Don Schindler

Social Media Trainer for Industries

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 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.


Why aren’t you using these top six simple headline techniques?


Jersey cows (brown cows) produce white milk – not chocolate.

Copywriting doesn’t have to be hard but it can definitely seem hard at first.

By following some simple techniques it can get a lot easier.

Here are some of my favorite headline tips.

1. Should you write your headline first? No. Wait, yes.


What Do Cows Eat? by Brenda Hastings

That doesn’t make any sense. Now I know that this can be counter to what you might have been taught but your headline is the most important part of your writing.

If you don’t have a compelling headline, your post won’t be read. So spend some quality time crafting your headline and then knock out the body text.

If you want to gauge it with time, spend twice as much time on the headlines as you do on the content. Simple as that.

Here are some examples:

What are the top ten things a dairy farmer does that you didn’t know?

What do cows eat?

2. Who needs a keyword? The reader or the search engine?


Is My Milk Safe? by Ray Prock

Your headline needs to have the common keywords for your subject.

Now back in the day, this was all about SEO (search engine optimization) to manipulate the search engines and try to get your post found by users.

But now the keywords are actually the terms your searchers are using to find your information. You need to think about which words people would use to search for the topic and then test them in the search engine and see what comes up and then incorporate those keywords in your text.

Here are some examples:

Is my milk safe?

How do farmers take care of their dairy cows?

3. Who reads a list? Everyone. We love them.


Top Five Reasons Farms Are Getting Bigger By DairyCarrie

Buzzfeed is one of the most popular websites on the Internet. Why? Because list posts rock. Why do they rock? Because people don’t read on the Internet. They scan the internet very, very quickly.

So get your list-hat on and make some great lists about your farm, your job, your cows, whatever. You make it into a list and it will rock.

Here’s a couple of samples:

Why is cow’s milk so awesome? Here are the top five reasons.

Bet you didn’t know you could do these five things with cow manure.

4. Should I make my headline a question? Yep, yep. Double yep.


Chocolate milk from brown cows? by DairyMAX

Where do you want your headlines to show up? In search. What do people type into search engines? Questions they want answers to. Google matches the headlines and body copy (along with a lot of other factors) to pick out the best answers.

But there’s also another reason. People can ignore statements but they can’t ignore a question. Your brain will answer the question whether you want to or not. And that simple pull could get them to click through to your post.

Here are some examples:

Got milk? You don’t? Maybe that’s another reason you are having trouble losing weight.

Does chocolate milk come from brown cows? The answer might surprise you.

5. Why make a promise in your headline?


This must be a factory farm by Farmer Ryan Bright

Because people will read your answer – even if people are just skimming the content. Using the terms “why” and “how” can get users to engage and that’s the whole point, right?

But when you make a promise you better fulfill it. You don’t want to break the promise to the reader by not answering or by having a vague answer.

Get specific and to the point. People don’t dilly-daddy on one website when surfing the web.

Here are some examples:

What’s life really like on a dairy farm?

What are the biggest secrets that happen on the farm?

6. Simple is as simple reads.


Run, Forest, Run! via Forest Gump – Paramount Pictures

Write like you talk to a best friend – use simple language that is clear and everyone will enjoy.

When you use terms that are outside of the reader’s vocabulary you will break the flow.

It’s okay to use some industry jargon if you explain what it is but don’t get carried away.

Here are some examples:

Are dairy products healthy?

The top five reasons I drink the milk my cows produce.

You know the answers to these questions.


Try typing into Google and autocomplete will appear.

BONUS TIP: And if you need help, just use Google’s Autocomplete and start answering the questions that people ask Google.

What’s autocomplete? When you start typing into Google, it’s the text that appears on screen. It’s also the top searches that are going on around your keyword topic.

Someone is going to answer it and it might as well be the expert with the most experience (that’s you!).

BONUS BONUS TIP: Try for more keyword tips.  Great tool!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to hit me up in the comments, via email or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

What are your favorite headline writing techniques?

How do you create and build a personal brand?

First, what is a personal brand?

Most people think of celebrities as the only people who have personal brands but the truth is that everyone has them.

It’s just that celebrities usually get paid a ton of money and have the access to endorsement platforms. We (the audience) can’t help but notice their personal brand because a company is advertising it to get their product more exposure.

But here I’m just talking about you and the personal/professional brand that you project to others. If you need a definition of personal brand, I really like this one.

A brand is a person’s perceptions of their experiences with you.

