Don Schindler

Digital Strategy & Executive Social Media Trainer

Month: September 2013 (page 1 of 2)

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Twitter For Your Farm (And 5 Reasons Why Twitter is Bad)

When I was still at the agency, I used to tell people that I thought Twitter would go away. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t think the format Twitter made would go away, I just didn’t think Twitter as a company would survive. I was wrong about that but let’s see how they do after the IPO.

But I still love how Twitter works.  In fact, it’s probably one of the best ways to be involved in the digital space today. Many, many leaders (real leaders, not fake internet famous leaders) are using twitter to reach out to their constituents and listen to the online conversations about their brands.  If you want to make a difference in a company, reach out using twitter and you’ll see they are listening.

So why are real business leaders, politicians and other farmers like you using Twitter?  Here are five reasons why they are and why I think you should be using Twitter for your farm.

1. Fastest, easiest and cheapest way to meet your consumers, their food influencers (like reporters, nutritionists and foodies) and tons of other people.

farmer-twitter-list

I put the farmers I meet in twitter on a list I follow

To give you an example, I’ve not been in the dairy industry long but by using Twitter, I’ve been able to start following influential dairy people. The tweets they post, the conversations they have with people, the news they pass along – gets me up to date quickly on what matters to them and how the industry functions.  Without it, it would probably take several years and many meetings to learn the industry.

For a local farm profile, I would follow the people that are most likely going to influence the audience that I want to influence. So locally, it would be your local news reporters (fastest way to get to a reporter is through twitter), your local politicians, your local farm bureaus and, of course, the local foodies.

How do you find out who they are? You follow a few, see who they are talking to the most, and you follow them. You can also use great free tools like followerwonk.com (where you can search people’s bios) and twiangulate.com (where you could search multiple people’s followers and see who follows both of them like a local news personality and local foodie – those followers could be a good audience to connect with).

2. The power of instant conversations – Join in and contribute or sit on the sidelines, it’s your choice.

Early Bird via Sheila Sund

Early Bird via Sheila Sund

Today, it does seem the early bird gets the worm. But there are many, many opportunities within the twittersphere to engage in conversations that are occurring all over the world. Some conversations are set in advance and may be using a “hashtag” (simple way to organize a topic on twitter by using hashtag with the word – if you’ve never joined #agchat on Tuesday nights at 8 pm eastern, I would recommend it.)

But there are also consumer conversations that are always ongoing that are hash tagged as well and after you get some experience with the twitter language then I would recommend joining them as well. You can get some great consumer insights into how they perceive the industry and what terms are good for them and which aren’t.

Conversations in Twitter are all open (unless you have a protected account or you are direct messaging or DM’ing someone) and people understand that by talking out on twitter you are inviting anyone to join in. This is very different than other social networks.

3. News spreads quickly – your tweet may too.

Twitter Trendmap

Twitter Trendmap of Chicago area

I’ve been told a quote that “if it doesn’t happen on twitter, it’s not news” and we can see with reporters using twitter more and more, the news does seem to be on twitter first. In fact, tweets about an earthquake in the U.S. hit Toronto faster than the shockwaves.

If reporters and influentials are using twitter extensively then it goes to say that if you use twitter to pass along news, then it might be picked up by the local reporters in your area – and if it’s really big news or it’s intriguing to a national reporter, it might go nationally very quick. You can see what is trending on Twitter via maps by using Trendmaps.com.

The good thing to understand is that news travels fast (really, really fast in twitter) so it’s important to understand your words matter when a tweet spreads. Choose them carefully and under 120 characters so people can retweet it without having to edit them.

4. Professional Development – learn from experts and become one yourself

Will Gilmer Twitter posts

Dairy Farmer Will Gilmer tweeting about a meeting

There are some amazing people out on twitter that just hand over great information on how to do things for free. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to build a following – help people out by giving up your knowledge on what you know how to do. It kinda flies in the face of making yourself irreplaceable at your company. But that was the old way of doing things. You basically make yourself irreplaceable by giving out your knowledge and making yourself an influencer of others.

