Don Schindler

Digital Strategy & Executive Social Media Trainer

Category: facebook (page 1 of 3)

How to host a virtual farm tour on your website or Facebook Page

As many of you know, most people have never visited a dairy farm, walked through a barn or met someone that works in agriculture. Right now their only experience with farming is from what they’ve seen on TV or on the Internet.  Even school farm tours are declining as schools have to do cut backs on trips or it may be too much of an insurance risk to bring kids to the farm.

virtual-farm-tour

So how can we get more people to the farm? We need to provide them with the right information – and in a form they want to see it. And right now, people would rather see the farm on their mobile device or laptop  than just read about it.

A virtual farm tour also allows for you to tell your story to them and build a human connection. While you might not think the farm is that exciting, to most consumers it’s an interesting place – very different than their urban or suburban lives. You can show them what you do, how you do it and why you do it – even if they never meet you face-to-face.

You have great stories to tell about your animals, your family, your business and your community involvement. A virtual tour can demonstrate your commitment to providing safe, wholesome products in a transparent and authentic way.

It builds trust in dairy and that’s what they need to feel good about consuming milk, cheese, yogurt and other products.

What is a virtual farm tour?

A virtual farm tour is a digital simulation of your farm. It uses a combination of videos or images to create an experience for the person watching online that is as close to in-person as possible.

arethusa dairy farm

Who should have a virtual farm tour?

I believe every farm should have a virtual tour.

Why?

Because then people can visit your farm (virtually) as many times as they like and, in fact, I would consider it one of your best advocates for spreading the good word about your dairy farm.

Another great thing about a virtual farm tour is that you can really control the shots and the questions you’ll answer. While you might be camera shy, it’s much easier to do a virtual farm tour then being in front of tens or even hundreds of people live.

What should be photographed or filmed for a virtual farm tour?

A virtual dairy farm tour is done a lot like a standard tour involving a live crowd except you’ll be writing, taking photos and filming the different parts.

It may take some time to do the tour but remember you’ll probably not have to do it again unless you’ve changed a lot on the farm.

And knowing how the farm is almost always on a plan for improvement, I would plan on doing a virtual farm tour every other year or so to keep it up to date.

Remember more people will probably visit your farm online then in person. It’s worth keeping it up to date as you improve the farm.

arethusa-video

Where should you put your virtual farm tour?

Whether it be on your website, your Facebook page, YouTube, or even on your local dairy checkoff’s digital properties. Why you might even get your farm tour on your cooperative or processor plant’s digital presence. The entire dairy community needs more virtual dairy farm tours.

Dairy Good Video Tour

How should you do a virtual farm tour?

Here’s a checklist of most everything you’ll need to complete your virtual dairy farm tour. I’ll list these out and then we’ll explain each piece of the tour.

Virtual Dairy Farm Tour Plan

  1. Write out your station stories.
  2. Get the correct equipment.
  3. Create any necessary station signage or graphics.
  4. Shoot photos or videos of the different stations.
  5. Edit the station stories.
  6. Place the station stories online.
  7. Monitor the virtual farm tour for comments and questions.

1. Write out your station stories.

Ok, what’s a station story?

Station stories are the stories you will tell at each station you set up on the farm.

Stations you should consider setting up:
Overall Introduction to the farm
Family Values and Employees
Calving area
Barn / Housing
Cow Feed
Milking Parlor
Maternity / Hospital Barn

You have an amazing story to tell whether you think so or not. Many consumers have never been to a dairy farm and you’ll be their first experience. Which brings us to this question:

Who is your audience?

I recommend that you visualize who your consumer is when writing down your station stories. Your consumer – the person you would like to influence – is young, inquisitive, bright (but might not get farmer lingo) and is genuinely interested in life on the farm. They could be a woman or man or you could think of both of them standing before you and they would like to engage in both the tour and a question and answer time.

When it comes to thinking of your audience also consider your role. You are going to be their tour guide but you are also their guide to good dairy farm practices. You are their mentor and teacher and they are your prized students because if they understand you and like what you are doing they will pass along your information to their friends.

This may seem overwhelming to you. Imaging yourself a guide with students and then having to write out your station stories but your virtual farm tour doesn’t have to be very long.

