Don Schindler

Digital Strategy & Executive Social Media Trainer

Month: January 2015 (page 1 of 2)

How do you become a farmer rock star?

how-to-be-a-rockstar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how does one become a rock star?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready to be a farmer rock star?

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

How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Twitter Profile

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

jimmy-kimmel-live-mean-tweets-NFL-edition

Courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel Live and YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

twitter-response

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

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

twitter-with-period

The period means everyone can see this tweet.

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

How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Facebook Page

weigel-dairy-facebook-page

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

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

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

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

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

How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Facebook Profile

facebook-messenger

Better to have the conversation in Messenger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

fight-fight-fight

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

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

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

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

First things first:

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

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

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

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

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

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