Dairy Farmer Ray Prock talks about National Partnerships

Dairy Farmer Ray Prock talks about National Partnerships

When it comes to a farm profile, giving up information on how you farm, how the cows are, how the feed is, what you are doing and how you are doing it, builds trust with consumers and helps out younger farmers – so they can follow your example and learn from you. It’s ok to talk shop out in twitter and people want you to so they get a better understanding of how farming has changed over the years. I wouldn’t look at it as “education” but more of “insights” or “inside information” on how you farm.  I believe that Will Gilmer and Ray Prock are great examples but there are many more out there doing a great job and I’ll highlight on future posts.

5. You can follow and possibly speak with people that wouldn’t normally be in your circle of influence

redhead-creamery

Redhead Creamery raised over $40K for their farm using kickstarter campaign – many donors had nothing to do with farming.

You don’t have to only follow people you like – you can see what the competition is talking about. What are they planning? What interests them? You don’t have to “follow” them to see their conversations. You can simply add them to a “private” list and view their information there.

You can even join their conversations. You may not be able to change their minds – and definitely don’t enter a conversation to start an argument or fight (that’s no way to influence others) – but at least you’ll be able to read their thinking and understand who influences them.

Would you like to set up Twitter for your farm? Check out my blog post on How To Set Up Twitter For Your Family Farm in 6 Simple Steps.

Of course, there are many cons to this platform. But I believe the benefits of joining twitter far outweigh the cons.  These are the five reasons why Twitter is bad and it makes the platform hard to use, especially for beginners.

1.Lots and lots of noise, spam and robot collection devices.

When you enter the world’s largest cocktail party, there’s going to be a lot of stuff you really, really don’t care about. The benefits of using “twitter lists” can help keep this noise to a manageable amount. If you are not using lists, I really don’t know how it is going to work for you unless you keep your following count really low.

There’s also going to be spam in the internet and Twitter is no different than other platforms. The main thing is never ever click a link that you are unsure of the source. It will happen and you’ll get burned and send out the diet pills links, a bad video or possibly a virus (it happens to all of us). When it does, change your password and then go delete the last application that was added to your profile. That should take care of it.

2. Twitter.com is does not have a very user friendly interface.

I don’t recommend using twitter.com for your web or phone application (it is better on the phone). I will walk you through Hootsuite, it’s free and better for your overall digital presence online. You can control more than one social network through it and still have great conversations.

3. Search is getting worse – harder to find the right conversations to be in.

As more and more people join, the search feature is more difficult to use and find what you are looking for – whether than be people, brands, conversations, etc… There are several free tools like followerwonk.com, socialmention.com, mention.com, and more to do this. I even use Google more to find people’s profiles vs. search.twitter.com

4. Relationships are fleeting – remember this is twitter and social media.

These people are not going to come out and join your parade on day one but they might be friendly to you and that’s a start. It’s a great way to discover, intro, and help maintain new relationships with people but if someone unfollows you, don’t take offense. Just move on and help someone else. Maybe they’ll introduce to more people than the last person.

5. It takes time.

Nothing happens overnight when it comes to twitter unless you are a celebrity to start with. You have to pay your dues, meet people, have a lot of conversations and build up your brand. There are plenty of tools to make it easier to talk but nothing is as effective as smart, thoughtful, positive tweets about why you love what you do and why you continue to do it.

Remember most people using twitter aren’t in agriculture – you aren’t there to educate them but to give them insights into your farming lifestyle. I’ll have a blog post up soon about how to set up twitter and what you should be tweeting.

That’s it for my list. What are your five favorite reasons for using Twitter to talk about your farm?  You can always hit me up at @donschindler

Would you like to set up Twitter for your farm? Check out my blog post on How To Set Up Twitter For Your Family Farm in 6 Simple Steps.

What’s a marketing mechanic?

don-schindler-working-on-harley

Putting 14-inch ape hangers on my bike, Rosemary.

I was raised in a home full of mechanics.

My grandfather, Les, was a tractor mechanic for Massey-Ferguson for 20+ years as well as a full time farmer.

I used to think we were rich (quite the opposite in fact) when I was little because we had so many tractors, combines, cars and machinery on the farm.

Little did I know that grandpa actually had a standing offer on every broken down machine that came into the dealership – $15. It didn’t matter if it ran or not, grandpa knew it had parts on it that he could use. The farm machinery graveyard right behind grandpa’s house was my playground.

My dad and two uncles were also mechanics and there was a Schindler Auto Body shop on the farm as well.