In fact, we would recommend that for each station’s story that you’ll only think about one or two stories to write out. You’ll want to make the virtual farm tour clear and easy to understand to ensure that your story will be remembered. You will also want to keep in mind that if you are filming the story so you’ll want to keep each station under three or four minutes.

Which stories / stations should you write out?

a. The overall introduction
While sometimes people think it’s easy to introduce yourself, it might be much harder on camera or writing it out. But if you stick to the basics of what people want to know then you should be ok.

The basics:
What’s your farm’s name?
Where is your farm?
What’s your name?
What kind of farm is it?
How long have you been a dairy farmer?
How long has your farm been around?
How many cows are on the farm?
Why did you become a farmer?
Answer some questions that you normally get from a live tour.
Where are we going next on the virtual farm tour?

Here’s some examples.
“Our farm is about more than our family. It’s about our cows — they feed us, just as we feed them. They are our livelihood, and so we treat them all with care and respect, and keep them calm and comfortable, so that they produce one of nature’s best foods – milk.
Our farm is also about our employees, who work hard so that all of us can make a living. Our farm is also about caring for our land, air and water – and our community.”

“I’m a dairy farmer who has been in the same business for 33 years with my husband. We both grew up on dairy farms, so we have almost 50 years of background experience in something we are truly passionate for. We are dedicated to producing the most wholesome dairy product for all people! …

True happiness comes from something we really enjoy doing, so I hope you can enjoy our products we work hard to provide for all.”

As you can see, this is pretty simple. You can add your own personal story – maybe talk about how a storm rolled through and you rebuilt the farm or why the farm has its name.

b. Family Values and Employees
You should   showcase your strong farmer values. It’s how you care for your employees and their families like you do the animals because it’s how you treat people that shows how you really care.

The basics:
Why do you farm?
How does the farm run?
How do you care for your employees?
What values do you share and act upon?

When you are doing your virtual farm tour, it’s important to emphasize how the farm has changed from the past. You should think about how you will mention what modern technology you use and why you use it as well as how your thoughts on environmental stewardship and sustainability. People want to know how you are caring for all aspects of your business – they know you need to make a profit but they don’t want that to happen at the expense of future generations.

c. Calving Area

People love calves and it’s always an engaging part of the tour. I would worry less about focusing the camera on you and more on the calves and your engagement with them. Remember to emphasize that everything you do is to benefit the animals and their care. Here’s some questions you can answer about the calves.

The basics:
How old are the calves?
Where are the mothers? (if you have separate housing)
Why are calves in that type of housing?
How long do they stay in the housing?
What does a calf eat and how often?
What happens to male calves on a dairy farm?

d. Barn and Housing
Many people believe that barns are supposed to be red and have those round sloped roofs. They may not understand all the benefits of the type of housing you provide for your cows.

The basics:
What type of housing do you provide for your cows and why?
What happens during a normal day for a cow?
What do your cows sleep on?
How often do they sleep?
How can you tell a cow is content?
What are the different sections of your barn?
Is there any technology you use that helps maintain the help of the cows?
Would probably answer questions about eating habits here.
How do you keep your cows cool?

e. Cow Feed
Many urban consumers are told myths about what dairy cows eat on a regular basis. Now you can show them what you feed your cattle and why you’ve selected this type of feed.

The basics:
What do cows eat?
How often do they eat?
What do cows drink and how much? (it’s always good to make comparisons to things that consumers normally use like cows drinking up to a bathtub of water a day)
What’s an animal nutritionist and how often do you talk to them?
Where does the feed come from?

f. Milking Parlor
The milking parlor is where the magic happens. Milking parlors come in all shapes and sizes so you should explain why you choose your parlor and how it works to milk the cows. There’s lots of moving parts within the parlor so it would be best to break down how the system works from the cows entering the parlor to the milk getting into the tanker.

The basics:
How does your milking parlor work?
– each step
Do the cows liked to be milked?
How much milk does each cow give?
How many times a day do the cows visit the milking parlor?
Where does your milk go?
Are there any antibiotics in the milk?
How do you test the milk?

g. Maternity / Hospital Barn
Basically you are showcasing animal care at its finest level as you explain how you care for cows that are in process of giving birth as well as cows that aren’t feeling well and how you take special care of both.

