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Tweet Chat

In my Social Media in Public Relations class we were assigned a Personal Learning Project.  The project required you to select anything related to social media, research it and create a deliverable on what you learned.  It had to be something new to you or you would just be cheating yourself.  At first I thought…”oh yah another boring project to keep use busy”…but once I started I realized how important it is to be able to teach yourself how to use social media, because it is continually changing.  Here is what I learned about Tweet Chats.  I challenge you to find something that is new to you related to social media and learn how it can help build your business. Click here to see what I learned Tweet Chats.

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Write. Share. Discuss. Report. Repeat.

Last week our Social Media in Public Relations class had the opportunity to here from Sean Dixon, Interactive Media Manager for Springfield, Missouri’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. Here are my reaction essay from that night.

Before Sean Dixon began to speak I was already impressed by his unique Halloween costume.  Pee Wee Herman was a classic Saturday morning children’s TV show and favorite of mine while growing up. I didn’t really care what he had to say after seeing him with the confidence to pull that wardrobe off, but fortunately he was also a good speaker.

Social media seems pretty simple for people like you and me.  But for the average American it can seem supernatural and foreign. As Interactive Media Manager for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sean Dixon’s job is to educate the average American in the benefits of using social media.

I am a visual learner, so as soon as I saw the chart tying it all together, a light bulb went off in my head. This continuous chart was what I found the most interesting, because it was so simple. Publish a message. Share your message with your audience. Discuss your message with your audience.  Review and Report your efforts.  Then simply repeat.

The first three steps are nothing new. From the beginning of the term “social media,” society has been writing their thoughts, sharing with others and then commenting or responding to posts. Social media has from it’s beginning been a forum for mainly personal use. It has only in recent years been transformed into a marketing tool. That’s why the fourth step in the CVB’s approach to social media is something that is new and being demanded more and more, but few know how to go about getting the results.

I do not get paid for my social media efforts, but I do manage a couple Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for family businesses. Over the summer my father-in-law asked about the farms Facebook page and I quickly showed him how it all worked and explained the Insights. He got really excited to be able to view what posts got more interest then other, etc. Since then I have found myself more dedicated to using these stat pages to help me got more marketing from these free social media sites. I was thrilled to see that the CVB was educating others how to benefit from them too.

Another aspect to Sean’s message I found interesting was the CVB’s social media stack. It is easy for us to want to jump right in utilizing all forms of social media. Sean reminded us to figure out what our goals were and then decide which forms would be best for the business. There is no need in using them all if they aren’t all used to their full potential.

Does this build on everything we have discussed this semester? For me it is an easy yes. Reading something in a book doesn’t mean I believe it will work for me. Hearing how it has worked from others and seeing the results is what sells me. We have talked about writing, sharing, discussing and reporting each week in class. Now, I am not saying I wasn’t already sold on using social media as a public relations tool, but I enjoy hearing real-life application of it’s success right here in Southwest Missouri.

5 Apps for Ag Communicators

Smartphones have turned from a fab way to make phone calls, text and play games to a tool used to maximize your business. My first smartphone was an iPhone 3GS. I didn’t jump on the bandwagon right out the gate simply because I was a poor college student and had to wait for my first decent paying job to make the purchase. When I did I quickly started downloading apps like Facebook, Pandora, Weather Channel and lots of games. I used my iPhone for pure entertainment.

Now, I have an iPhone 4 and as I flip through my apps I still find a few go-to-games, but I see myself using more apps that serve a purpose. That purpose for me is being an agriculture communicator. I would like to share with you a few apps to help you work from your phone and spread the message about the wonderful world of agriculture.

1.  HoursTracker

  • Price – $2.99 or a FREE Lite Edition
  • DetailsHoursTracker easily tracks your working time and earnings with a streamlined, easy-to-use interface great for use on the go. Start a timer with two taps of the finger or track your time by just entering in your punch times manually. Track time while using other apps, add as many jobs are you like, assign a pay rate to calculate earnings, set up pay periods and view your time by weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly, export reports to email, etc.
  • Why I Love – Keep track of the hours you work on your clients websites, blogs and social media sites. Organize hours you edit photos or video footage to send to customers.  It is always hard to guess the amount of time you spend on certain projects, this app allows you to stop short changing yourself and start getting paid for all your hard work and creativity.