In kindergarten, I knew the difference between a 9/16 socket, 5/8 wrench and a pair of vice grips. I drained oil and aired tires.  I sanded fenders. I sorted and matched leftover nuts and bolts. Every day I swept the shop to earn a Dr. Pepper bottle from the frig.

I also learned that mechanics fix things. That’s how you measure their value.

So to me, a marketing mechanic is different than a consultant.

Consultants can help you figure out the problem. Consultants can give you advice.

But if you want the problem really fixed, the consultant will tell you what mechanic to call but they aren’t going to get their hands dirty. They need to go consult on another job.

So you end up calling the mechanic and he comes out. He sometimes verifies that what the consultant said was correct (sometimes the consultants don’t get it right) and then fixes it. Right there, right then.

You thank him for his time and then you hold on to his number.  Why, because you’ll call him first next time – what do you need a consultant for.

Everyone knows that it’s hard to find a good mechanic. When people find one, they are loyal to that mechanic. It’s easy to find a consultant.

So you can call me a marketing consultant if you want to because the industry doesn’t use a term like marketing mechanic. But I’m more than just a consultant.

I ran across this post on five skills every auto mechanic should have.  I think it works brilliantly on why I would prefer to be called a marketing mechanic than consultant.

1. Diagnostic Abilities:
Mechanics understand that they need to pinpoint where the problem is. They don’t replace the entire engine – they use the right diagnostic tools to analyze the engine and replace only the part that is broken. Much like that, I’m not going to come in and have you replace all of your communications if just your email marketing is broken. Good mechanics diagnose quickly and get you back on the road to success.

2. An array of integrated skills
Here they talk about understanding the entire car such as the electrical system, fuel system and the air conditioning system. Same here with a marketing mechanic. You need to be able to understand how the marketing communications system is working internally (like the social media team process and the direct mail system process – how are they connected). But you also need to be able to see the entire organization’s culture – how is marketing communications integrating with operations? If the systems are broken, the tactics will fail.

3. The Ability to Stay Prepared
I love how they say “the days of the uneducated grease monkey are over.” How true this is with marketing communications today. The entire world of communications has been transformed by digital and social media. You need someone who is staying on top of the latest technologies and how they can help or hurt your current marketing efforts. Just read my blog and you’ll see what I’m currently looking into and working on.

4. The Ability to Teach Others
I was stunned when I read this because it’s exactly how I feel about mechanics – I just didn’t think that mechanics actually acknowledge that they need to excellent teachers. And good mechanics are great teachers. Great mechanics show others what they learned and why it’s important. I teach and train others all the time on marketing communications and you need someone who is not only going to fix the problem but also show you how they fixed it so you don’t make the same mistake in the future.

5. Career Longevity
I’m a career marketer – granted I didn’t go to school to be a marketer in the traditional fashion (I have an English degree not a marketing degree) but I’ve been fascinated by marketing and communications, reading and writing, creating content for as long as I can remember. This lifelong passion benefits you because I’ve had my fill of mistakes and I can show you exactly how I wouldn’t make them again (I loved Flash early in my career – ouch).

So if you are interested in learning more from a marketing mechanic, then give me a call or email.  But if you are interested in having a consultant tell you to call me to fix it, well I’m sure that can be arranged as well.

What do you think about the differences between a marketing mechanic and a marketing consultant?

How social media savvy are your employees? How to do a social media audit of your team.

don-schindler-klout

Have you ever measured yourself on Klout?

“How experienced is my staff at using social media?”

I get this a lot from senior marketers and communication folks. They want to know how experienced the staff is at using social media tools.

It’s tough for senior staff to gauge this because they don’t use social media as much as the younger staff. So they just have to trust the staff when they say they know how to use it.

But do they really know how to use it?

I built this questionnaire after running into an issue with a communications person (previous job a long time ago) who swore they were experienced at using Facebook. They were adamant that they knew exactly what they were doing and didn’t need any training.

So I set up a Facebook page and gave them access to the admin.

Then the first question came almost immediately:

“I accidentally put up the wrong link in a post. How do I change it?”

“I can’t post anymore because I want to keep this post at the top of our page.” – This was before Facebook had pinned posts.

“How do I friend other people with our page?”

Needless to say, that was when I really checked out the new admin’s profile. She had less than 30 friends, she was very active but didn’t even understand how to write on another person’s wall to wish them a happy birthday. So that was when I decided I’m done “trusting” people when they say they understand how to use social media.  Now I make sure to visit their digital profiles and read their posts.

