoms

Peanut Blossoms. #christmascookies #worksnacks

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 9 – Double Chocolate Chunk

Double chocolate chunk #christmascookies #worksnacks #breakfast #milklife

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 10 – Caramel Sandies by the Sea

Wow, these might be my new fav. Caramel Sandies by the Sea #christmascookies #worksnacks

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 11 – Pralines

Pralines! #christmascookies #worksnacks #yum

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on


Day 12 – Lemon Bars

Lemon bars! Yum!

A photo posted by Don Schindler (@donschindler) on

Can’t wait until next year!

2015 Consumer Insights or What To Do About The Modern Mobile And Social Media Wielding Customer

When it comes to insights on today’s consumer, there are a lot of experts out there giving some expert opinion. I don’t consider myself one of them. But I do read a ton on the subject and I’ve gathered these nuggets.

From Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s book, Age of Context, there are several trends converging that will definitely define the next generation of products and services.

Social, Mobile, Big Data, Sensors, GPS Location.

With social, we spend more time doing that online than anything one thing – hence the popularity of Facebook and Twitter.

With mobile, we spend more time looking at our smartphones than our TVs. And guess what? We carry that device with us more than any other one thing. It used to be my wallet but that doesn’t even make it to my bedside table.

With big data, we have the opportunity to collect more digital information about our customers than ever. Buying trends matched with demographics, psychographics, and lifestyle can bring back some very predictive analysis of future trends.

With sensors, we are capturing more information about ourselves and using that to help maintain better lives – sleep, activity, location, food intake and giving this information to the web and the companies that promise to help us make better choices.

With GPS location, we can get better routes home to avoid traffic but it also gives insight to the companies trying to advertise to us exactly where we are and what we are doing.

Now all of this may seem very big brotherish but I believe it’s actually going to help us keep from wasting time and making poor decisions without all the right information.



So a big customer insight is the Moment of Need.

The Moment of Need is when the customer figures out they have a problem and they need a solution immediately – where do they go? They touch the nearest device and expect the answer to be right there.


The Moment of Need

The customer tells us this:

I need the information right now, no matter what device I’m using. It needs to help me and, BTW, I need to find interesting and in terms I understand. GOT THAT? LOL

So let’s breakdown what the customer said into bite-size chunks that we can work with.

Digital is overtaking the physical world. Understanding how search engines and social media work is crucial in the digital landscape. If you can’t get found organically, it’s time to pony up and buy it. What should you buy? The terms that you want to be found for.

Your website or social properties should look great no matter what device the customer is using. Is your website using responsive design or is at least mobile friendly? Can I operate it with my thumb? Would it be better to have an application instead of relying on the web?

I love my friend, Jay Baer, advice here. Stop getting in the way and make yourself useful. Don’t just talk about yourself and the problems only you solve. Talk about the industry you are in, the problems the industry faces, help them solve their problems even if you aren’t the solution to that specific issue. They will remember the help you gave them.

Corporate speak is dead as well as logos. Your people are your best shot at staying relevant. If your people are your best assets, then why hide them behind a logo?

You need to set a voice for the company that matches the brand and then open up your staff to have a voice but teach them the best ways to do it with communications and social media training. And when they screw up as they most certainly will, then give them some place to go if they get in trouble like the PR and HR teams. Help them be proactive not reactive to your industry with a voice that is authentic.

Now the the Moment of Need has occurred, the next insight pops in. The Moment of Need plus Emotion and Logic Balance.


Customers need approval to satisfy both emotion and logic.

What is Emotion/Logic Balance? It’s the time in which the customer takes the time to justify his emotional need for the product or service with the logical side. He is searching for approval of his choice and he will find it.

The customer tells us now:

I need to know if this is the right thing to buy? What do the experts say? Do my friends’ approve? Is it the right price? Can I get it cheaper?

Reviews from strangers count almost as much as reviews from friends. If you talk a lot about the product and service or about the industry, then you probably are expert at helping them make this choice for them.

People will refer to more experts as the cost of the product/service goes up so you need to be in multiple locations giving advice. And they will pay attention to the expert’s own reviews. Guess who is trusted the most – the academic/industry expert and a person like yourself according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer.

When you make it easy for them to ask their friends if they would approve of them buying your product, you are asking them to show you off. Would they? Yes, they want to.

This is why demoing product/services are so popular as well as taking things back if they don’t like them (Zappos model). This is also why beta invitations are so popular. They get to show off to their friends that they are now “in” and have the potential of letting them in as well adding to their social currency.