If people think you are a good listener and then you do what you say you are going to do for them, they will form a good opinion of your personal brand. If you do the opposite, then you know what happens.

I also love what Glenn Llopis says about branding in this article on Forbes, “Your personal brand should represent at the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.”

Consistently is the keyword there. Trust of your brand is built up over time but it can be destroyed pretty quickly if you veer off the consistent path of your brand perception.

In this day and age of hyper connectivity and massive information overload, your personal brand can help raise your profile and get people to notice who you are quickly.


This is how most people feel all the time.


In Harvey Coleman’s book, “Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed” he talks about the PIE chart – Performance, Image and Exposure.


How performance, image and exposure have changed from the past to now

Performance means your day-to-day work and results.

Image means what other people think of you and your work.

Exposure means who knows who you are and what you do.

Mr. Coleman maintains that what we are told is that our performance means everything to your career – if you do the work, keep your head down and just work a little on your image, you’ll be fine.

That may have worked in the theory but it’s not how it works now.

While your performance means the world to your brand, you have to put significant thought into your image and work on getting exposure. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

PERFORMANCE: Can you say that you know what you are doing and you can answer questions about it?

If you can’t answer this yourself, you really need to stop and question what it is that you do. This should not be confusing or vague to you because your entire brand will be built on this. It can change over time or position, but it is the essence of your brand.

IMAGE: Do you feel like others trust you with what you say you do? People have very acute sense of BS detectors when you talk about what you do.

You should have an acute sense of how they are reacting to you when you talk about what you do.

EXPOSURE: Do others come to you instinctively when they need something related to your field?

This should not be defined by your title. And don’t blame others if they aren’t coming to you, it’s your fault if they don’t know what you do. I hear that quite a bit that people should know – no, they shouldn’t just know – they should be exposed to what you do.

More importantly, do you feel that management knows what you do, is excited about what you do and would come to you if they needed help?

This can make or break your brand. If your boss and your boss’s boss don’t come to you, there’s a serious issue there.

When it comes to budget cuts, you’ll have a lot more issues defending your budget if they don’t easily understand what you do. This is branding.


How to build a brand

1. You need to define who you are professionally.

Every brand is a story. What’s your story? Here’s how you create your story.

What are you known for? What do you want people to think when they think of you?

Write a brand statement for yourself. Here’s a template I use.

To (target audience), (your name) is the (blank) provider/service of (blank) delivered through (blank).

Here’s mine…

To the dairy industry, Don Schindler is a thought leader for creative integrated marketing and communications solutions delivered by digital communications and educational training.

Here it is reduced to 140 characters: @donschindler is a creative marketing professional who teaches you how to use social media and digital communication tools.

2. You need to create your elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is how you would describe what you do to someone who has an issue that you can solve. You can provide them with a solution – you should always approach knowing you have a solution to their problem.

For me, my idea clients are people who are struggling with their communications especially digital communications.

Here’s my pitch.

I can give your staff the communication skills to tell a story to your audience that will get them to act the way you want. Even if you think all your staff knows how to do is send out a press release.

Guarantee to work. If not, you’ll get your money back.

The guarantee is to form the basis of trust. I know what I’m doing and I trust it to work if you follow my steps and are willing to do the work.

Because with every interaction (whether a question or conversation), I promise to give you the best possible return for your time taken with me. And you can trust me to be honest, to have your best interest in mind, to give you a reason, to focus on you and what you are trying to accomplish, etc… Just remember that trust is very fragile.

If you go off brand or don’t deliver, it will be broken and it’s very, very hard to earn back.

3. You need to craft your stories.

Trust me, you are a storyteller.

Now that you have your elevator pitch and the image definition of yourself, you should start crafting your stories that promote your image.

How do you craft your stories that match your brand image?

  1. Be You – authentic, natural you. This is where trust is the highest.
  2. Talk to people like friends – when you are talking with friends, do you worry about the story you are telling or do you just tell it? Most people have no problems telling stories when the pressure is off – you are relating what has happened that your friends would find funny or interesting. By “being you”, you relate authentic stories – this is what captivates an audience.
  3. Use your experiences – very few storytellers can use another’s story and pass it along as their own. Again, people have a high BS meter. You have experiences that should relate to what your audience wants to know. You might have to sit down and write them down – that’s ok – but don’t be inauthentic. It will burn you in the end.
  4. Practice – use your brand stories and watch out people react. Did they laugh, did they cry, were they indifferent? Over time, you’ll know which stories to use. Remember audiences want to react – they may not trust you in the beginning – but they want you to entertain them on both an individual level and in a group setting. With practice, you’ll get better and understand when to pause and when to speed up the story.