The basics:
How often does a cow give birth?
How long are cows pregnant?
How do you help the cows if they have any issues?
How long are cows in the maternity pens?
How do you treat sick cows?
Are sick cows still milked?
What happens to the milk?
What happens to cows after they get better?
Who is your veterinarian?
How long does it take for a calf to stand up on his/her own?
How much does a calf usually weigh?

2. Get the correct equipment.
To shoot and edit a virtual farm tour, you’ll need some equipment. Now there are lots of choices out there on the market but you don’t need Hollywood digital cameras to make a high end production. Many smartphones are excellent choices for filming your virtual farm tour.

For low cost production:
I recommend using an up-to-date smart phone and a tripod (an add-on microphone helps as well). Many phones can handle both the filming and editing of video clips. There are also excellent online video apps to help with special effects. Even YouTube allows for some editing. My personal use is an iPhone 6 with iMovie.

For mid level cost production:
I recommend a good video camera, tripod and mic and then transferring the files to a computer and using Adobe Premiere or Final Cut to edit the videos.

For high end production:
I recommend hiring professionals to do all of this for you. They can handle all the shooting, editing and final rendering of your videos. It will cost more but the production values should be outstanding.

Don’t ignore the tripod and microphone – both of these tools will come in very handy when shooting your own videos. There a lots of decent ones on Amazon.

For tips in creating good video and photos for your virtual tour, check out these posts.
7 Videography Tips for Farmers
10 Photography Tips for Farmers and Foodies

3. Create any necessary station signage or graphics.
While you don’t have to create anything to be used in a shot or photo, some farm tours have used signage to help people understand that talking points for that station. You could also add these in a graphic in a video if you understand how to add video graphics during editing. If you are looking for signage for your farm tour or examples of what others have used, please check out this link.

4. Shoot photos or videos of the different stations.
Again, it’s not necessary to put together your entire storyboard of everything you are going to shoot for your video before you film. But sometimes it’s helpful to think of different shots that you may want to take of the station.

For example, if you are filming the calves, you might want to have B-roll (extra footage that you can use to show different angles) of calves drinking milk from bucket or bottles, footage from inside the calf hutch, calves playing around in the barnyard, the vet checking vitals on a calf, or whatever else you want to talk about when showing your virtual tour. I recommend at least three or four different shots of the station you are shooting.

5. Edit the station stories.
My personal favorite video editing application/software is iMovie. It’s easy to understand and use but is limited. For larger projects, Adobe Premiere is an excellent choice. If you don’t have either at your disposal, then I recommend that you use the editing software that came with the smart phone or camera and try and make the videos shorter as lack of B-roll or multiple shots can sometimes cause a viewer’s attention to wander.

It is also smart to think about putting a watermark or text mark with your farm’s name on the video to keep others from stealing the footage and using it in ways you don’t want them to. In iMovie and other video  editing apps like Video Show, let you do this.

6. Place the station stories online.
The proper location for your virtual farm tour is important and should be geared to where your audience will most likely look for your videos or photos. Here are the locations I recommend.

  • YouTube – This is where the majority of consumers will look for videos. You can create your own channel for your farm or talk to your state/regional checkoff about using their channels.
  • Facebook Page – Having a Facebook Page is virtually a necessary in today’s communication. I recommend loading the videos onto your farm’s Facebook Page or you can talk to your state/regional checkoff about using their channels to host your videos.
  • Farm Website – I recommend that your virtual farm tour be hosted on your website on a single webpage – embedding the videos from YouTube or Facebook. If you do not have a farm website, then I would talk with your state/regional checkoff about hosting the videos on one of their webpages on their website.
  • There are many other video channels now available and I would view these as secondary to the ones listed above. You can upload videos to Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc…
  • When uploading videos make sure to turn the comments on but set the comments to be moderated so they don’t just automatically appear on the video platform. You can do this both on YouTube and Facebook.

7. Monitor the virtual farm tour for comments and questions.
After you have added your virtual farm tour videos to your website and social media channels, you’ll need to monitor them for comments and questions. It’s important that you answer them in a timely manner on social channels.