Back in the day you didn’t have to worry about video recorders and camera that could instantly spread information via social networks. Customers now think they have the right to know what’s going on behind the closed doors and with more companies showing what is happening behind the scenes, then a customers trust goes up.

But for those that don’t, customers get a lot more suspicious than in the past. You can’t just say trust us anymore. You need to think more along the lines of “We’ll prove it to you so you can trust us.”


Everyone wants to be treated special because they are special.

So we have the Moment of Need combined with the Emotion and Logic Balance and finished with White Glove Love.

What do I mean by White Glove Love? This is the customer experience matching the promises that were made via the Moment of Need and the Emotion/Logic Balance.

The customer says now:

Why can’t I just click to buy? Or press to buy? Or snapchat to buy? I want it today, can I pick it up now? Wow, so I got it – did you ever think of doing this with it? Now I don’t like it, you better take it back.

The less fields, the better. Or how about no fields and I just touch my phone? Consumers love to buy as quickly as possible to get on with their lives.

If they really love the product, chances are they are going to tell you. Or show you how they are using it. Maybe it’s in ways you didn’t even envision. Make sure you are open to their feedback and if they want to recommend ways to improve it, be open to those. It will probably improve the product/service even more.

The support call trees and email routing black holes are going the way of the dinosaurs. They want to talk to real people. They expect the product to do what you said it can do. They want their money back if they don’t have a receipt or it was a gift. Those that serve quickly and friendly, win over those with obstacles to climb.

With the power that customers have nowadays, I don’t see these trends and insights going away – in fact I see most of them as getting bigger and taking over more budget.

For example, I believe that customer experience and service will be the driving force of many products and service – it’s why you see many CMOs driving a customer-centric model.

Here’s a few takeaways to remember.

  1. Social and mobile are currently transforming all communications and marketing and are going to grow exponentially.
  2. Your customers will lead your company unless you meet their digital demands.
  3. You can get ahead of the competition if you adopt a digital mindset with your communications.

So what do you think? Am I missing the boat or did I miss a few crucial insights? Let me know and I’m happy to add them.

Need a Simple Communications Plan, Simple Creative Brief and Simple Audience Chart?


Simple Communications Plan

Need a Simple Communications Plan for your Marketing Campaign?

How about a Simple Creative Brief to go with it?

Maybe even a Simple Audience Chart to figure out what you are going to say via your simple tactic.

I used to not do this. In my past, I just simply overdid it. I would forget the KISS principle and build massive documents (strategic plans, communication plans, creative briefs) that could have been made into small novels and no one could comprehend. Then I would wonder why my ideas fell on deaf ears.


Simple Creative Brief

Being here at the university for just over a year, I’ve decide to cut down the amount of marketing terms, charts, powerpoints and pitches. I just want to make it simple for my clients to understand. I wish I would have done this years ago.

So here are a few charts that I think can help you. A couple of them I “borrowed” from friends here at the university. Like Joyce Lantz in Admissions. She’s a smart cookie so I took her Simple Communications Plan and made it into my own. It’s so easy to follow.

And the Simple Sample Creative Brief is my own but cut way down from the original. Most of my old creative briefs started with five pages of marketing terms and stats. Now, it’s a one pager and people get it. And guess what, they are quicker to sign it so we can get going on the project.


Simple Audience Chart

Finally, we have a few more tools available to you. I’ve also included an Audience Chart made by our own VP of Marketing Todd Woodward. This is great for figuring out what you want to say the audience by figuring out what you want them to do. Now, that’s important. Most people start talking to people before figuring out what you want them to do for you.

So how do you use them together?

  1. Use the Simple Audience Chart.
  2. Figure out the tactics you will want to use (you know, like your website, email newsletters, social media, flyers, advertising, etc…).
  3. Use the Simple Creative Brief to define the tactics.
  4. Use the Simple Communication Plan to define when you want to use the tactics.

When you put this all together, you’ve basically built your Marketing Strategy and Campaign.

Now, I have a lot of friends that will probably debate me on this but really for a small enterprise like a department, institute, club or center. This is pretty good. You can always make it more complicated and bigger later.

And this is not what I would use for a large School or for my beloved University of Notre Dame master brand.

So download and have fun. Give me some feedback of what worked for you and what didn’t.

If you want to share your favorite marketing spreadsheets and document templates, please do so. I may adopt them and write about how great you are.

How do people find you on the Internet when they don’t even know you exist?

Of course, the answer is via Search Engines (which is really just Google) or via Social Media.