2.  Dragon Dictation

  • Price – FREE
  • DetailsDragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application that allows you to speak and instantly see your text or email messages. You can dictate status updates directly to your social networking apps or send notes and reminders to yourself.  Editing feature provides a list of suggested words, voice driven correction interface, paste text into any application using the clipboard, etc.
  • Why I Love – While on the road or out in the field this app allows you to get your ideas and thoughts on paper quickly.  I am always brainstorming blog topics, status updates, to-do lists and emails while driving or away from my computer.  This helps me keep track of all the random thoughts going through my head that I would otherwise forget.

3.  Instagram

  • Price – FREE
  • DetailsInstagram is a simple way to make and share photos.  Pick from one of several filtered effects to add creativity to your mobile photos.  Share photos in a simple photo stream for friends to see and follow friends’ photos.  Instantly share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Posterous, unlimited uploads, receive likes and comments.
  • Why I love – Smartphone cameras are state-of-the-art capturing pictures with as much resolution as a small hand held camera.  I always have my phone on me and use it to capture everyday memorable moments I want to share with others.  I use this app with Twitter the most.  It adds the picture in a short URL right to your tweet.  The effects allow you to share photos that look like they have had hours of editing.

4.  Keek

  • Price – FREE
  • DetailsKeek is an easy way to share video moments and status updates.  Send microvideo updates (“keeks”) using your smartphone. Share your keeks to Facebook and Twitter followers. Connect. Capture. Share.
  • Why I Love – Who knew it was as easy to share video as it was a simple photo. Instead of writing a status update to announce to customers of an upcoming event or sale…how about you record a short video clip.  Keek is a fun way to be different and show some creativity.

5.  TurboScan

  • Price – $1.99
  • DetailsTurboScan turns your smartphone into a multiple scanner for documents, receipts, whiteboards, business cards.  Scan, store, print or email them as multipage PDFs or JPEG files.  Auto edge detection, fast processing, document naming and storage, open in other apps like Dropbox or Evernote, compact attachments, etc.
  • Why I Love – Using this efficiency app allows you to organize your on-the-go business. Instead of losing those reimbursement receipts or forgetting where you put all the business cards you got at the last farm show…scan and export to email or other word processor.

Let’s Get Chatting

Twitter has become a household name and is nothing new to most.  I have tweeted for a while not, but had not truly jumped on the bandwagon until recently.  In the last couple of months I have really become excited about using Twitter to not simply keep up with my friends and favorite celebrities, but to be a voice for my passion…agriculture.  As I began to follow agriculture communication professionals, organizations and magazines I came across @agchatfound.  The Ag Chat Foundation has a mission to empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities social media platforms.  Through this mission they created @agchat, a weekly conversation for folks involved in the business of growing food, fuel, feed and fiber.  This chat is held every Tuesday night from 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET.   This vitual conversation allows people from all over the world to share ideas and viewpoints about issues facing the agriculture industry.  #AgChat is the largest online Twitter community dedicated to getting the conversation started.  More than 2,000 people from seven countries and four continents have taken advantage of this social media outlet.

Ag Chat Foundation also started a sister chat, known as #FoodChat.  This forum takes place every third Tuesday of each month, in lieu of #AgChat.  Topics are geared towards consumers, nutrition pros and foodies.  This is such a cool opportunity for people to actually “meet a farmer” and learn from each other.  Both chats utilize a moderator who posts using @agchat or @foodchat.  The moderator announces the chat topic, poses questions and may ask for clarification on specific posts.