I created these social media survey questions for employees. I would ask these questions in order to determine how strong an employee is at using social media and if they have any influence in the social media realm.

Now these are just base questions for generic social media. While some people may be very good and deep on one platform, they may not use or understand how another platform works.  If that is the case,  then I would not consider them to be at an advanced level.

I use these questions to also help with social media training – to see what level people are at so I can base the training by their needs. I normally drop the questions into a survey using surveymonkey.com and go through the results – one by one.

Here are some of the questions I use:

1. How comfortable are you using social media for personal use?

Very comfortable
Comfortable
OK
Not comfortable
Very uncomfortable

If they answer with “Not comfortable” or “Very uncomfortable”, I recommend that they don’t take the class. If their position requires it, (they are in communications or marketing) then they may want to think of a new career path because this social media stuff isn’t going away and if anything is becoming the way we all communicate both internal and external.

2. How comfortable would you be using social media for a business?

Very comfortable
Comfortable
OK
Not comfortable
Very uncomfortable

Any answer here is fine. You can teach people who are on the “uncomfortable” side of the equation as long as they are willing to learn (see question one). It just may take them longer. But you also need to be careful of the “very comfortable” people, because they may think they know everything and set in their ways.

3. Which social networks are you on?

Facebook
Twitter
Linkedin
YouTube
Instagram
Pinterest
Quora
MySpace
Google+
Ning
Foursquare
Tumblr
Reddit
Stumbleupon
Path
GetGlue
Other…

If they check:

– All 16 – whoa.
– 10-16 – they get it.
– 5-10 – much better than the average bear.
– 2-5 – they probably have the standard networks.
– Less than two – they are probably uncomfortable about the digital lifestyle.

4. If you have Facebook, how many friends do you have?

100 or less
101-400
401-700
701-1000
1001+

The average person has about 200 or so friends on Facebook. And recently I’ve noticed many people have been deleting “friends” that were just acquaintances (instead of using friend’s lists). I would say the more savvy people have between 500-1000 friends.

5. If you have Facebook, how often do you visit the site or mobile application?

Multiple times a day
Once a day
A couple of times a week
Once or twice a month

A couple of times a week or less is a pattern of someone who is not really engaged in social media. They can be trained and right now just don’t get the benefit of using social media for business.

6. If you have Facebook, how often do you post, share, comment or like?

Multiple times a day
Once a day
A couple of times a week
Once or twice a month

Again, less than once a day shows lack of engagement and that’s fine. More training will help move it along.

7. If you have Linkedin, how many connections do you have?

100 or less
101-400
401-700
701-1000
1001+

Most professionals still don’t understand the strength of a highly networked Linkedin profile so less than 400 is pretty normal. More training about the reasons to use it is needed but once they get it, they can usually add people quickly.

8. If you have Linkedin, how often do you update your profile/resume?

Once a month
Once in a while
Once a year
I don’t remember the last time I visited

Updating your profile once a month is someone that really gets the benefits of Linkedin. Most people are not like this. The answer “I don’t remember the last time I visited” means I’m going to have to work harder to convince them of the benefits – and see if it matches to the “uncomfortable” position from the first survey question.

9. If you have Twitter, how often do you visit the site or a mobile application for Twitter?

Multiple times a day
Once a day
A couple of times a week
Once or twice a month

Twitter really requires you to be engaged at a high level to get the most out of it so anything less shows me that they are beginners.

10. If you have Twitter, how often do you tweet?

Multiple times a day
Once a day
A couple of times a week
Once or twice a month

Again, less than once a day shows lack of engagement and that’s fine. More training will help move it along.

11. Are you a blogger?

Yes
No
I have a blog but I haven’t posted to it in a while.

If you answered yes, then please put in your website URL.

If you ask someone if they are a blogger and they say “yes” then I’m pretty certain they blog. Most bloggers are happy to let you know they blog and will give you their URL at the drop of a hat.  That’s a good thing.

12. Have you read the social media policy that your company has in place? Do you understand what it says?

Yes
No
I did but I don’t remember the specifics.

This just lets me know if they even know about their being a social media policy with the company. Part of training should be going over the current social media policy.

If you don’t want to ask any questions, you can just level your employees yourself if you have access to their profiles.

