Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Does Social Media Have Legs?

When I first got into the feed business, I got so frustrated by what I call, "the good ole boys network." I might have the best product, the best programs, and a great price, but still not get the business. So many of the reasons that people were doing business with each other was due to the relationships they had established. It took a lot of time to get a relationship going with many of these folks. But it came down to relationships.
People are comfortable with those they are most comfortable with. No different than anyone else.
Over the last four years I've been navigating the world of social media. I started on Facebook to stay in touch with some wonderful young people I met on a church service project. To see how this new thing called social media would affect their world. At some point I added Twitter in. And my world got a lot bigger, and a lot smaller. I now have friends in the farming community from all over the US and Canada. Dairymen and women, nut farmers, cowboys, pork producers, college students, ranchers, foodies, equipment dealers, agronomists, and people at BPI are among my friends. Displaced farm kids, wanna-be-farm kids, dairy suppliers, calf ranchers, a dairyman from "across the pond", and a couple of farmers from Australia. Many of them have embraced social media as a way of life. Some have become good friends.
 In much of the farming community, social media is viewed primarily as just that, social. It's a part of life that doesn't get to intrude in on the business of business. Conversations about social media and the business community almost always get back to, " how does this help my business". I wish I knew how to make that transition. It's a different way of thinking about doing business.
Does it have any legs? I don't know. But a little while back I got to see what it is capable of accomplishing.
Recently, shareholders for Domino's Pizza voted down a resolution brought forward to eliminate the use of pork produced through the use of gestation stalls. The shareholders voted it down by 80%. A group of farmers decided to thank Domino's for trusting farmers and animal welfare experts to care for animals. First on board was a hog farmer from Missouri named Chris Chinn. She writes a blog thanking Domino's.
So I wrote a blog thanking Domino's for their stand as well, and then we created an event called, Ag Pizza Party in conjunction with a Facebook page called The Truth About Agriculture.
Participants were asked to leave a note thanking Domino's for their support of farmers. In the end, whatever Domino's decides, is their decision to make, but the ag industry was thanking them for going about making that decision the right way.
It went over really well. Pictures were posted from all over the US. Some Domino's stores received stacks of thank yous. The Truth About Agriculture event got thousands of hits. Tens of thousands of hits.
Has that turned into any business? I can't say. I truly don't know. But it bears some watching.