When it comes to being found, you should think of Google as your home page – not your blog’s home page. Because if someone doesn’t know you they aren’t going to search for you – they are searching for what they want to know about which is hopefully what you are writing about.

i.e. They are looking for answers – maybe they hear something about pus in cow’s milk. You, as a dairy farmer, are an expert in cow’s milk. If you write about it then hopefully they will find it.


Google Search Engine Results Page

But that doesn’t mean that just because you wrote down what you know or maybe did a little video about it that Google will magically put you at the top of the topic you are taking about.

In fact, there are over 200 different factors that Google has in its algorithm to determine who makes it to the top of their search page called SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

So how do you know what topics you rank for right now?

You need Google Webmaster Tools installed on your website or blog.



Search Queries that lead to people finding your website

Once in Webmaster Tools, you can see a lot of information about your website – what you are ranking for, what impressions you have, what missing pages or broken links you have, etc… This tool is a must if you plan on understanding anything about your website and SEO. So go install it now and then come back. I’ll wait. Seriously.

Once you have your webmaster tools installed (you did it, right?). Don’t just cheat and keep reading. Let’s talk about SEO.

First, what is SEO?

Well, according to the guys at Moz who rock at SEO, they say that SEO or Search Engine Optimization “is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.”

I will try to simplify it by saying doing SEO is like learning the search engine language. You speak English or Spanish or whatever to the people around you and they understand what you are saying. You need to do the same thing for Google. SEO is Google’s language and the better you are at speaking to Google, the higher your chances are for showing up at the top of their SERP.

BTW, does it matter if you are on the first page of a search term?


If you are on Page 2 then you might as well be non-existent. The first page means everything – very, very few people move past the first page.

The search query is a term within SEO you should be familiar with. This is what people type or speak into the search box.

Now search queries have changed over the years – it used to be that people only used a few words when typing into Google. But now, people speak or type entire sentences and they revise a lot when they aren’t getting the results they want.


Google Autocomplete

You may have noticed that Google uses Autocomplete to try and guess what people are looking for – and they are getting very smart and accurate about these search queries. They will present you a list of 3 or 4 options as you go along and try to lead you in your search pursuits.

Blogging tip – write blog posts based on other people’s search queries and you could find yourself getting more traffic.

So those websites that show up at the top of the search queries on SERPs, how do they get there? How is Google ranking these websites?

Well, there are a lot of factors and Google gives you a high level explanation of search on this website.


60 trillion web pages and growing!

But I would say there are just a few things you should worry about.

Google loves relevancy and popularity combined with your location. Pretty simple, huh?

Actually, it’s a lot more complex and if you want to see how the SEO experts break it down, you can check out the Search Engine Ranking Factors from

But here’s how I would define.

Relevancy – means how much you talk about your topic.

Popularity – means you have a lot of links to your website from outside sources that say you are a trusted source for this topic. It also means more likes and shares from popular social networks (Google+ is the highest so that can help you decide whether you need to be using that ghost town of a network) and the power of the pages that are linking to you.

With popularity, there are also negative things to consider and that might work against you. If you add lots of videos (not embedded from YouTube – those don’t count) and images on the page causing it to load slow that could be a problem.  Or if you have links coming from websites that are known to be spam or maybe you have URLs with a lot of numbers and your URLs are very long. Google has issues with these things.

Location – the closer you are to the person searching, the better chance you have to coming up. This works really well for local shops and restaurants.

So this is a lot of stuff and you probably don’t have a lot of time to learn a lot of new stuff and do a lot of new stuff. It’s hard enough just coming up with new content so I’ve made a quick and dirty list of SEO things that you should know.

How to do SEO for yourself quickly.

1. Don’t DIY your website. – I know that a lot of people who like to have things look their way on their websites/blogs but you are better off to pick a popular well-used template and install that vs. hiring a graphic designer / coder who may not understand SEO very well.

They could set up your website with some bad SEO practices and then you’ll be hiding things from Google by accident.

2. Install Google Webmaster Tools on your website. – This will help you tremendously in determining how Google views your website. Yes, I’m repeating myself here – it’s that important.

3. Use Xena or Screaming Frog to check for broken links. – Even Google Webmaster Tools can help you find broken links. Once you find them, try and fix them.

4. If you are using wordpress (not or blogger/blogspot), you can use SEO by Yoast to help you fill in the necessary meta data. – Many websites I notice have the same meta data for each page of the website – meta data should be different for each page – that is an easy fix and benefits the website a lot.

5. Make sure you are spreading your blog posts across multiple networks as well as email if you have that. – Your post isn’t done when you hit Publish – it’s just starting. You need to actively push the post through your social networks to your audience. Some cool tools to help you do this are Buffer or Social Oompf.