4. Getting exposure to your personal brand

Exposure = sharing.

I’m a big proponent of sharing and I wrote an entire post on it. It’s the secret to personal branding.

I view all social media as a chance to share and get exposure.

I do not view it as a “private” me area. If you want a private me area, then I suggest using other platforms beyond social media.

Now I know I’m the digital guy but I believe in the traditional tools of the trade for personal branding. You need this foundation set before moving on to anything shiny and new like social media.

You will need these things for personal branding:

  • Business Cards – still the industry standard
  • Attending Events – going to events and meeting people face-to-face will help you the most in establishing trust
  • Join Peer Groups – masterminds, business networking, sports, etc… all can help your personal brand
  • Email Signature – you need to make sure people know who you are when you reach out or you get passed along on an email thread
  • Corporate Blog – getting on your company’s blog can give you a ton of exposure to your industry
  • Social Media Websites – passing along relevant information attached to your brand can give you exposure to people you would have never met physically

Whether you gather contacts from an event or online connection, all of them need to be housed in a central location.  This can be your company’s CRM (customer relationship management) tool or if you want to just use LinkedIn or a simple spread sheet in Google Docs (keep in the cloud so you don’t lose it if your computer dies).

Your email tool, like Outlook, is not a CRM and is difficult to transfer data back and forth between other tools.

With digital communications tools you can shape your professional brand to make it look the way you want it to. Here I’m talking about the different social media tools.

My home on the web
Can be done for free
Search engines love blogs
Easy to do and gives you personality
Inbound links
No one can change the rules on your death star
Here’s my how to get started using a blog.

It’s the easiest to maintain
More connections gives you a bigger network
Your online resume and portfolio
Public recommendations
Groups to help networking
Connected to Twitter and Facebook with a third party application
Here’s how to get started using LinkedIn.

Connections are everything – connect with everyone you meet in business.
Correct people’s profiles and summaries for advanced search.
Groups can be strong but difficult to maintain.
Tag others in updates to get their attention.
Understand there is more reading/stalking then interaction.
Use LinkedIn Pulse and share relevant content to your networks.

Large network – 1.25 billion people
Professional and personal life blend the most
Share, Comment, Like, Friend
Positive messages are shared more
The use of lists is a must to control the algorithm
Your digital diary
Here’s how to get started using Facebook.

Try and use graphics or videos with links to drive back to website.
Funny stuff drives a lot of engagement along with questions.
Worry more about engagement and not numbers (straight from Facebook).
Pay for play on Facebook.
Use employee advocates to engage in company posts. (Make sure you have social media compliance)

Fastest way to meet people you don’t know
News and rumors travel fast
Lots of noise and marketing garbage
Use lists to control\
Follow advocates and monitor detractors
Able to track conversations and trends
Here’s how to get started using Twitter.

Use common hashtags (creating your own is hard)
Use tools like ManageFlitter, Tweepi, or TweetAdder to add people
Use favorites to get people to follow
Do NOT auto-reply
Tweets with links in the middle
Use third party apps to control like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Tweetcaster.
Use search to answer questions

Visual search (much better than traditional)
Recipes, clothes, decorations, crafts, infographics, and more…
Heavy use by women
70 million users and growing
Can drive extreme traffic to websites
Still a new network
Here’s how to get started using Pinterest.

Other Networks
Instagram – Here’s how to get started using Instagram
YouTube – Here’s how to get started using YouTube

Don’t have How To’s on these networks yet but I recommend checking them out.

Secrets of Personal Branding Success Online

  1. Help others first. Highlight them, encourage them and in return they will be there for you.
  2. Don’t rant or be a Debbie Downer. Negative posts garner initial attention but it fades quickly.
  3. Don’t try and do all networks at once. Pick one and dig deeper.
  4. Schedule some time for it. 20 minutes a day if you can.

5. Monitor and Measure Your Brand


There are a couple of free tools that can help you monitor your brand.

Talkwalker Alerts - This will monitor you on the web. – This will monitor you via social media.

To measure your brand simply ask people who they think you are and what you do.  If they don’t know or get it wrong, then you need to adjust your message or possibly your exposure.

