‘Agvocacy’ is a term that was coined by farmers and ranchers who are dedicated to spreading the good word about agriculture through online promotional efforts. These grassroots campaigns use more than just good, old-fashioned word of mouth. Instead, producers are getting online and using Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube to spread the positive word about agriculture today, as well as correct any misinformation presented in the news.
These online campaigns have accomplished a great deal for the industry, especially in helping to secure and protect agriculture for future generations. The 2010 National Beef Ambassador Team, which consists of Jackson Alexander, Ellie Hoffschneider, Becky Vraspir, Mandy-Jo Laurent and Mallorie Bankhead, addressed this topic at the 2011 National Beef Ambassador Competition on Oct. 1 during a workshop for the contest participants. And they encouraged their fellow producers to get on board.
The National Beef Ambassador Team maintains their own blog site, www.beefambassador.com, where they have committed to write every day.
“As beef ambassadors, we are passionate about spreading the positive word about our industry through online efforts,” Hoffschneider says. “I used to think my social life on sites like Facebook had to be separate from my cattle life, but now I post information on these sites to share with my friends and classmates. I believe it’s important to correct the misconceptions spread by the media today.”
Alexander adds that “industry advocates are truly loyal to the beef industry, and we see great examples of these folks on social networking sites all the time. When sharing the positive word online, it doesn’t have to be on a particular topic; it’s all about getting the positive word out on a regular basis.”
When handling negative articles in the media, the team offered up this advice.
“One thing we have learned is to never repeat the negative that is stated in the article,” advises Vraspir. “We need to work to only repeat the positive stuff.”
On Facebook, the National Beef Ambassadors maintain a network of 2,339 fans. They also have 608 followers on Twitter. In addition to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, their blog tackles issues on behalf of America’s beef producers. For example, they may address food safety questions from consumers and offer up healthy ways to prepare beef. The ambassadors are watchful for negative media attention farmers and ranchers may receive, and are quick to respond with the facts. Their influence is quite apparent to their friends and colleagues, who receive their updates through social media networks.
Of course, social networking can be used for more than responding to negative articles. Many producers are logging on to promote upcoming bull sales or direct users to their websites for information on their breeding program. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube are certainly good agvocacy tools, but they can also be great additions to an operation’s marketing strategy as well.
Tell us how you reach out others within and outside the industry to promote your industry and product? Do you Twitter or use Facebook? What do you like or not like about these social sites?