Alt. Tags are very important!

6. When adding images and video to your blog, make sure you are adding Alt. Text, Captions and Titles as well as naming the image and video with keywords of what it is. When I build a photo or image for my blog, here are the steps I follow.

  1. Make the photo/image.
  2. Label the photo using keywords with dashes. Like an image of our offices might be labeled dairy-management-inc-newsroom-2014.jpg
  3. Upload to my blog.
  4. Put in the meta data and the caption.
  5. Mark it as the featured image on the page (if necessary due to the template)
  6. Make sure when I share the blog post on social media that the image comes up as part of that post and not the other images on the page.

7. Guest blog on other websites and link back to yourself via your bio. – Guest blogging can sometimes be difficult to do because you have to have trusted relationships with those in charge of the blog you want to be a part of but trust me if you get the opportunity you should do it (but only on websites that are associated with the same topics as your website). Google is cracking down on guest blogging black hat techniques so be aware of that.

How do you begin guest blogging? Follow the blogs you want to be on and reach out. Simply Google things like “best farming blogs to follow”, “best food posts 2014”, “top agriculture blogs to follow”, etc… They will pop up.

8. Take some time and add your website to directories and lists. – Is your blog listed in any directories or lists? It should be. There are many places to add your blog and make sure it gets listed. You can also use tools to “ping” these directories to let them know you updated your post recently like Pingomatic.

9. Longer text is found more often than short posts. – People are scanning the internet still – but they want deeper content. Writing over 1000 words can seem like a lot but I’ll bet if you get going on a post, the words will just flow.

You should edit and keep people interested (adding images and video will do that) but a longer post will be seen as more relevant – that you put more time into it and has a better chance of being linked to and indexed by Google.

10. Quote the experts in the field you want people to find out about you. – If it’s about farming, there’s nothing wrong with quoting from other farmers, government, organizations, foodies, etc…

This marketing technique of calling out the most popular people on the internet has been going on forever but it still works. A lot of real celebrities will probably ignore you since they rely on other media to generate their popularity but internet famous people are usually right there to talk to and get information from. They are also usually very aware when someone talks about them online because they are using monitoring tools like or BTW, you should start using them too to monitor when people talk about you.

How do you measure this is working?
Google Webmaster Tools combined with Google Analytics will help you answer this question but that’s another post coming down the road.

What about you guys? Any fun tips for handling SEO on your blogs?

Can tech save your relationship?


Bay Bridge by David Yu ( CC)

I’m a big believer in marketing technology and social media. But I hear a lot of naysaying when it comes to building real relationships with people. They say they wish people would put those devices down and start talking to the folks around them.

Now I agree that we all need a break sometimes. I get a crick in my neck sometimes from starting down at my phone too long.

And a text messaging conversation isn’t the same as sitting down with someone and chatting over coffee.

OK, I’ll give you it’s missing the body language – an emoji just isn’t up to par.

But how else are you going to talk to your customers directly?

Are you going to take the time to drive into the city and find them?

Do you think they would stop their day to chat? (They might. A lot of them really like farmers.)

Throes of people are moving to the cities and out of the country. Most people are three or more generations removed from the farm and food production.

In the past, people were deeply connected to the farms around them because this is where they got their food and where some of their relations lived – but that’s not the case anymore.

Recently there was a New York City farm tour where farmers came into the local groceries to talk directly with customers – I applaud that. It’s great. Is it scalable? Does everyone have the time to drop what they are doing and make the case?

Or can you pull out your smart phone and connect via social media to your customers?

Granted it will take more time to form a trusted relationship but you can do it. Just be yourself and telling your story can do a lot – but remember to listen to their story as well.

Be open and answer their questions. And they have quite a few.

These computers in our pockets (over 2/3 of Americans have them) are the driving force of daily information.

Did you know the average worker checks their email 9.6 times an hour?

If it is going to be in their face, why don’t you be part of what they are looking at? BTW, they love looking at animals – cats, dogs, cows, pigs, horses.


Karen Bohnert from Kansas shares pics on Instagram

And you are the expert in farming, right?

You know your farm. You can tell them and show them what’s happening right now.

The relationships you have with your animals. The time you spend in the field and the barn. The struggles and the success. All to help fuel them so they can do what they love – which might not have anything to do with food production.

Tech can bridge the gap that is building between city life and farm life. Now it’s up to you whether you want to cross it or not?

If you go, we’ve got plenty of help for you via training and one-on-one advice. Just reach out, we are here to help.

