Don Schindler

Digital Strategy & Executive Social Media Trainer

Month: October 2013

Creating Your Digital Legacy For Future Generations

Grandpa Les Schindler 1938-1939

Grandpa “Les” Schindler on the farm around 1938-39

My grandfather (Leslie “Les” J. Schindler) was born January 1, 1918 and passed while I was in grad school – Nov 16, 1998.

He was a farmer and mechanic. On the farm, we had a dairy cow, about 40 head of cattle and we planted corn and soy beans.

Growing up I spent a lot of time on back fender of his tractor until I was old enough to drive one (I think around 6 or 7).

Then we would spend the days following each other around the fields. He would be cutting hay. I would be conditioning. He would be baling. I would be stacking.  He would be picking. I would be unloading the corn.

I learned a ton from him – about hard work, perseverance, and a few mechanical skills. I miss him a lot. Especially now that I have a family of my own. It would be great to understand what he thought about his situation and how he dealt with life’s ups and downs.

But he didn’t leave a lot of things behind. Great memories for sure, but nothing really written down.

If he had I would go back to those writings quite a bit.

I would look to what he said and how he said it. I have just a few of those grandpa quotes I remember – one of my favorites that he would say to grandma at the end of night when company had overstayed their welcome.

“Come on, Mother. Let’s go to bed so these people can go home.”

He had a twisted sense of humor.

I wonder if he had the ability to write down his everyday thoughts, would he?

Would he have been a blogger?
Would he had tweeted about the farm?
Would he had shared about the house and barns he built by hand?
Or the animals he cared for?

Probably not. But if he would have created the text, the pictures, the video, the vines, whatever it was – I would read it all, over and over. I respected the man quite a bit but I don’t remember much about what he thought. I just have a few pictures and a bunch of hazy memories of my childhood.

When I think of the opportunity that social media has given me, it kinda blows my mind. You have any opportunity to share with generations that only a handful of people have done in the past.

You can give you minute-by-minute updates of your life in real time. You can follow and learn as much as you want from others.  It’s amazing how connected and documented we are now. We all have audiences – and these audiences actually care about what we are writing.

Facebook as Digital Diary

What do you think about these digital tools documenting your life?

But it’s more than that.

We are essentially writing the books of our lives with ongoing commentary of friends and family and, maybe some detractors as well. That’s a lot different than a normal diary.

Yes, I keep in mind very well the people that are in my social networks when I’m sharing information. I want them to respond to me and I want to be a value add to their days. But I also need to keep in mind my future generations. The sons of my son, the daughters of my daughter’s daughter.

They will be influenced by what I say here because this will be my only voice after I’m gone.

I say all of this not because I want to scare you into deleting your Facebook account. We have all probably vented a few times too many, gone off on a rant or posted photos that could be taken out of context.

No, I say this, because I want you to keep sharing. I want you to pass along your wisdom to future generations and share with them what it was like to live at this day and age.

The stuff you do daily is actually very important.  If you are farming and sharing that information, there’s a good chance that the people who stumble across your blog or Facebook page or twitter profile aren’t connected to that lifestyle.  The daily stuff is new to them and very interesting. It’s not something they experience everyday.

And when generations look back like we do at the 1800’s when people were documenting their lives to share with others via mail but our future will definitely want to look into the past for insights. The sunrises you saw, the work you were passion about, the people you spent time with, the adventures you have are all part of this crazy social media world and it will be available forever to them.

So maybe this post is a little too sentimental. And maybe it’s not “real” enough because I edit out of social media some things that might be a bit too controversial for my future generations and my audience. That’s ok – I’m not and you aren’t – being graded on this.  You can share the controversial – sometimes that makes for lots of discussion – but just remember to be civil and kind.  It’s ok to disagree. It’s not ok to be a jerk.

I just want the future gens to trust me (even if all they know about me is what they have seen when I’m an old man who couldn’t have possibly been young at one time) and know that I thought about them when I was creating. I shared because I cared about them.

So I’m hoping that grandpa would have blogged had he been given the chance.  This way I could go back and visit with him even after he’s gone.