Make sure you are googling yourself – what does it say you are?

Make sure you sign out if you are logged into Google and delete your history so it doesn’t effect your search. It’s even better to check from an outside source or computer.

So a long blog post but I think it’s got some really good stuff in there. What would you add?

What’s the secret to creating your personal brand strategy?

Love To Share T-Shirt

Love To Share T-Shirt from Flickr’s Creative Commons

Share. It’s pretty simple, right?

When I teach Personal Brand Strategy, I get a lot of confusing looks when I talk about sharing and exposure.

I know what the class is thinking – this isn’t what we were taught in school.

In fact, I was taught that the work you do is enough. You don’t need to talk about it.

Because if you do what you do amazingly well, people will talk about what you do. You will be noticed.

Like Steve Martin said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

But remember Steve was extraordinarily good and his job was to be on-stage in front of millions.

I’m guessing that with your job, you don’t have a stage to stand on. That makes it a little harder to be noticed.

“But, Don,” I can hear you say, “Everyone knows that the guy who is constantly talking about how awesome he is the last person that deserves the credit.”

And I completely agree with that. He’s bragging. And that’s worthless.


Because he’s not helping anyone.

And I would argue that he isn’t even coming close to helping himself as much as he thinks he is.

But this doesn’t have to be case when you talk about what you do.

Think of it from the perspective of sharing.

Share your work, share your knowledge, share your failures and what you’ve learned from them so others can learn from your mistakes.

I just listened to a podcast from James Altucher (you should definitely be listening to him) and his guest, Austin Kleon: How To Be A Creative Genius.

In the podcast, they talk a lot about sharing your work – daily if you can – will get you noticed.

When I talk about how to use professional branding to be noticed, I used to talk about exposure. Exposure is what I want you to have but sharing is what you do to get exposure.

Share. That’s it.

Help others out. Help them get to where they are going. Help them to understand not just what you do but how you can help them.

This is why I use social media, why I blog, and why I don’t care if you think I’m bragging (I don’t see it that way).

I want you to know that I’m there for you and that I care.


There’s a great saying from John Maxwell – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

And they know you care when you are willing to share what you know. When you do this, your professional branding will take off.

It’s the secret to your personal branding success – I guarantee it and I’m sharing it right now. :)

What’s your secret to a successful personal brand?

Why should you be using LinkedIn as an executive?

Most people would probably question me about why I’m so passionate about technologies that many people would consider old-fashioned in the digital age. Like LinkedIn and blogging.

But let me explain why I believe that Linkedin still has a lot going for it. Even more than many other networks (looking at you Facebook and Twitter).

Relationships are everything in business and digital relationships count now.

Back in the day, you had to look someone in the eye and shake their hand to make a deal. That was before the lawyers decided that it was better to have a signed contract in case someone didn’t hold up their end of the deal.

Now I would say that I’m more trusting of a person who I can observe digitally – if I can see what they’ve done and who they’ve done it with.

The business world has shifted slowly into the digital realm (definitely not as quickly as consumers) and I now trust the relationships I have on LinkedIn even when I haven’t met the person face to face – why? Because over time, I’ve made a lot of handshake deals and heard about a lot of deals done through Linkedin. It’s a relationship I can count on even if it is digital.

Your rolodex needs to be in the cloud.

When I was first in business, I couldn’t wait to get my new business card. I passed them out like candy. Here I am – make sure I get in your rolodex – I’m a legitimate part of the business world.

Now I can never find my own business cards. I feel bad to when someone asks for my card. Why? Why do you need it? Isn’t this just an obligation now? You are just going to forget it in your bag when you get back to the office. Just Google me and you’ll find my information (on LinkedIn). But as a marketer I understand that the business card is a takeaway and a reminder to connect with me via LinkedIn.

Nowadays I try and link up on Linkedin with everyone I’m going to meet ahead of time if I can. Why? Well, I can see their face and be forever connected to them; therefore, it doesn’t matter if I don’t get their card.


Dairy Foods Magazine has a Linkedin Group

Food production conversations are happening, where is the dairy industry?

When it comes to finding the dairy industry on Linkedin, it’s pretty easy. Just do a search on the company you are looking for and you’ll discover new connections through your network.

Why so few? I’m not really sure here. Maybe the industry is just slower to adopt new technologies (hmmmm…that’s not really true when you look at how dairy is processed today – they love technology for making the product safer and easier to process).

