We all know what an oxymoron is: working holiday, tight slacks and freezer burn. Well here’s another one “An anti-social dairy farmer”.  Farmers have always enjoyed the “social” aspect of their 24-7 business. Wherever there are two farmers there is bound to be good gossip.. ahemm … good conversation going on.

Can we talk?

In an industry blown about by the whims of Mother Nature, politics, local regulations and world issues … there’s a lot to talk about. Facebook and all other social media are all about connecting (Read more: 7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs To Be On Facebook).  It is absurd to think that our already social business would not grasp digital social networking with open arms and tapping fingers. Think about it.  Today at some point you will “social” ize with someone coming in your lane. Whether it’s a sales person of genetics, feed, seed, nutrition or health … you will meet, greet and connect at some level. To me, it follows that it should be natural to welcome delivery of the same informed decision-making tools from cyberspace.

Social media is made for farmers

Farmers are completely familiar with sharing opinions, recommendations and trusting those who have their feet in our barnyard, feed alley or under our board table or kitchen table.  Couple this with the home truth that farmers rarely have the opportunity to do their networking on the golf course, a sandy-beach or at the gym and social media is not only the logical choice it’s the perfect choice!

Videos such as Ram Trucks’ “Farmer” Super Bowl ad have gone viral promoting farmers to 0ver 20 million viewers on YouTube alone

Not that it doesn’t take getting used to.

Those of us, who spend time in social media, tend to live and breathe the space as if it were real life, which of course it isn’t. It is however, a great place to build a network, to find like minded people and discover what they are working on, and learn with and from them.  Just like over the line fence or at the farm supply store or at a farm meeting. It`s a place to live, learn and move forward.

The goal is to apply what we learn to real life.

Like any social interaction, the benefit comes from applying what you know to what you are doing. New ideas for improving the logistics, cash flow, genetics and marketing of our dairy businesses are what we are seeking out.  Doing these things better doesn’t only pay the bills, it also provides satisfaction for those who love their work. Now we can come in from the barn after a long day and have the quiet satisfaction of having a day’s work well done and take time to enjoy a more technical version of “cow talk”.

“The most important connection in marketing today is business to business”

I would challenge everyone in the dairy industry to modify that mantra to, “the most important connection in dairy marketing today is barn to barn”. Numbers wise, there are not a lot of us left out there.  In times past you looked to the horizon and saw farms as far as the eye could see.  Today, it’s hard to see a fellow farmer from that viewpoint. It doesn’t mean the network is lost, it simply means in the 21st Century it actually is a “network” of connected internet users.

From Face-to-Face to Place-to-Place

We need to receive these “online” conversations in the same way we receive face-to-face conversations.   When face to face we can express our view and assume from the non-reaction of the person we’re expounding to that they support our position.  It’s too bad we don’t hear their report when they share it with the next person who comes into the milk house.

There is the question of tone of voice being missing from social media.  Anyone who has had the tone in one of their emails misread will understand the problem. It’s hard to convey the subtlety of face-to-face or telephone interaction using words or text only.  However, when was the last time your spoken words were misunderstood?  Nothing promises total perfection.

What`s Next?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already beyond the beginner level with email and Facebook.  Do you have a Website or Blog? Don’t skip this step.  Your website is the first place you can let the market know that you have something they’re looking for.  Even if you’re not planning to conduct all your business on line, you still want to drive customers to your website or to your farm.

So how do you get started?

There are online Guides for every social media program. Check them out and set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.  Of course (bias aside) you could check out the Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook.  The wonderful thing about technology is that there are many ways to learn the how, what and when.  A simple question placed on “Google” and you can discover step by step instructions to your success using social media.

The first step is always the hardest.

The neat thing is that there is always somebody close to you that has the expertise to help you join up.   While “joining” is easy, it is wise to consider that rushing in and then doing nothing is like that New Year’s resolution to workout.  You join the gym but your membership is as active as the clothes hangar otherwise known as your Treadmill.  While you won’t lose it if you don’t use it, remember that it is “social” and why join, if you intend to remain a wallflower?

There are two questions to ask yourself.

  1. What do people need to know about you and your dairy operation?
  2. What do you need to know about the marketplace?

The primary goal in becoming “social” is to have your prefix, product or genetics come to a buyer’s mind the minute they have identified what they are looking to buy.  Hit people with your features and benefits and you win their minds.  Get your story out there and you win their hearts.

Make sure that you share new births, fresh heifers, your genetic successes, your dairy industry issues and your pride in your family business.  You can never post too many pictures.

Continually polish and perfect your “story”.  It’s the social magnet to attract more business.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

At the end of the day dairy farmers are definitely social.  We’re not talking extinction …but dairy DIStinction. Far from being on the verge of extinction, farmers are prime candidates for using this handy new tool.  In reality (a word overused today) we probably do better when our social life takes place in a variety of ways.  If we limit ourselves to one form … we limit ourselves period.  Let’s get social.

 

 

To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.