What do you think about future generation viewing our digital profiles? Any issues with it? Does it change how you think about social media?

How to Get Executive Support for an Advocacy Program in 4 Steps

Steve Knox

Steve Knox of P&G

I’m a huge believer in advocates. I think they hold a lot of power but harnessing that power can be difficult.

Advocacy programs or simply a Word of Mouth program needs resources that right now might be dedicated to other projects.

Convincing the executive team to give you those resources may be challenging so here’s a few simple steps that you can take to give yourself a better shot at getting them.

First, let’s make sure we’re grounded in what an advocate is vs. an influencer. Many people sometimes don’t understand the difference. I love what Jay Baer at Convince and Convert and Zuberance did in the below infographic.

Advocates vs. Influencers via Jay Baer and Zuberance

Advocates vs. Influencers via Jay Baer and Zuberance

1. Advocacy is just a digital Word of Mouth program

If you take into account how people converse nowadays (social media, texting, group chat, Skype, etc…), you need to be part of the conversation. So here’s some examples:

  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin)
  • Reviews (amazon, Yelp, Google, Epinions,)
  • Recommendations Trip Advisor, Yahoo! Answers, Expert or List Blogs)

2. Advocacy directly combats negative information

This is something that is high on every executive’s list. They hate to see bad things about their products and services. If you have advocates then others (not just your marketing team) can go out and champion the company over what others have said. But if you don’t have a good product or service, then you might want to stay off the internet. 🙂

Yelp Review

3. Advocacy Program Success Metrics must match Business Goals

Don’t go into the executive’s office with terms like follows, likes and sentiment. Go in there with statements tied to Grow Revenues, Reduce Costs and Improve Satisfaction.

You can say things like “we can potentially grow revenues by $$$$ if we have amplification of our messages because we know that if more people are talking about our product online then our sales increase by $$$$”. If you don’t have that correlation set up currently, start working on it.

But you can also say “we can potentially reduce $$$$ by having more effective knowledge management of our product/service online using advocate commentary in our help forum. Right now we employ XX people and they put up XX content pieces a month. With advocates, we could increase this by XXX or something along those lines.”

Advocacy Metrics Must Match Business Goals

4. Advocacy is a big part of the current and future state of digital communications

This step is a bit bigger and requires a bit more work on your part to get across but I believe you’ll be a better communicator if you understand where the future of technology and communications is going.

With the current state, you can go into how the web works and how to manipulate your online reputation using the current methods.

You feed the Internet with:

  • Great Content (websites & blogs)
  • Constant Content
  • Share via social networks

This will work for now but this system is morphing constantly.

For the future state, you’ll need to do a little reading and researching but there are several trends that will help paint a picture for your executives.

the-age-of-context I recommend grabbing a copy of “Age of Context” by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. It’s an easy read and will definitely give you some thoughts on how the future is shaping up.

They focus on five trends that are coming together to form this digital future – social media, mobile, sensors, big data and GPS location. I won’t go too much beyond this besides telling you to read the book. It’s worth the time.

I love using examples of these trends in how they are coming together. You’ll find them in the powerpoint.

So after you’ve convinced your executive team to help you build an advocacy program, I always recommend you start with an employee program first.

This way you can cut your teeth on people who will be a little more forgiving about the experience and you’ll really be ready to handle customer advocates in the future.

We’ll talk about the step by step instructions on building an employee advocacy program and a customer advocacy program in the future.

For now, though, do you have any recommendations on how to convince your executives to start an advocacy program?

How to set up Twitter for your family farm in 6 simple steps

Now I’ve gone through the five reasons why I think you should be using twitter for your farm business and I promised to show you how to set up a Twitter account in just a few simple steps.

1.  Go to Twitter and create an account.

twitter-sign-up

You don’t have to worry about creating the username just yet.  Just fill in your name, email and password. I would recommend getting some photos and/or logo of your farm for the profile photo section right now.

2.  Choose your username.

twitter-sign-up-page

This name can be changed down the road but it’s a real hassle so choose your name wisely.