If you are new to this form of chatting the folks at Ag Chat Foundation have listed a few tips to help make the process fun and easy:

  • Introduce yourself, your connection to ag, affiliation, etc., even if you come in late.
  • Always use the #agchat or #foodchat tag.
  • Stay on topic or ‘respect the chat’ as some like to say.
  • Watch for questions to be posed from @agchat or @foodchat (moderator will typically announce question is closing & next question is on the way).
  • Use the questions number (ie: Q1, Q2…) in advance of your response so that people trying to follow the conversation later can identify what you are responding to.

These tips can be applied to any chat you join.

Both chats are powered by www.tweetchat.com.  All you have to do is login to your Twitter account, choose a hashtag to follow you find interesting and begin conversing in real-time.  Chat forums are created on various topics.  Specific topics are chosen and questions created related to that topic.  Questions are posted and are answered during an allotted amount of time.  Followers are encouraged to answer and comment as much as they want.  Another forum host can be found at http://twubs.com.  Both outlets keep you tuned in to the quick moving conversation.

I See $$ In Your Future

I just came across an article on Mashable that really caught my attention.  And when I say caught I mean it has to be something big.  I follow Mashable using Google Reader and those who do also will agree that they post a lot of things about social media and technology, so much that I simply skim titles and only read the ones that catch my attention or on a topic I am interested in.  So, what you might ask caught my attention…$$!  That’s right it was about an easy way for us all to make some extra cash.

According to Mashable, Automattic, the company who produces WordPress.com and Federated Media has come together to give bloggers using WordPress.com the ability to place ads on their blogs.  Ben Parr, blogger for Mashable, said, “The partnership will allow brands to advertisers to target participating WordPress.com site owners in order to reach the audiences that are relevant to them.”

As of the moment I wrote this WordPress.com has 63,005,672 WordPress sites and host about half of this number.  Over 306 million people view more than 2.5 billion pages each month and WordPress.com users produce about 500,000 new posts and 400,000 new comments on an average day.  I would think advertisers would be knocking at many bloggers doors for the chance to tap this niche market. 

Although they have not released how much bloggers will profit from this; in my opinion I don’t get anything now, so a little is better than that.  But could there be a downside to ads on blogs we read?

The one that pops into my head are busy sites that take away from the content.  I appreciate a blog that is clean and easy to read.  While this is a minor complaint on a otherwise great idea, I would hate for readers to turn up their noses to a blog because of the ads getting in their way of an easy read.

I for one am not banking on the whole blog thing making me money, but I know there are many out their that already do and now many more can.

5 Ways Women in Agriculture are Using Social Media

I am a woman, I love agriculture and I love social media.  So, I thought I would highlight some of the top ways women in agriculture use social media to promote ag advocacy and their passions in life.  I am not new to social media.  I remember when Facebook finally came to Missouri State University my sophomore year of college.  But until recently my use of social media was purely for connecting with friends and family.  These women have influenced me to become an advocate of agriculture using social media.  I hope you can learn from them as well.

1.  Cindy Zimmerman, Vice President and Co-Founder of ZimmComm

2.  Amanda Radke, author of Beef Daily Blog and editor of Beef Daily

3.  FARMnWIFE, Farm Blogger Helping Farmers Blog

4.  Wisconsin Women in Agriculture

  • For 30 years Wisconsin Women in Agriculture have worked hard to advocate for agriculture by telling their story, but they wanted to take it one step further and learn how to use today’s technology…social media.
  • Lisa Condon hosted a social media training day at her farm.  They brought in Danielle Hammer and Nancy Kavazanjian.  These women understand agriculture and social media.
  • Using the technology of webinars the women were able to learn how to use social media to tell their story.
  • Check them out on Facebook, Rock River Chapter of Wisconsin Women In Agriculture.

5.  The American Agri-Women Daily, published by American-Agri Women

These are just a few of the many women across the country who are excited about sharing what agriculture means to them through the great technology of social media.  How are you sharing your story?

Share What You Love

Maybe I am behind the times and you have all heard of Pinterest.com.  My sister just sent me a Facebook message sharing a picture she liked.  I was intrigued so I checked it out.  A tagline on their website says, “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard to organize and share the things you love.”  It is such a novel idea!  I have spent the past hour browsing through pictures and there is an endless amount of content.

