For those who don’t understand social media, which tends to be the gray-haired generation, they like to say that Facebook is just a bunch of college kids spouting off about things that don’t apply to them. Furthermore, many say that there is no need to get involved in social media because it’s not where the “buyers” are. In actual fact, both statements could not be further from the truth. The first thing breeders need to understand about Facebook and the other social media platforms is that they are simply stories. Instead of breeders sharing stories in the milk house, or at ringside, they are happening online. It’s that change of location that is the first hurdle. Many are afraid of change. It is easier to pan it and accuse Facebook of being a fake than it is to adjust to the change.
There`s an even bigger difference. Instead of it being a one on one chat in your barn with a few people discussing who is the greatest show cow of all time (Read more: The 8 Greatest North American Show Cows of All-Time and Who would you vote for as the greatest Holstein show cow of All-Time?) or the best type sire ever (Read more: Braedale Goldwyn: Is he the greatest type sire ever? and Who would you vote for as the greatest type sire ever?) now it is happening online with thousands from around the world. This allows all breeders to tell their story to thousands of people, cheaper, and easier than ever before.
It’s all about telling a Story
Before Facebook, to get your story out there you needed to be fortunate enough to get one of the major print publications to do an article about your farm. Or you had to spend thousands in advertising to get your message out there. With tools like Facebook breeders can tell their story at relatively no cost to thousands of potential customers.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Are there really thousands of dairy breeders online?” The answer is “Yes. Yes. Yes.”. Despite the fact that some publications like to buy followers from nondairy markets in order to pad their numbers, there really are breeders who are having amazing conversations online.
Take for example the recent Breeder’s Choice Awards from the Bullvine (Read more: The Winners of the 2012 Breeder’s Choice Awards are…). In a one-week period we had over 3,000 Dairy Breeders cast more than 8,000 votes. Now I know the next comment will be that those are a bunch of college kids. Well actually our Facebook page reports that 50% are over the age of 25. Moreover, 31.6% of our followers are male over the age of 25. That’s 2897 followers that are male over the age of 25. That’s more than most dairy publications readership, male or female, any age. So they are not only college kids. In fact I have conversations with dairy breeders of all ages. Breeders who you would never have thought would spend so much time online, are actually following the conversation. In fact our Facebook page reaches over 125,000 people on a weekly basis. That is more than the COMBINED total subscribership of the major dairy breeder print publications in the world!
Think about that for a minute. On Facebook you can reach more people at next to no cost, than you can reach offline even when you’re spending thousands of dollars. Why is that? Well it’s simple, Facebook is today’s most effective tool for finding entertainment and information. How you ask? It’s simple. In your Facebook stream your friends comment, share and like photos, articles, videos or other types of content. By doing so, people who have similar interests to you (your Facebook friends) are in effect narrowing down all the content that is out there in the world, to what you’re most likely to want to read or watch.
For us here at the Bullvine Facebook has been one of the greatest sources for finding new readers. One of our current subscribers reads something on our website, finds it interesting enough to share it or make a comment about it on Facebook, and then their friends come to the Bullvine and read it as well. That is why you find many of our articles having hundreds of shares on Facebook, instead of donuts like the other online publications. We don’t only publish all the same boring new releases that every other publication puts out, but rather, on a daily basis, we are producing thought provoking original content. Instead of just bragging that we get thousands of visitors to a website a day, we have the trackable social proof from Facebook that people are engaging in our community. Moreover, it’s the reason many breeders, who don’t always agree with us, keep coming back to the Bullvine. Think about it, over the past year, what articles, events or content has driven the most conversation? You don’t need to be told where the conversation is at. As a dairy breeder you are part of the conversation and already know where it`s going on.
So how does this apply to the average breeder?
It’s really pretty simple. Set up your own Facebook page or a Facebook Fan page for your farm. Tell your story. Did you have a great classification round and want to let the world know? Share it on Facebook. Had a great flush and want to sell the embryos from it? Share it on Facebook. Your friends will spread the word and before you know it, you too will start to have a loyal following.
A few things to remember. Just like that first date with that hot dairy princess, it will go better if you don’t make it all about you. On our Facebook page we make sure for every story we share of ours, we share someone else’s story. That is one of the major reasons many breeders check out our feed on a daily basis. We are sharing content that we find interesting as a dairy breeder and, as a result, other dairy breeders typically find it interesting as well. That is also why almost 70% of the breeders who follow our page share, like or comment on the information and entertainment we are sharing on a weekly basis. Now 70% sounds like a big number and it is. On a weekly basis that is over 6000 people engaging in the conversation, that is almost 3 times as many as any other publication. The thing that these other publications don’t get is that instead of just sharing a pretty picture each day, we are sharing interesting articles from around the world. We are asking questions. We are joining the conversation. That’s because we get it. We are breeders first and love being part of the breeder community. We are not trying to drive traffic to our website, so we can justify the high expense to advertise on our site. We are joining in with and, often times, starting the conversation.
A great example of this is that recently we shared an advertisement from a sale manager for an upcoming sale. We were impressed with their list of consignments, so we shared it with our readers. That advertisement was seen by more people on our Facebook page, than in the major print publication that they had spent thousands of dollars on.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Now I know change can be hard. And for those who have been successful through traditional methods, it can be even harder to adjust to these changes. But the world has already changed. Either you adjust to live within or it will move on without you. Facebook is not Fakebook. It is real people, real stories and real connections. If you don’t learn to leverage the power of it, the only thing that is going to be fake is the money in your wallet.
To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.