On YouTube, you may experience “trolls” or unanimous people that leave disparaging comments on your videos. The best course of action is to make sure the person is a troll or activist before deleting the comments. While it’s difficult to not get upset at these remarks, it’s important that you not get into an argument with these types of users.

If you have any questions about putting together your virtual farm tour, please feel free to reach out to me at don.schindler at dairy.org or your local state/regional checkoff.

Facebook Live: How do you livestream on Facebook?

Facebook has just released a new feature for the most people on Facebook. It’s called Facebook Live or Livestream. Basically, it allows you to live stream a video in the moment from wherever you are.

Facebook Live: How to live stream your videos

Facebook Live: How to live stream your videos

Is this something that dairy farmers or people in ag should be doing? I believe so.

Facebook video and live videos are going to get more playing time (in other words, Facebook will let more people see your streaming video than a status update). Plus it’s a great way to interact with the audience. You can see their comments on your video as you are filming (but remember that your audience cannot see the comments of other people right now on the video – I believe they do show up in the comment section.

So how do you livestream on Facebook?

1. It’s only on mobile so you must use Facebook’s mobile application.

facebook-live-status-update

Touch status update like you would normally.

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

How do I edit a photo online for free? One of my favorite photo editing tools is picmonkey and here’s how you can use it to create great images and fun memes.

 

 

Or like this?

picmonkey-facebook-placement

First, there are many great tools out there for editing photos and making great memes or images.

BTW, if you don’t know what a meme is that’s ok, the definition is kinda fuzzy. It’s basically any image or phrase that takes on a life of its own where people copy the image, change the image or text and repost it. Many grumpy cat photos are memes.

BTW, half of all Facebook updates that are shared are photos. If you want to be noticed on social networking sites – use photos!!!

So how do you make your own?

I use picmonkey mainly because it’s free and easy. I also have photoshop (though, I’ve never been professionally trained in it, I can still get around in. I believe it’s really too complicated for a beginner).

Here are other free services online if you want to use something different. These are in no particular order.

For my iPad, I like to use Over App. It’s simple as well.

1. Get your photo

hot-chocolate-milk

I used a simple hot cocoa photo from the free stock photo website – stock.xchng.

I downloaded it to my desktop and named it appropriately.

TIP – Name your photos for what they are.  So instead of img102872.jpg change it to hot-chocolate-milk.jpg.  Why? Because Google can’t see the photo but it can read what you called and associate those words as keywords for its image search.

 

TIP – do NOT take photos from Google Search or any other search engine. Or even photos on Facebook (unless they are yours) or any website. They are automatically copyrighted to that person or company that put them on the web. If you need photos, take your own or get them off free photo sites that allow you to manipulate the photo or buy them.

 

2. Upload your photo

picmonkey-homepage

You don’t need to register or anything. That’s pretty cool in itself. I’m so tired of filling out registration forms.

 

3. Here’s what the editor looks like.

picmonkey-editor

 

Let’s take a look around very quickly.  The top navigation contains:

picmonkey-editor-top-nav

Open – with a drop down of your computer, dropbox, Facebook or flickr (photo storage website)

Save – when you are done and ready to roll.

Share – you can share with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr, and Email (you’ll need to connect your networks if you want this feature)

Undo and do arrows – if you screw up and want to go back or forward with the step you just did.

Add a layer – for royale (paid) users

Settings – for your image settings – Bubbles is usually recommended and should work for most of your needs

 

picmonkey-main-nav

The left hand navigation is divided into two parts. The primary navigation is the icons, the secondary navigation will change depending on your primary navigation selection.

The left hand navigation is:

Home (looks like Crop) – basic edits which allows you to Crop, change Canvas Color, Rotate, Exposure, Colors, Sharpen and Resize.

Effects – these are different effects you can apply to the photo

TIP – if the effect has a crown on it, you must login and upgrade (pay) to use it.

Touch-up – lots of upgrades here except for some basic fixes like blemish fix.

Text – pic monkey has a great amount of cool fonts without paying. Probably one of their best features.

Overlays – these are images you can put on your photos. Cute hearts and stars. Things like that.

Frames – Put a nice frame on the photo or just round out the edges. Personally I like the old Polaroid look.

Textures – Put a texture over your photo.