After a little research I was excited to find Time Magazine named Pinterest as one of the 50 Best Websites of 2011.  Harry McCracken, writer for Times Magazine, said, “The basic idea behind Pinterest — which lets you create and share collections of stuff you like in any category you choose — has been tried before by start-ups that didn’t make much of a mark.  This time it might take off.  Pinterest makes the process painless by offering a Pin It button that lets you grab pictures of your favorite things as you browse the Web.  The site then collects the images on “boards” that other users can follow and comment on.  Perusing other folks’ boards, featuring everything from picturesque travel scenes to oddly beautiful bacteria, is as enjoyable as building your own.  Pinterest is still in private testing, but if you request an invite, you should be able to get right in.”

I have sent my request in to join and can’t wait to share things I love with others.  I didn’t find very many things about agriculture, so my goal is to share a piece of that world to others.  Maybe they can gain a better appreciation for agriculture through a simple social media website.

Below are a few things I found during my first search that others love and now so do I.  I am not crafty at all, but these have inspired me to try.

                         

Social Media Deficient

Yesterday might have been one of the longest days I have had in awhile.  We run a 350+ head cattle operation and yesterday was the day to work all the fall calvers, which is about 200 cows, and about half have already calved.  Now if you aren’t familiar with what it means to “work” cattle, let me briefly explain.  Working the cows means getting them all up in a corral and running them all through a chute to give them medicine to prevent internal and external parasites, as well as other vaccines to keep them healthy.  Calves have to be sorted off from cows and the whole process is very long and tiring.  We started when the sun came up and finally finished about 5 in the evening covered in “you know what” and sore from head to toe.  So, what does this have to do with anything?

Well when I got up this morning I found my iPhone and laptop were both dead.  This virtually never happens because I am always using them.  Then I started to realize that I didn’t touch either of these yesterday.  Living out in the middle of nowhere, I rely on the Internet to keep me up-to-date on everything going on locally and around the world.  I can’t believe I spent an entire day with no Facebook, Twitter, Fox News app or blog reading.  I had no idea what my friends did yesterday or if the cattle markets changed any.  I have to admit I am addicted to social media.  I have TweetDeck downloaded on my computer and use the app version on my phone, so I am constantly getting updates.  I wonder if I could survive if I had to go longer than a day without social media.  Could you?

A couple of years ago I would be able to answer yes without any hesitation.  Facebook was just a fun way to stay connected, but today social media has turned into a form of marketing, advertising and promotion we can all use free and easily.  Yes, I still use Facebook to stay connected with friends, but I use all forms of social media to promote my business (beef cattle) and find out what is happening in the world of agriculture.  It’s obvious it didn’t kill me to be deficient in social media for a day, but it might take me a couple of days to catch up on lots of missed reading.

FFA Goes LIVE

As a former FFA advisor, I got really excited when I found out that the 84th Annual National FFA Convention would be streamed live due to Alltech Ag Network’s sponsorship.  The convention is held in Indianapolis, IN. Oct. 19-22.  FFAers from across the country will be traveling by plane, train and big yellow bus for a week of leadership training, fellowship and renowned motivational speakers.

So, why does LIVE STREAMING excite me so much?