With each person in training, check their digital profile or footprint for the following stats.

Social Media Beginner:
– 300 or less friends on Facebook
– 1000 or less tweets on Twitter
– 200 or less connections on Linkedin

Beginners might be on the network a lot but if you haven’t built a large network then you are probably not using it like an Intermediate and definitely not like a professional.

Intermediate:
– Have a blog or at least set one up at one time
– Manages at least one facebook page (not just a profile)
– More than 300 friends on Facebook (more like 800-1200 range)
– 500+ connections on Linkedin
– 1001-5000 tweets / 1000-5000 followers
– Google+ profile
– Is on other networks like Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, etc…

Intermediates are usually pretty social savvy but aren’t fully engaged all the time in social media. They are off and on the networks and don’t need a lot of assistance in setting up profiles or pages. They need more help when it comes to managing their professional brand and how to link the networks together.  I would also use other tools like Klout and Peerindex to see if where they fall on the influence scale.

Professional:
– Weekly blogger
– Advanced applications to manage multiple social profiles
– Manages a community / comments regularly
– More than 1500 friends and probably have many subscribers
– More than 5000 tweets and 5000 followers
– Manages company pages and profiles on different networks
– Is hyper connected 24/7

So what questions do you ask your staff when it comes to understanding how well they know social media and how they use it?

How should you set up your Google Analytics dashboard for your farm website or blog?

final-google-custom-dashboard

How do you get a snapshot Google dashboard?

I’ve been following Christopher S. Penn for years and am a big advocate for listening to his weekly podcast with John Wall called Marketing Over Coffee.

I learned how to set up a custom dashboard in Google from Chris so some of this custom dashboard set-up comes from him, a few others and my own added info. So props to Christopher for showing me how to do this so I can show you how to set up your dairy website/blog analytics?

Before you set up your Google Analytics dashboard, you really need to determine the goals of your website. If you need help with setting up Goals and Conversions, then check out my post on Setting Goals.

If you’ve never set up analytics on your website/blog, you’ll need to do that first. You can learn how to do that from Google with their setting up Google Analytics on your website post.

To build a custom dashboard, it’s fairly easily. But why would you want to, you know, since Google already provides large tabs with the analytics on them. Mainly because you probably don’t have a lot of time to be digging through all those analytics. Your own dashboard will help you get right to the meat of your needs.

1. Log in to Google Analytics

It’s as simple as going to Google.com/analytics

2. Select the profile

You might not have to select a profile if you only have one website. If you are already on the Audience Overview, just skip to Step 3.

3. Select New Dashboard

This will be on the top left navigation. You can create up to 20 custom dashboards.

audience-overview

Look at the top left navigation for Dashboard

4. Select Blank Canvas

You’ll be able to create and move all the widgets you create so the dashboard will look exactly as you want it to look.

blank-canvas

5. Select Add a Widget

Once you click, add a widget you’ll get a pop-up on the page that will help you define each and every widget you want to create.

First you’ll need to fill out the Widget’s name.

The second thing you’ll need to select is what type of widget reporting this will be. Do you want:

Metrics – just a simple figure or calculation.
Timeline – a visual timeline with metrics.
Geomap – a visual map color coded for the metrics.
Table – several metrics tied together in a table format.
Pie – a visual pie chart of the metrics.
Bar – a bar chart of the metrics.

If you select Standard, these metrics will be tied to the time slot you select on the top right.

If you select Real-Time, these metrics will be tied to only real time data and will constantly be changing depending on the real time traffic to the website.

Once you select the visual, the “show the following metric:” will change depending on the visual.

You can also use “Filter this data” to show/don’t show different dimensions with different expressions like “containing”, “exactly matching”, “ends with”, etc…

The last option, “Link to Report or URL” gives you the possibility to link directly to a standard Google Analytics report or a URL within the widget.

Then you would click “Save”.

Here are the following widgets I would set up for dairy industry or farming website. These will make it easier on you to see at a snapshot what is going on.

6. Real Time Active Visitors – how many people are on the website right now.

active-visitors

Name the widget “Active Visitors”
Select Real-time 2.1 Counter
Select Following Metric: Active Visitors
No dimension
No filter this data
No link
Click “Save”

active-visitors-complete

The above image is what the widget should look like.