Themes – you can add a bunch of different features based around the theme. Definitely something I should check out more.

So that’s the editor. Pretty simple.

Now let’s go through the steps of putting up an image on Facebook that I used pic monkey to manipulate.

 

2. Change the size

picmonkey-resize

My original photo was huge (both in size and in mega bytes so I wanted to change that. I dropped it to the standard Facebook wall size of 403 pixels wide. Now this automatically changes the proportions, which is fine and I want to keep those proportions so I don’t distort the image.

If I wanted the 403 pixels by 403 pixels (standard size for Facebook) I would resize and then crop – never uncheck the Keep proportions, it will stretch your photo and make it look not so good.

 

3. Crop the photo

picmoneky-crop

Instead of sizing down and then cropping, I decided to undo the change and go to cropping instead. I cropped down the photo the portion of the image I liked best.

 

4. Add text

picmonkey-text

Then I added some text and picked a grandma looking font to go with my grandma saying.

TIP – If you want to add text to an image, keep it like a billboard with very short sentences. Get your point across in the fewest words possible so people can just glance at it and learn what you have to say.

 

TIP – Add your website or Facebook page to the photo like dairycarrie.com does or facebook.com/DairyMom

dairycarrie-cow-fever

5. Add a frame

picmonkey-frame

You don’t have to add a frame but sometimes it’s nice to have. It shows people you thought about the photo a bit – remember anything to draw the eye is a good thing.

TIP – People’s faces and animals draw people in especially pretty and cute ones.

6. Save your image

picmonkey-save

Pretty simple to do. Just click the button at the top. You can pick one of three sizes. Roger, Pierce or Sean. Normally I pick Pierce. You can also select png or jpg. Normally I pick jpg because the file size is smaller. You can see the file size at the bottom.

TIP – You want the smallest size with the best possible resolution. Don’t pick the smallest size automatically if the image is broken up – it won’t be shared then.

7. Share your new image with world

hot-chocolate-facebook

The image is complete.  Now I can share it with all my friends and followers so they can share it as well.

If you don’t know how to use Facebook, I’ve got a complete Facebook 101 Tutorial.

Now you know how to use picmonkey, what kind of photos are you going to make?

Here’s a video if you if you want to watch how to do it instead of reading the notes below. Note: this is a third party and I have no relationship with his company.

Teach someone how to use Facebook over the holidays – Facebook 101

teach-facebook-gift

What do you want for Christmas?

Who wouldn’t want to spend their holidays teaching relatives how to use social networking?

Remember the benefits

  • less mass emails
  • less calls wondering how you are doing
  • there’s more of a chance of them talking to others besides just concentrating on you

I’ve recently completed a five-part Facebook 101 course.  It goes through all the basics so you don’t have to figure it out for yourself.

So if you are teaching your kids, your grandma, or your crazy uncle, this is a good reference.  Now granted it is geared to a farmer audience but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the same techniques.

Part 1 – How do you sign for Facebook?

Part 2 – How should you change your Facebook security and privacy settings?

Part 3 – How to friend someone on Facebook (and put them in a list)?

Part 4 – How do you post to Facebook?

Part 5 – What should you be posting on Facebook?

If there is any part I missed, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to add or answer your questions.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

 

What should you be posting on Facebook? Facebook 101 – Part 5

cow-grazing

Photo courtesy of Kevin Walsh (flickr)

When it comes to joining and then posting to Facebook, many people don’t give it a second thought.

I believe that most people think “Wow, here’s a great way to get my awesome thoughts out on the internet. So many people think I’m hilarious and upbeat – I can’t wait for so many people to respond to my awesomeness.”

Well, maybe not quite that but something along those lines. They post because they want others to notice they are posting. I’m here and I have something to say.

Unfortunately, they may say something positive and get a little response but then they experiment with negativity or a rant and they get a lot of response.

Or they post something racy and get a lot of response. But is this response what you really want others to think of you?

Facebook, like every digital social network, is building a digital image of yourself. You determine that image just like you do with your actions in the real world.

Like what you do, what you say, who you associate with, what your job is, where you go to church or if you go at all. All these things tell others about you.

So don’t count Facebook out of this. You will project an image no matter what you do – it can be viewed in a positive light or a negative one. That’s up to you.