  •   The FFA is utilizing social media to share the National FFA Convention experience to more members.  They already have a Facebook page, Twitter account and a new blog.  I have subscribed to all of these and am very impressed with how they use social media to help spread news about agriculture and the largest youth organization in the country.  The convention has been aired by RFD-TV for quite some time, but most classrooms aren’t equipped with satellite TV or at least I know mine wasn’t.  I had to have a parent record the convention for me on DVD so I could share it with students who didn’t get to attend.  Now with live streaming members not able to attend the convention will have the opportunity to watch everything LIVE and experience the fun and excitement as if they were actually there.   I used to teach at a school where we had over 200 FFA members.  Could we take all 200 from Southwest Missouri to Indianapolis (a 10 hour bus ride)?…No!  It was a very competitive process to choose which members would be able to attend.  Many only had the chance once.  We could only take 30 each year.
  • Budget cuts have also been a huge issue in schools.  The school board at the school where I more recently taught voted to only allow our chapter to attend the National FFA Convention every other year.  It was very saddening when students found out that they wouldn’t be able to attend.  But now with the use of live streaming advisors from across the country will be able to lighten the moods a little when they tell their students they can simply log onto the internet and watch it all LIVE.  I also encourage members who get to attend to Tweet their experience with pictures and updates keeping those at home informed.

According to AgWired, iHigh.com expects this to be their largest telecast ever and went on to quote Billy Frey, general manager of the Alltech Ag Network in their recent blog. “Agriculture is taking the lead in communications, moving high tech to engage the world in its story… FFA is now harnessing this power, broadening its reach at a time when our growing population is moving increasingly far away from the stories of the farm and the origins of their food.”

How Pro’s are Doin’ it…Social Media Style

In class Monday night we had the opportunity to hear how Brad Belote, Director of Digital Content, and Lauren Matter, News Anchor for KSPR, use social media to keep viewers coming back for more.

One of the first things out of Brad Belote’s mouth was “stay in the feed.”  That phrase would have put a perplexed look on most faces a couple of years ago, but today we all know “the feed” he was referring to.  We read RSS feeds, Facebook feeds and Twitter feeds daily.  So, it didn’t surprise me when it was the first thing Brad mentioned in his efforts to keep KY3 Inc. social media savvy.

One thing I found very interesting was how, although Brad is the one in charge of all things social media, but he isn’t the only one keeping the news feeds running.  Knowing that anchors from both KY3 and KSPR are posting status updates while on the air and tweeting breaking news from the field is a great tool to keep viewers coming back for more.

The audience is engaged in the news; they feel like they are completely up-to-date.  Viewers don’t have to wait for the 5 or 10 o’clock news to find out what happened during the workday.  They can follow “the feed” throughout the day and get a glimpse of what is happening.  This intrigues them just enough to bring them back to the traditional news in the evening.

Beyond just posting breaking news topics and behind the scenes thoughts, some KY3 Inc. talent are branching out and seeking viewers in a unique manner.  Ethan Forhetz, a KY3 anchor, has created quite a following on Facebook.  Devoted fans check-in each day for his Great Debate, now this isn’t a debate on politics or environmental issues.  Ethan poses tricky questions like:  baked potatoes or French fries, Mary-Ann or Ginger, Daffy Duck or Donald Duck.  This lighthearted interaction lets viewers see the human and personal side of Ethan.  

It’s not just a give, give, give relationship for KY3 Inc. when it comes to social networking.  KSPR news anchor, Lauren Matter, expressed how she has received story ideas from fans on Facebook.  I know the public has always had the opportunity to share news ideas, but I for one would have had no clue how to go about doing it.  E-mail has made it easier, but now viewers can log into Facebook and write to Lauren or other news reporters and share what they see going on in the community. 

Both speakers also expressed how these social networking sites are an added source when it comes to putting a story idea together.  Lauren spoke on how she will search for a contact’s name to see if they would like to be interviewed for a story or to find out more about them.  This is not limited to just people.  The use of social networking sites is increasing for businesses because they are free and easy to use.  At the drop of a hat news reporters like Lauren can view a business profile for contact and other information.

One idea KY3 Inc. is experimenting with is Watch KY3 Live.  This link shows up on the left hand side of their Facebook profile and allows viewers to see what’s going on live in the newsroom.  They have opened their lives to share with viewers how they research story leads and give a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes.

Whether it is “staying in the feed,” gathering story ideas and collecting detailed information or opening up the news room to live streaming, KY3 Inc. seems to be staying on the cutting edge of the new technology social media keeps spitting out at us.  I know I “liked” their page and began following them on Twitter as soon as I got out of class.