How do you get more followers on Twitter?


Follow Me On Twitter!

After you’ve been using twitter for a while, you tend to slow down in follower gains. You usually get a burst of attention, gain 100 or so followers and then it drops off and you’ll only gain a few followers every week if that.

So how do you get more people to follow you?

The main thing is being an active member of the larger Twitter community. Here are my slides from my Twitter 201 class that I’m teaching during National Dairy Board’s Joint Annual Meeting at the Gaylord Hotel.




Active members add more content – contributing to the conversations online.

I recommend adding video and images if you can – farmers have the best pictures (there’s so much to see on the farm) and your consumers definitely love to check it out.

Video and images don’t need to be perfect but they do need to be real. Posing is ok for stock photos but showing the nitty-gritty of life on the farm is where it’s at.

@gilmerdairy (Will Gilmer) has really mastered the art of sharing videos and pictures of his farm geared for his customer (not other farmers). He answers all the questions that pop up in the comments as well.

Active members join twitter chats – they get involved instead of just stalking, retweeting or favoriting.

While this can get you noticed, you’ll gain more followers by having an opinion (a respectful opinion, mind you) and be open to having a conversation about your opinion.

@dairycarrie (Carrie Mess) offers her thoughts and opinions and it’s really worked to gain her a following.

Active members know the trends that are happening – you don’t need to jump into Justin Bieber’s antics but if the trend matches, why not jump into the conversation. This isn’t about Newsjacking – it’s about relevant insights to the trends.

Use Trends24 to see what’s going on or Trendsmap to find out what’s happening in your area.

Hashtagify will help you once you have entered in a popular hashtag to see what other hashtags people are using as well. It’s also got a pretty cool interface to play with.

Active members frequently engage with their twitter followers – when it comes to engaging with Twitter, I don’t use anymore. While I think the Twitter app for iPhone isn’t bad, I normally use other apps as well to engage. Here are a few of my favorites.

Hootsuite – this website is how I engage with my Twitter Lists (What’s a Twitter List? It’s the only way to manage who you are following and here’s how to set them up).

Hootsuite also allows you to send content to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks. This just makes it easier sometimes when you want to share and don’t want to jump to other applications.

Tweetdeck is another favorite of mine. This is actually an application so you don’t need a browser window open. Much like Hootsuite you can manage lists and conversations.

Tweetcaster, Hootsuite and Twitter mobile applications are what I use on my iPhone. Each serve a different purpose and all are free. I really like how Tweetcaster is set up but it’s your choice on how you want to engage.

Within Hootsuite, I’ve also set up a separate list for just questions people might be tweeting. If you add a “stream” and then select “search” and put in terms like “chocolate milk” or “dairy farming” and then add a ?, you’ll start seeing questions from people about these topics. What a great way to jump into a conversation with someone as the expert (which you are).

Another way to gain more followers is to get yourself out on some Twitter directories. Let’s face it – the search on Twitter isn’t that great but you can set yourself up to be found by getting your profile on these lists.

A couple of prominent lists are Twellow and WeFollow. Add yourself the categories and you’ll see more followers headed your way – especially for farmers. There are so few categories and farmers out there.

Another tip is to use Twiangulate to see who is following other people that you might want to follow. I dropped Ray Prock and Dairy Carrie into Triangulate to see who was following both of them. Not as many as you would think but you can then see who it is and follow them.

Once you are following a lot of people (you can follow up to 2000 without having any followers – after that it is a certain percentage that you need to have following you back to be able to follow more – this keeps the spam down), you’ll want to use a third party website to analyze your followers/following and then clean it up from time to time. No need to follow people who aren’t tweeting anymore. Manageflitter and Tweepi are a couple of my favorites as well as tweet.

Analyzing your content is also a great thing and will help you learn what works and what doesn’t on Twitter. I really like Twitter Ads – just click on the analytics tab to see how you are doing. There’s also Twtrland (which can also help you find people to follow) and Twitonomy.

Tweetreach is a fun tool as well to see how many people have seen the hashtags you are using.

Finally, using hashtag aggregator tools like Tagboard and Hashtagr can help you pull all the content around a hashtag to see if it’s something you want to amplify or just see what’s popular and give you ideas about what to be posting.

So what are your favorite ways of getting more followers on Twitter? I’d be happy to share them here.

Is public trust of farming and agriculture going up or down?

how-americans-feel-about-farming Using a new tool called, I created this quick little interactive infographic to see how long it would take to build an interesting set of stats.

It only took a few minutes and I’m happy with the results.