The dairy industry is full of wonderful leaders with category breaking ideas. By joining Linkedin and connecting with the Dairy and Food Groups that are out there, you can meet up with others in the industry, to share ideas and learn new things about the future of the dairy industry.

But you have to be there first. Signing up is free – dedicating a small portion of your time (like 20 minutes a week) to LinkedIn could get you a partnership or product. You just never know. But what will happen if you don’t join? Nothing. Simply nothing.


What happens when someone Googles you?

When someone Googles you, where is your professional bio?

So who have you Googled recently? A speaker for a conference? An ex? A celebrity who just did something racy?

What happens when someone Googles you? You need to logout of Chrome or Firefox first. Or even pick a different browser before Googling yourself.

What comes up? Anything? What does that say about you?

LinkedIn is a powerful website and if you put content into it about you there’s a good chance that it will show up on the first page.

And if that person Googling you is looking for your business acumen, then you can guarantee they are going to research your profile. Here’s a chance to put your best foot forward and also have some control over what Google says about you.


Recommendations can make or break your reputation.

Others vouch for your reputation.

Getting recommendations isn’t the easiest thing to ask for but LinkedIn makes it about as easy as it can get. By just clicking a few links, you can send a recommendation email (they even halfway write it for you).

Then once you have your recommendation, anyone visiting your profile can see. Your recommendations are always there and they are tied to the other person so they can be asked about the recommendation they gave.

If you want recommendations, the best thing to do is give a few out. There are people you’ve worked with that have done some extraordinary things for your career. Let them know and you are likely to receive in return.

You can meet others outside your industry.

When you go to industry conferences, it’s doubtful you are meeting with a lot of people outside your industry (you know, besides vendors who have very different intentions meeting you).

LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to meet people over topics (I really like the Marketing Over Coffee LinkedIn Group and my Notre Dame Alumni Group). And since it is on Linkedin, the conversations are geared more to business than groups on Facebook or Google+.

Smart job searches start with connections not search engines.

Jobs of the future don’t have much to do with résumés. A résumé is still a requirement but many HR departments will head straight to your LinkedIn profile to get a more thorough look at your career as well as check to see who you are connected with.

Don’t you see how this will be the same for our kids – in fact, your connections might be the ones that get them a job.


Personalized business news from Linkedin Pulse

This is where business news is shared.

Tired of digging through various newspapers to find good business articles? Use LinkedIn Pulse and you’ll see business news that is focused on your tastes – not on the general business public. Mine centers on technology and communications business – imagine that.


Every thought leader is judged against TED.

How can you call yourself a thought leader and not be digital?

This seems like a no-brainer but if you want to be a mover-and-shaker in the dairy industry and you aren’t using your social tools to communicate, I believe you are making it more difficult for yourself to be trusted as an industry leader.

LinkedIn is the first step and probably the easiest one to take.

Mentoring happens both in person and on the web.

You can teach the next generation of leaders how to be leaders – via the web.

Many leaders I know say they don’t have time to use things like LinkedIn yet they usually want to mentor the younger generations on how to be better leaders.

If you use LinkedIn and connect with these younger leaders you can mentor many of them at once. Your updates can be tidbits of how you do leadership, sharing articles, and engaging with them.  You can mentor them on how to interact with people both online and offline via the tool.

We need your professionalism and opinion on these networks so younger leaders have someone to follow beyond their peers.

So how do you get started using LinkedIn, here’s a how to set up a Linkedin profile.

Do you need help with your personal branding, I can do that. Just hit me and we’ll go through the process of setting up your brand.

How to setup Instagram for yourself or your farm – Instagram 101

Instagram Don Schindler profile

Instagram Don Schindler profile

Instagram is a fun, visual social network (you have to have take a picture or video to post) to share your daily experiences, special moments and stories through photos and videos. It also hooks up directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and a lot of other sites so you can share across multiple platforms if you want.

If you need more convincing, check out these 6 reasons to use Instagram for your farm or business.

Get started now in just 7 easy steps. Here we go.

1. Download the Instagram app.

Instagram Sign Up screen

Instagram Sign Up screen

Instagram is a mobile platform so you’ll need to download the app from one of the following sites, depending on which device you’re working from:

2. Open the Instagram app once it’s installed.

Instagram Sign Up screen enter information

Instagram Sign Up screen enter information

At this point, you’ll have the option to register with Facebook or an email address. If you have a Facebook account already, registering through Facebook will be an easier option and allow you to quickly find which of your Facebook friends are also on Instagram.

