The days when dairy breeders could only find out the latest gossip from the local semen or feed salesman are long gone. With the help of social media platforms like Facebook, breeders can find out who won what show or who just got the VG-89-2yr almost instantaneous. The World Wide Web and more specifically social media have taken bulk tank conversation to a completely new level.
As a kid I could remember when our local embryo technician came in we would find out everything that was going on in the local community and then later when the sires analysts came in we would find out what bulls are hot or what gossip was going around. I can remember that every time the sires analysts came in we were always trying to find out who the next top bull was going to be. These days even the sire analysts are heading online to find out what’s happening.
The biggest challenge that has caused the dairy industry to be behind other is a perception issue. For a long while many breeders thought, and some still think that, twitter is just about what people are having for lunch and Facebook is about sharing pictures of the kids. The reality could not be any farther from the actual fact than that. There are over 77,000 dairy farmers on Facebook, and that the average Facebook user logins in daily. (To read more check out 7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs To Be on Facebook) Could you imaging a platform more suited for dairy breeders looking to find out the latest news?
Then there is Twitter. While still new to lots of dairy breeders there are some great opportunities for breeders to join in real-time discussion about the issue that face them. Two great examples of this are AgChat, a moderated Twitter discussion that takes place every Tuesday night, and Bullchat that happens on Thursdays at 1pm EST. Since its creation in 2009, nearly 10,000 people from ten countries have attached the hashtag #agchat to their tweets, or joined in to discuss issues and share ideas related to food and farming. In addition, the hashtag #bullchat has had many great discussions about the value of A.I. contracts, breeding cattle in the heat, Genomics, and many more pressing issues. All topics on #bullchat are breeder driven but have had some great support from the socialally enabled A.I. companies.
Gone are the days when the few magazines controlled what dairy breeders got to be aware of and think. In the past information was pushed on dairy breeders as the dairy publications decided what was relevant and what was not. In today’s socially empowered day and age, it’s now the dairy breeders who control the conversation and the dairy magazines are struggling to keep up.
If you look at how many of the dairy magazines are using social media you will see that they are just using these new channels to push out the same old message. They are not working at engaging in the conversation. Instead of letting breeders dictate the conversation, they are trying to dictate to the breeders. Check out how many of these magazines allow comments on their articles? What are they afraid of? Better yet how many of these magazines actually share articles online? Alternatively, are they just using their social media accounts and their website to sell more magazines?
Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. But for the most part nobody knows how. When breeders finally get on to social media and learn as they go, they discover that it was not as hard as they thought. The biggest thing I can say, just dive in, I am sure you will enjoy the ride.
For those of you wanting a little guidance check out “The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook”.