If you are doing this as a farm business account, I would suggest using your farm name like I did here with SchindlerFarms (there can be on spaces and I would avoid underscores or dashes.)  If you have to change your twitter handle, you can change it via Twitter.

If you are setting up a Twitter handle for a personal account, I would recommend using your name. It’s tough to build other names or brands that would represent you and in the long run, most anonymous accounts will be forced to be more transparent. You don’t have to do this, it’s just a recommendation.

Then click Create My Account.

Your account is now live and twitter is showing you a sample tweet from The Twitter Teacher.

twitter-preview-page

3. Twitter will prompt you to start following other Twitterers.

twitter-timeline-following

These will most likely be people who are popular celebrities or entertainment brands who have paid to be here.  You are more than welcome to follow them if you wish. You would do this by clicking Follow next to their names.  The blue checkmarks mean that these accounts have been verified by Twitter to be real.  Not everyone on Twitter is verified.

I would suggest skipping this and using the search box to find people you want to follow.

For instance, I put in the term “dairygood” into the search field and got back a few people.

twitter-search-following

As you can see, there is Dairy Good, me and Mollie Wallers (chief communications officer for Dairy Management Inc.).

Of course, they would like you to follow more (when you click Next) so I put “dairy farmer” in the search box and up comes some more people to follow.

twitter-following-more

As you follow more people, they get added to your timeline in the center of the screen. You will see everything they tweet (this isn’t like Facebook where the algorithm decides who you see).

If you are looking for dairy farmers to follow, I recommend @rayprock, @_sdmaddox@dairycarrie, @gilmerdairy, @ezweber, @zweberfarms@nyfarmer and @TrentBown. There are many, many more and you can follow my whole list of farmers is getting big out there on twitter.

When you start following people, you need to use the Twitter Lists function to help divide people into separate listening streams.  I will do a follow up posts on using Lists and other tips and tricks to make the most use of Twitter.

Click the Next button to most pass the search and follow feature.

4.  Twitter will want you to connect your email to find them on . I don’t recommend this.

twitter-contact-email

There’s a small light “Skip” link in the bottom left. I would click that and move along.

5.  Add your profile pic and your biography information.

twitter-profile-upload-bio-text

Now this is very important because this is one of the ways people will find you.  The image will help people see who you are.  I recommend a farm shot or your logo – make sure the logo is already in a square image.  I matched the profile pic to my profile pic on Facebook for branding.

UPDATE NOTE: Tim Zweber of @zweberfarms recommends using people profile for farm photos and I agree.  People like socializing on Twitter with people.  Put a face on your farm.

You also have room to put in your biography text of 160 characters.  I put in the name and basic keywords if people would be looking for a farm in southeast Missouri.  I would recommend putting in your websites and other social links.

You can also hashtag things here as well if you want Twitter to pull in your profile into hashtag searches.  I didn’t do that here but you can.

If this is a personal Twitter account, I recommend using “Views are my own.” to help protect yourself from issues with FTC and advertising.  It helps people understand that you are not intentionally tweeting information that could be misconstrued as advertising for your business or farm.

All your employees, especially if they share information over Twitter about your business, should have that on their profiles.  They should also mention that they work for you like my profile example.

“SVP, Digital Initiatives at #Dairy Management, Inc. I work for farmers! http://dairygood.org  http://donschindler.com  #dairygood Opinions are my own. :)”

6.  According to Twitter, you are all done.  But not me. Let’s make sure our Profile looks nice and add some more information.

twitter-timeline-finish

Let’s click on the “Make Your Profile Beautiful” or if you closed it, just click on the little gear icon on the top right by the search bar and go to Settings.

Once on Settings, click Profile.

Here you can add a header photo, your location, and your website again.

Do NOT click Facebook Connect.  You don’t want your tweets automatically going to Facebook.   If you want to control both profiles from one application, I recommend Hootsuite and you can set that up using this my post, Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Hootsuite For Your Farm.

Now I know I didn’t get into how to communicate on Twitter, that will be a post coming up along with the tips and tricks.

Did I miss any steps that you would add for the initial set-up?

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