7. Unique Visitors – how many unique people have been on the site in the timeframe at the top right

unique-visitors

Name the widget “Unique Visitors”
Select Standard 2.1 Metric
Select “Unique Visitors”
No filter
No link
Click “Save”

google-dashboard-1

The above image is what the widget should look like. As you probably noticed, this widget is then on top of the first widget you created. You can drag this widget down under the other widget by simply grabbing the top bar of the widget.

8. Unique Visitors by Source – where are my unique visitors coming from (direct, search engines, websites, etc…)

pie-unique-visitors-by-source

Name the widget “Unique Visitors by Source”
Select Standard “Pie”
Select “Unique Visitors”
Select “Source”
Show up to 5 slices
No filter
No link
Click “Save”

pie-unique-visitors-by-source-complete

The above image is what the widget should look like.

9. Unique Visitors by Content Page and Contact Us (Goal 1 Conversion Rates) – this will tie how many of your unique visitors visited a certain page and then also converted one of your goals

table-pages-unique-visitors-by-goal-1

Name the widget “Unique Visitors and Content Pages by Contact Us” if that is your goal.
Select Standard “Table”
Select “Page”
Select “Unique Visitors”
Select “Contact Us (Goal 1 Conversion Rate)” if this is your goal
10 rows is fine
No filter
No link
Click “Save”

table-pages-unique-visitors-by-goal-1-complete

The above image is what the widget should look like.

10. Unique Visitors and Average Time on Page per Keyword – this will show you how many unique visitors used what keyword to get to your website and how long they stayed on the page.

unique-visitors-avg-time-keyword-table

What does “not set” mean? Well, it’s kinda confusing but Google tries to clear it up with their explanation. To me, it’s tough to tell but basically Google is missing the dimensions it needs to determine the keyword.

What does “not provided” mean? This means that the user was logged into Google and was securing using search so the keywords are not passed along to Google Analytics. This is for privacy but you can “unlock” these keywords through these steps by KISSmetrics.

Name the widget “Unique Visitors and Avg. Time on Page per Keyword” if that is your goal.
Select Standard “Table”
Select “Keyword”
Select “Unique Visitors”
Select “Avg. Time on Page”
10 rows is fine
No filter
No link
Click “Save”

unique-visitors-avg-time-keyword-table-complete

The above image is what the widget should look like.

11. Contact Us (Goal 1 Conversion Rate) – this will show you how many times your goal converted.

conversion-goal-1

Name the widget “Contact Us (Goal 1 Conversion Rate)” if that is your goal.
Select Standard “2.1 Metric”
Select “Contact Us (Goal 1 Conversion Rate)”
No filter
No link
Click “Save”

conversion-goal-1-complete

The above image is what the widget should look like.

12. 3 min or more (Goal 2 Conversion Rate) – this will show you how many times a unique visitor stayed on the site for 3 minutes or more.

conversion-goal-2

Name the widget “3 min or more (Goal 2 Conversion Rate) ” if that is your goal.
Select Standard “2.1 Metric”
Select “3 min or more (Goal 2 Conversion Rate) ”
No filter
No link
Click “Save”

conversion-goal-2-complete

The above image is what the widget should look like.

13. Unique Visitors and Goal Completions – this will show in timeline form the number of unique visitors and how many times there was a goal completion.

timeline-unique-visitors-goal-completions

Name the widget ” Unique Visitors and Goal Completions”.
Select Standard “Timeline”
Select “Unique Visitors and Goal Completions”
Select “Unique Visitors”
Select “Goal Completions”
No filter
No link
Click “Save”

timeline-unique-visitors-goal-completions-complete

The above image is what the widget should look like.

There you go – eight different graphs to quickly view how your website is doing on your own personal dashboard.

final-google-custom-dashboard

How do you get a snapshot Google dashboard?

And of course, if these don’t meet your needs you can add many more widgets customized to your specifications.

In a future post, I’ll go over the main sections of Google Analytics that are important to dive into as well like Content – All Pages and Landing Pages.

And I’ll also look into custom reports – there are many good ones out there that other people have created – and how to add them as well.

If you have any questions, or want to add your own, just let me know by leaving comments below or contact me via your favorite social net.  All my connections are on the right.

What should you be posting on Facebook Farm Page? Top ten tips on what you should post to Facebook.

dairygood-2-percent-farmers

What does the other 98% think about farming?