So what do you think, up or down – to me, it says farming and agriculture is an industry I trust. They feed me several times a day and while sometimes there are food recalls, I’m not scared of anything in my kitchen.

Great job, farmers. I really appreciate the hard work you do along with the food industry.

All data was taken from Gallup Polls. Great company, good data.

Why is my Google Maps, Chrome and iMessage breaking on my iPhone?

google-search-app I’ve been searching for the answer for weeks with my iPhone. It was driving me crazy.

First, it was Chrome. I would open the app and nothing would work. Then my Google Maps app (which I rely on heavily) wouldn’t work. And if I went to Apple Maps, it wouldn’t work either.

Then quickly after that, my iMessage would stop working correctly as well. The notifications badge wouldn’t clear.

Here’s what fixed the problem. I had deleted my original Google Search app. With it gone, none of the other apps would work correctly unless I shut down the phone and restarted.

Once I added the Google Search App back and logged back in, everything has been fine.

Are You Ready To Join The Social Media Revolution at the 2014 Joint Annual Meeting?


Don Schindler and Jamie Vander Molen are DMI Communication Trainers

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are places where your customers are taking about their experiences with dairy. DMI is excited to bring you customized social media training just for the dairy industry.

On Oct. 29, Jamie and I will be teaching social media and digital communications from 2:15 – 5 pm at Partners in Progress, The 2014 Joint Annual Meeting of National Dairy Board, National Milk Producers Federation and United Dairy Industry Association.

Classes are free and first come, first serve (classrooms hold about 25 people). Laptops are encouraged but you can also bring your tablet or smart phone. You can sign up by visiting the Registration Desk or just come to the classroom.

Starting With Twitter – 2:15-3 pm (Jamie)
If you’ve ever wondered what this twitter thing is all about and want to use it, this workshop is for you. You will learn how to set up a profile, how to follow other people, what it means when you are followed, how to put people into lists andwhat the terms/language of Twitter means (i.e., hashtags, @, and DM).

Interested in Pinterest? – 3:15-4 pm (Jamie)
Have you looked through Pinterest but aren’t for sure how to get involved. This workshop is for those who want to set up and create a Pinterest profile to help them engage dairy advocates and promote dairy products. We will go over how Pinterest works, how to pin images and videos, how to set up boards and how to share across your other social media networks.

Picture Yourself Using Instagram – 4:15-5 pm (Jamie)
Have you ever wondered what your kids were doing on Instagram besides staying off of Facebook? Instagram is the social network that is built on the photos you take. This workshop is for those who want to set up a profile, learn how to take good photos and share them, and get the basics on hashtagging.

Cultivating Your Farm Online – 2:15-3 pm (Don)
Have you ever “googled” your farm name? Is it what you want people to see? Did you know you can change what comes up? You’ll get the answers from this workshop on how to control how your farm looks online as well as your personal information.

Advanced Twitter Conversations – 3:15-4 pm (Don)
This advanced workshop is for those who have already using twitter to advocate and protect dairy and their farms and you want to go to the next level. You will learn how to use other third party applications (Hootsuite, FollowerWonk, Twtrland, Bufferapp, etc…) to grow your twitter following, to schedule your tweets, to use trends to get found and retweeted.

Building A Facebook Farm Page – 4:15-5 pm (Don)
This workshop is for those who want to start and manage a Facebook Page for their farm. We’ll go over Facebook Page tips and tricks to gain more “likes”, engagement and how to handle negative feedback. We’ll also touch on analytics and proper set-up.

After attending our sessions, we guarantee you’ll feel more comfortable advocating for your products and farm online. Sign up at Registration Desk or just come to the classroom.

Social Media and Communication Training Courses for Dairy Farmers


Talking too much to the cows? Social Media Training can help you talk directly with your customers.

Want to learn how to use Facebook or Twitter to better communicate with your dairy customers? Or maybe how to use LinkedIn to connect with other businessman. These courses provide the “How To’s” as well as tips and tricks to help promote and protect your farm.

If you have any questions about the trainings provided below, feel free to contact me at don.schindler (at) or You can also find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.



Blogging 101 – 13 Steps to Getting Started with a Blog
Blogging 201 – How do you set up a blog on or transfer your website to


Branding 101 – How do you create and build a personal brand?


Evernote 101 – Why can’t I use paper for notes anymore?


Facebook 101 – How Do You Sign Up for Facebook? Part 1
Facebook 101 – How Do I Change My Facebook Security and Privacy Settings? Part 2
Facebook 101 – How Do I Friend Someone on Facebook and Put Them in a List? Part 3
Facebook 101 – How do you post to Facebook? Part 4
Facebook 101 – What should you be posting on Facebook – Part 5

Facebook 201 – What should you be posting on your Facebook Farm Page?
Facebook 201 – How Do Set Up Your Facebook Page for Your Family Farm?