If you choose to register using an email address, follow these next steps:

3. Create your profile.

Add your profile information

Add your profile information

To complete your Instagram profile you will need an email address, username, password and profile picture.

If you’re creating an account for your farm or business, choose a username that ties back to your farm or business (Ex. Windy Ridge Dairy). If it’s a personal account, I suggest using your name.

4. Add a profile picture.

Add profile picture to Instagram

Add profile picture to Instagram

Don’t forget to upload a picture before completing your profile. This image will set you apart from others and help your future followers quickly identify you. I recommend a headshot or a photo of your farm.

5. Add more information to help others find you on Instagram (optional).

Add more information so you can be found on Instagram

Add more information so you can be found on Instagram

This information is optional. I suggest entering your name to make it easier for others to search and find you on Instagram.

6. Find friends and followers.

Find your friends on Instagram

Find your friends on Instagram

Instagram now will help you find people to follow. If you click “Find Facebook friends to follow,” Instagram will search and find which of your Facebook friends have Instagram accounts and give you the option to follow them. You can also chose to “Find contacts to follow” and allow Instagram to access your phone contacts. The more people you follow, the more photos will appear in your feed.

If you choose to skip this step, you can always come back and find friends later or use the Instagram search to find specific people.

To search friends, click the “Explore” tab which looks similar to a navigation arrow. Enter the name at the top of the screen. Looking for some suggestions? Here are a few dairy farmers to follow: @dairycarrie, @tzweber, @ezweber1, @RayProck, @gilmerdairy, @trentbown.

Using search on Instagram

Using search on Instagram

7. Take a picture or video.

Take picture using Instagram

Take picture using Instagram

Let’s add your first picture. After you get the perfect shot, it’s time to choose a filter to change the look of your photo – Sierra, Black and White, Earlybird and more! Click “Next” to write a short caption for your photo.

From here, you can also easily share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more.

Now that you’re set up and have taken your first picture, it’s time to enjoy and remember to have fun with it!

Do you have any more questions about how to use Instagram? Post below or email me.

Why should you use Instagram for your farm or business?

Are you kidding me, Don? Another social network I have to pay attention to.

Yep, sorry. But actually this social network is pretty easy to use and is actually fun.

And definitely doesn’t have as much drama as Facebook.

There are lots of good reasons to join.

1. Instagram focuses on photos and videos.

Let’s face it. People love farm animals and landscapes. You have that in abundance so why not give the people what they want. Cows, cows and more cows. In fact, make sure you tag your cows – #cowsofinstagram


Lesa Clark’s New Heifer

2. Instagram’s not controlled by an algorithm like other networks.

When you post something, it’s seen by those that follow you (if they are on the network). They can easily go back an review your old photos as well so you get a lot more power from past posts.


Love seeing the road from a farmer’s POV

3. Instagram is mobile first.

Instagram was built as a mobile app and then made for the desktop. You don’t have to go back and use your computer to do anything if you don’t want to. Just download the app, follow your friends or new people, and just post pictures.


Chuck Moellendick from Moes Farm hanging with Elsie the Borden Cow.

4. Instagram is where the younger people are.

You know that you don’t see a lot of millennials or Gen Z cruising around Facebook. Why is that? Because you are out there and they would rather not be posting where Grandma can give them a hard time about what they are posting. They are using Instagram to converse and share their lives.


Ryan Goodman using Instagram to engage and answer questions about farming.


At least for right now, which means you have just as much a chance at being followed and given some love and comments. Businesses and people are treated the same by the network. BTW, Facebook owns Instagram.


Cabot Cheese isn’t trying to sell products but showcase where their products come from.

6. Instagram allows you to post directly to Facebook and other social networks.

Instagram allows you to easily post to several networks at once. Every time I post, I almost always post directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr but there are over 50 networks you can post directly to. That’s a lot and it can save you some time.


A great place to show personality and have fun.

So how do you join Instagram? It’s pretty simple and I’ve got a How-To in the next post.

Why did you join Instagram? Do you have another good reason to join?

How do you set up a blog on or transfer your website to

Our Big Barn Collapsed After A Wind Sheer

Our Big Barn Collapsed After A Wind Sheer

Normally, I do a step-by-step process with the How To’s but right now there are plenty of other blogs that walk you through the process of setting up or moving your wordpress blog.

