By Lauren Chase, Director of Communications – Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association
This morning, I have a special opportunity to advocate for the cattle industry.
I was invited to speak to the Mass Communications class at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. Professor Alligood asked me to discuss job possibilities outside of traditional media, and also, talk about the need for good communicators in the agriculture world. Many students in attendance do not have a background in ag, so I’m thrilled to share my passion with them.
When I studied journalism at the University of Iowa, I had no idea I would spend nearly four years advocating for Montana’s ranchers at the Montana Stockgrowers Association…later to become the Director of Communications for TCA. Being involved in these roles, I have learned a lot about the importance of all cattlemen and women utilizing social media. Here are my top 5 reasons why:
- The cattle business is a business.
The industry is constantly improving and innovating…how we do things may change, but the need for marketing has not. Promoting a farm brand and developing a sound marketing plan goes hand-in-hand with raising the best livestock we can. Each respective social media site, like Facebook and Twitter, has millions of users and many of those are your perspective customers. Advertise your bull sales, show off your herd through uploaded photos, share stories about your family’s involvement in the operation, engage with customers, etc…The ideas are endless. It’s cost-efficient and an easy way for you to market your business.
Sites like Twitter and Pinterest, along with various photo-sharing apps like Instagram, utilize hashtags to spread your content across the networks. Hashtags operate like keyword searches…by adding the pound sign (#) in front of a word, you now make it searchable. For example: I am in the market for a Black Angus bull in Tennessee. I can go to Twitter and in the search box, type: #Angus #bull #Tennessee and hit enter. A list of all tweets with those hashtags in them are displayed and now, I have a list of users across Tennessee tweeting about their Angus bulls. This idea also works for beef and agriculture advocacy, with the ability to reach consumers across the world searching for beef information or agriculture facts.
- Accessible and Connected
These are two reasons why social media is important from a consumer standpoint. Through sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can be instantly connected with your family, friends, acquaintances, customers, industry colleagues, consumers and anyone else across the world. Just as importantly, you can be reached by these people to answer questions about food production, animal care, beef nutrition, etc. You become their go-to farmer/rancher/producer.
- Tech on Deck
We all know that technology plays a big part in the work we do…whether it’s a record-keeping app or texting photos of cattle to a buyer. However, the mainstream consumer may not realize just how modern our work is. If we can show them that we know how to tweet, we then create a common ground with consumers. We are relatable to them and appeal to millennials, who are our future food buyers and public voters. These young people need to be on our side and if we can build relationships with them now, it’ll help for years to come.
- Pretty as a picture
If you have scrolled through your newsfeed on Facebook lately, you’ve notice that it’s full of videos, photos, graphics, and smiley face emojis. The world is all about visuals and boy, do we have some beautiful imagery to share in our business! Tennessee landscape is gorgeous…and coupled with the beauty of life on the farm, we can show the world the beauty that surrounds our lives. The cattle business isn’t always “peaches ‘n cream,” but I know most farmers and ranchers would say that they wouldn’t change their lifestyle for anything. Just remember this: you have a great story to tell and with social media, it’s impact can go farther than ever before!