Google Analytics

Google Analytics
Google Analytics 101 – How Should You Set Up Your Google Analytics Dashboard for Your Farm Website?
Google Analytics 101 – How Do You Set Up a Goal in Google Analytics?


Instagram 101 – How to setup Instagram for yourself or your farm
Instagram 101 – Why should you use Instagram for your farm or business?


LinkedIn 101 – Six Reasons on Why You Should be Using LinkedIn for Yourself and Your Farm
LinkedIn 101 – Five Simple Steps on How to Set Up a LinkedIn Profile

Negative Comments

Negative Comments
Negative Comments 101 – Are negative comments really negative? Sure they are but you can change them.
Negative Comments 101 – How to deal with negative comments with a Social Media Response Flowchart
Negative Comments 201 – How Should You React to Cyberbullying – When Negative Comments Turn Ugly

Photo Editing

Photo Editing
Photo Editing 101 – How do I edit a photo online for free? Use picmonkey in 7 easy steps


Pinterest 101 – How Do You Use Pinterest?
Pinterest 101 – What are the best tips on using Pinterest for your farm or business?


Twitter 101 – Why you should be using Twitter for your farm
Twitter 101 – How to Set Up Twitter for Your Family Farm in Six Simple Steps

Web Audits & Metrics

Web Audit and Metrics
Web Audit 101 – How Do You Conduct a Digital Audit? – Part One: Website
Web Metrics 101 – Which social media marketing metrics should I be measuring?

Web Writing

Web Writing
Web Writing 101 – How Do You Write for the Web?
Web Writing 101 – Why aren’t you using these top six simple headline techniques?


YouTube 101 – What Can YouTube Do For Your Farm or Business?
YouTube 101 – How do you set up a YouTube Channel for your farm or business?

I’ll be adding more classes as I go along. If you have a request or question, don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Four Slides Your Audience Wants In Your Presentation

I always use a lot of slides (mostly picture slides with very, very little text) and I do like some graphs if they are easy to understand. But when it comes to a business presentation, there are really only four slides that mean anything to your audience. And your presentation is all about your AUDIENCE so you need to give it to them. Or suffer the consequences. Let me use President Kennedy’s Address at Rice University as an example. You probably know it well.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon… (interrupted by applause) we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. – President Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1962 (wikisource)


We choose to go to the moon. – Photo courtesy of NASA

What we are going to do.

You can skip the formality of telling your audience how you got to your conclusion – only a few people really care.  Most people just want to know what is going to happen. President Kennedy just laid out what we are going to do – go to the moon.


This challenge will be hard but it will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies. – Photo Courtesy of NASA

What does this mean to you.

Then, of course, if you tell them what we are going to do – all that matters to them is how is this going to affect them. This question will run through their heads until you answer it. If you don’t answer it specifically, they will begin to envision all sorts of scenarios about how they will be impacted (mostly negative). President Kennedy told them what it was going to mean to them. It’s going to be hard but it will organize them and give them a measure of accomplishment.


We accept and intend to win the space race. – Photo courtesy of NASA.

What’s in it for you.

This is why they are listening in the first place. You know, because if they don’t think there’s anything in the presentation then they aren’t going to be present in the room (they will be looking at their phones and answering email or texting or just scrolling through their Twitter feed for something a heckuva lot more interesting than you – they probably won’t find it but at least it’s better than paying attention). President Kennedy told them what was in it for them. You get to win the space race. Bragging rights forever.


We need your best. – Photo courtesy of NASA.

What we need from you.

These are their next steps and I can’t believe how many times I miss this in my decks. It’s just so simple. Tell them what you need from them and they’ll decide if they are going to give it to you. But if you don’t put this simple slide in, people will walk away saying, “that was a pretty good presentation” and then go right back to doing what they’ve always been doing. If you don’t have that slide, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. President Kennedy told them what he needed. He needed their best to accomplish this (and the $5.4 billion dollar budget). Now he’s a little vague here but that’s ok. You can tell people that you need their best and then get a bit more specific about what their best means. Did he end with “Any questions?” Many people end with “Any questions?” If you do and you are missing any of these slides above, you’ll get a lot of questions and you’ll be wondering why they didn’t get the answers from your presentation.  If you make sure that you have these four slides then you won’t have that problem. BTW, don’t end with the “Questions” slide. You can have a “questions” slide but make sure your last slide contains your key takeaways and your call-to-action (contact me, right?). What slides do you always have in your presentations?