I’ve moved several blogs from different hosts and I can tell that it gets easier and easier but that doesn’t mean it’s so easy that I would let my dog take a whack at it.

Remember your blog is your home (or barn) on the internet and it’s no fun to rebuild that home (or barn) when you accidentally knock it down yourself.

So here’s what I would do if I were doing and I didn’t have the knowledge of blowing up my past blogs.

I would probably pay for it.

That’s hard for me to say. I’m a cheap guy (you can ask my wife). I like to figure things out on my own and then take a crack at it.

Am I successful? It really depends on if I think I can give up without someone knowing.

So if you are in the process of setting up a blog, I would recommend the free services of WPbeginner. I haven’t used them yet and I’m not an affiliate but everything else they say on the website is legit so why would they lie about free setup.

All you have to do is buy the host and the domain (you can get both from wordpress) and just have them set it up.

They also have a couple of posts on the do it yourself process.

Michael Hyatt (I’m a big fan of his podcasts “This is your life”) also has a video on the overall wordpress set up that’s supposed to take only 20 minutes.  I’ve never set up a new site that fast but, like I said, things are getting easier.

Now when it comes to moving your to a website, you may think that I’m going to say “hey, you can do this.”  You know, because you’ve been blogging for a while and you know how wordpress works.

But again if I didn’t have my experience, I think you’ll be better off letting the experts handle it. For $129.00 per blog with a system they called “Guided Transfer“, I think that’s a steal. I’ve spoken to developers about these kind of things and most of them charge that for an hour’s worth of work.  They will not be able to move your blog in less than an hour.

I would rather you let the experts handle the move and you concentrate on what you are good at doing. Working the farm and telling the world your story – that’s so much better then fighting to get your website back up and running.

What do you think? Are you going to tackle this project by yourself or let someone else do it?



What’s the best iphone case? I really like Case+ System


My Case+ Car System in the dash of my truck

I’m a pretty cheap guy. My wife can attest to this fact.

If I can find a free or inexpensive version of something, I’ll spend more time and energy to find the free version then just to pay for it in the first place.

So when it comes to iPhone cases – I simply don’t pay a lot. If it is plain and simple (I’m not a fan of overly-designed, unique cases my daughters love), then I’ll pick it up.

But then I was given the Case+ system as a reward for doing some work for a friend. I reviewed a cool new product that I’ll tell you about when it gets released. I think you’ll love it.

Anyway, I got this Case+ system in the mail the other day. It was something that I would have never bought myself because I didn’t think I needed it.

Wow, did I ever need this.

First, let’s talk about the case. It’s solid with rubber on the ends and brushed metal in the middle. I have never seen a case like this and immediately I fell in love with it.

Let me tell you why. Because it’s as nice as the iPhone itself.

I hate putting a case on my iPhone. I think it really ruins the feel of the product. But I’m also a dropper. Remember that from “Friends” when they are throwing the ball around the apartment all day and Chandler wants to play to.

Well, I hate to admit it but I drop stuff all the time and I really don’t like buying new phones so I have to have a case.

And cheap cases make my phone feel cheap. Hate that. This case+, not so much. Top end feel.

But metal does more than just look good. It’s functional, too.

This is where the foldy stand (just like I have for my iPad) fits. You see it has this little folding panel that snaps on and can stand the phone up so I don’t have to hold it all the time. It also folds up to hold my headphones (suggestion from my friend who gave it to me) and I can hold my iPad pen (which I’m always losing in my bag).

But the metal also works with the car stand. Now I used to not need a car stand because I didn’t have much of a commute to work. But nowadays with a 30 minute commute on a good day, the stand works out perfectly in my truck.

Instead of trying to hold the phone and navigate my podcasts and music with my thumb, I just put it on the stand and it locks right down. I can easily see the screen (when I’m stopped at a red light) and just touch what I need vs. picking it up and fumbling around (remember I drop stuff).

I do think my favorite part of the Case+ system is the battery. Wow, why have I been killing myself for so long looking for power at every airport or conference room?

Or why have I stopped using my phone because I’m stuck in a cab or have forgotten my power cable at home?

The battery pack (which doesn’t look like a humpback whale on my phone when plugged in) is awesome and clicks right in. You don’t even have to take the case off to charge it. The design is ingenious and I totally recommend getting the system for the battery alone.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I never realized how awesome a iPhone case could be until I got the Case+ system. You definitely need to check it out if you haven’t already.

Do you have a favorite iPhone case? Would love to hear about it.

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