So if you know that most of today’s U.S. population is disconnected from farming, then giving them an inside view is important. Notice, I didn’t say “educate” them on farming – it’s not what they want and definitely not how they want to hear it.

They want to be insiders on how farming works and they want to know farmers (farmers are still one of the most respected industries in the nation – check out the latest Gallup Poll) so they can ask questions directly.

When you look at it from their point of view, what do you think they would like to know?

How cows are milked? How hay is cut? What do dairy cows eat? Where do they sleep? How long after the milk leaves the farm does it take to get to my house? Are dairy cows treated well?

You can answer these types of questions easily. But instead of just answering, think of showing them and telling them a story around the answer.

If you’ve got your smartphone with you, then think of how you would answer questions on farm life using photos and videos.

Here’s a top ten list of things to post on your Facebook Farm page…

1. Post photos of farm life

Photos are half of all posts on Facebook and are the top shared posts. If you want your status update to be shared a lot, your best shot is with a photo.  Table Rock Farm and Hahn-Way Holsteins does a great job of showcasing a photo with insider information.

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Top Tip – use a photo program like picmonkey.com or Over app for your phone to put text or your farm’s logo on the picture. This keeps it from being misused or stolen and it helps your brand.

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2. Post videos of farm life

Videos are the next best thing to a photo and you can get more of the story of what you are doing. The only problem with video is that it takes more effort from the user to actually get the story. YouTube is the most shared website on Facebook so if you can put together a short video (2 min) then you’ve got a good shot at getting your message across.  Dairygood posted several videos on sustainability and dairy farming.

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3. Answer questions without them asking

If you ever want to know what people are searching for answers, simply use the Facebook search or a Google search and read the autocompletes. These are the top searches in your region.

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Type in your search and see what Google displays for you – make sure you log out of Google.

4. Get fans to engage and participate

You can ask people to help name calves, give them insight into how does modern farm equipment works, or just let them know what happened today on the farm.

This post by Dairy Carrie does a great job at getting people involved with naming a calf and showing how calves look when they are born.

dairycarrie-calf-naming

5. Give farm tours virtually

LeCows Dairy gives insight into silage, what it is and why they use it along with photos to engage people.  This takes time but the engagement is high and people love it.

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The Farmer’s Life also gets a question in this picture asking about what these tractors are used for.  It’s a great way to answer a question and engage someone not familiar with farming.

6. Ask them what they want to know.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask and people will let you know what they want to know.  Now you will always have people that will be distractors.  The main thing here is to engage when people really want to know vs. people just trying to get you to fight.  If that happens, you can check out this post on arguments and what to do.

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7. Share the best photos, videos, status updates from other farm pages.

When Redhead Creamery started its kickstarter campaign, they needed help from everyone – including other farm pages to spread the word.  Dairy Carrie stepped up to help and got the word out.  I’m sure Redhead Creamery will return the favor.  This should be the Golden Rule for all farmers on facebook.  Help spread the word and it will come back to you.

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8. Treat other pages like your page – post comments and share on their walls.

When Al Roker of the Today Show visited the Hatcher Family Dairy,  DairyGood tagged them in the post to let them know that they were talking about them on Facebook.  This also encourages the other pages to comment, like or share the post.

dairygood-at-post-hatcher-family-dairy

Tagging other pages lets them know that you are talking about them.

9. Be active at least once a day

It’s hard to argue when you are getting information directly from the source.

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If you can post more than that, it’s ok. Just don’t go too crazy.

10. When you share on your page, make sure to share on your profile as well.

So should be a no-brainer, but many people fail to do it.  You can easily switch to your page and then back to your profile via the desktop version of facebook.  With the Facebook Page Application, you can do it on your phone as well.

Ray Prock of Ray-Lin Dairy is very good at pushing his blog posts through Twitter, his Facebook Page and his personal Facebook profile right after a post.

raylin-dairy-where-do-cows-sleep

BONUS TIP – Use hashtags to reach new people

Will Gilmer of Gilmer Dairy uses the hashtag #dairy to reach people who may be using Facebook’s hashtag search to find out more about what people are talking about when they talk about dairy.  Don’t use more than three hashtags per post.

gilmer-dairy-hashtags

So what are your best practices for posting on your family farm page?  I would love to add them here.

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