Which social media marketing metrics should I be measuring?


Learning who your advocates are and starting a relationship with them is the most important thing.

Everything should lead back to sales if it can.

So you need to know what the definition of sales is for your organization.

Is it a specific product or service? Or is it getting people to an event?

Whatever it is, you should tie that to your efforts.

Once you have that defined, then you calculate your costs for each of your marketing pieces. Add them altogether and that’s your marketing spend.

Take your marketing sales (return), subract your marketing investment, and divide by the investment.

(Return – Investment)

So if your return is $30,000 and you spent $10,000 on your marketing, you would have an ROI of 2. But if your return was $15,000 on the same spend amount, you would have an ROI of .5. You want to try and maintain an ROI over 1.

Now this is a little different for us in the dairy industry when we don’t have a specific product to sell in a specific area – we are beholden to all dairy products.

So how would I measure our success?

I believe it is through Share of Voice and our Advocate Program.



Consumers have thousands of choices to make daily.

What is Share of Voice?

Quantitative: This is an overall number evaluation. i.e. if milk is mentioned among 10 times per every 100 references to our market (including competitors over the same time period), the share of voice would be 10%.

Qualitative: This is a quality analysis of the number evaluation placements. i.e. if milk gets mentioned in the NYT or Washington Post or CNN/Fox News, then it gets scored higher than if it was mentioned by a blogger website. The reach of the Tier 1 is much higher than the Tier 2 website.

Tone: Was it positive or negative? This is difficult to do for machine analysis because many things we say when we use negative terms actually could mean we really like it. i.e. I could kill for some ice cream.

There are lots of things that could influence Share of Voice.

I believe that if we create more online advocates, we could help positively influence our Share of Voice to the positive.

And if there’s more Share of Voice to the positive, we could increase sales.

But remember this is only one of things influencing our Consumer Confidence efforts.

So I would focus my metrics on building advocates.

Who are our advocates?

People that love dairy products and don’t mind voicing their favorable opinion of them. We know that many people love our products – milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream and whey. Good stuff, right?

Many people probably don’t know, however, that there are lots of people out there voicing their opinions about how much they dislike all of these things. Does it have an effect on sales? Most definitely. Especially as younger generations turn to the web to get information on the things they think they should be consuming and liking. Check out this report from Zuberance about the importance of advocates in your marketing.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Your CRM tool is your favorite marketing tool when it comes to your advocates. It can hold their contact information and the notes on your conversations with them. It can track your interactions with them whether these be via email or social media.

So the main metric you want to be tracking in the CRM is “are you adding more advocates with their correct information?”

There are lots of ways to get an advocate’s information into the CRM and we’ll discuss that in another post.

Email Marketing (Newsletter/blasts)
Email marketing is still one of the most efficient and effective ways to market. So this would be my next best metric when it comes to outreach for share of voice. Email metrics I would track are:

  • Sends: How many emails are you sending?
  • Click-Throughs: Are advocates clicking on the Call-to-Action in the specific email?

Website Stats
Of course this is your home on the Internet – is it doing what it can to capture those advocates that visit?

  • Email Collection – The main Call-to-Action is getting them into your CRM database so you can email them when you need to.
  • Traffic – Your web traffic helps see how often people are visiting and what they are doing once there. More visitors are great but look to make sure they are spending quality time.
  • Traffic Referrals – Where are people coming from? Google, direct, email, social media? You can measure all of this and should.

Social Media
Social media is still a bright and shining star in communication vehicles. You need to be there because people expect it especially to answer questions and keep them entertained with humor, recipes and insights into our products and how they are produced.

  • Click-Throughs to CRM – Are you engaging the advocates, and creating a stronger relationships through email and social media?
  • Engagement – How often are they sharing, commenting and liking your content?
  • Follows/Likes – How many people are liking your Facebook, following your Twitter profile or following your Pinterest and/or Instagram profiles?

So these are a few things that I would be interested in reporting out. I think it’s dangerous to really push things like impressions and reach (especially the numbers coming from Facebook and Twitter) because they aren’t going to be at the same level as traditional media reach (TV, radio, newspaper) but those are overblown as well.

Stick to what you have – to me, this means growing your number of advocates and getting them in your Word of Mouth Advocacy Program to influence positive Share of Voice.  I believe this will lead to more sales.

So am I missing some metrics here? I would be happy to add more.

Love this infographic from Jay Baer and Zuberance.


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