Farmers have a great reputation with the masses.
They see you as hardworking, trustworthy, friendly – some of the best of what America has to offer. Why do you think that Dodge spent that much money on a Super Bowl ad associating their trucks with the American Farmer?

Check out the Dodge ad and the following Gallup Poll. It was a smart move and a great ad, by the way. Don’t know if it sold more trucks for them.

gallup-poll-aug-2013-farmers

Courtesy of Gallup

So why am I saying all of this?

Because I want you to be careful about your digital reputation – you, as the individual farmer, represent all farmers online. That’s why I think that maintaining that reputation of your name and the name of all other farmers is above all the mission.

So when posting to your Facebook profile, here are my tips for maintaining that solid reputation of being helpful, hardworking, smart and true to your families, animals and land.

 

1. Be positive and uplifting.

mike-haley-farm-shot

Posts should be helpful and realistic. I’m not talking about only posting Biblical or inspirational quotes. I’m talking about if something happens – even if it’s not something that you are happy about – put it in the context of how this could benefit my friends. Rants rarely benefit anyone and can sometimes cause more damage.

TIP – If you have to rant, go ahead and do it. Do it where it’s not going to be seen by the masses (like a word doc) and let yourself vent. Then sit on it for a while. Think about who is really going to benefit from this and who’s it going to hurt. If you really think you need to post it, send it to a good friend first to see what they think.

2. Don’t argue with others.

This is my only “don’t” in my tips. I have a post about how to win an argument that you should read if you think you really need to go to battle with someone online. It’s just three simple steps.

 

3. Know what your friends on Facebook like to see and tie that to what you would like them to know about you.

How do you do this? Well, most likely your friends are a lot like you in what they like to share, comment on and like.

lecows-dairy-silage

So when I create something, I look at it and think “would I share this?” If it’s something I don’t think I would share, then I start over. BTW, not everything you do will get people to respond. Just keep trying. The good thing is that farmers have a lot of content just hanging around the barn that people find pretty dang interesting.

 

4. Help others.

Help others with what?

jenn-schindler-yogurt-question

The questions they have about farming, the food you produce, how the animals are doing, what farm like is really like.

They seriously want to know and you can tell them via stories, photos, videos, etc…

If you say that “no one asks you questions”, I’ll find that hard to believe. It doesn’t seem to matter where I go people have questions about farming (like I could answer them – I don’t but I send them to farmers that can) and what’s it like to work with dairy farmers (pretty awesome in my opinion).

 

dairy-carrie-recipe

Another help is recipes.

I don’t post a lot of recipes but many people do and they get great responses from the recipes of simple home cooked meals using the great products you produce like cheese, milk, butter, ice cream and yogurt.

 

food-groups

Join groups.

If you are struggling to find things to talk about, join some groups and listen to their conversations. They can help you find what they need answers to and how you can join the conversation.

 

 

5. Always be interesting.

How can you be interesting? There are tons of good ways using the new digital tools at your disposal.

tim-zweber-photo-farm-life

Use photos – use your smartphone to take farm life photos. People love to share them and talk about the animals or the farmscapes.

TIP – if you want a lot of comments or shares on your photos, ask people to give you a caption for the photo or let them fill in the blank (it’s hard to resist filling in a blank – people like being clever).

ben-wagner-video-calf

Use videos – use your smartphone to take YouTube videos, a Vine and Instagram. Same as the top part

Just take a few seconds to give us a status update of what’s going on on the farm – you’ve been given the statistics of how many people are NOT involved in agriculture. Now you can share your view of the farm and life on it.

 

6. Give credit to others.

tim-zweber-comment-on-other-stuff

Share what others have posted. Comment on their posts. Liking is fine but it’s not going to help pass along a post to others.

When you pass along other’s information, they know it. They appreciate it and hopefully they will pass along your posts in the future. It doesn’t always happen but the golden rule can be very effective in social media because we are notified when people play by it.

 

7. Use hashtags.

dairy-carrie-cows-instagram

If you would like to meet new people in Facebook or get your postings seen by others besides your immediate circle of friends and friends of friends. Using them might seem a little weird but it’s still new. You can also follow other people’s hashtags.

So what are some of your favorite tips for posting?

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