How to friend someone on Facebook (and put them in a list) Facebook 101 – Part 3

When it comes to communicating with multiple friends in one location, it doesn’t get much easier than Facebook.

You can add family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, your church and people you meet at events and conferences. But the problem you’ll run into is that a lot of times you don’t want to communicate with all of them at the same time with the same message.

In this way, Facebook really sucks.  Everyone is lumped together and their algorithm for sorting who my good friends are vs. my occasion friends vs. my co-workers ain’t the best way to determine who’s important in my life.  But there’s a way to fix Facebook so it is really useful to you and your farm or business.

Setting up your “friends” on Facebook requires some thought but you’ll get the most benefit out of Facebook if you use these simple tips on when “friending” people on Facebook.

1. Search for friends on Facebook

facebook-friend-search

Using the search box at the top of your Facebook newsfeed, simple type in their name and click the magnifying glass.

Now if your friend you are looking for doesn’t come up, there are ways to search for people. If you have the email address or phone number, you can also look up people (if they didn’t change their privacy settings).

You can type “People I know.”

facebook-search-people-you-may-know

And use the advanced search that will come up on the side. It looks like this.

facebook-advanced-search

2. Add Friends

facebook-add-friend-from-search

You can add a friend from search by clicking the Add Friend button

Once you find your potential friend, you can request the friend by clicking “Add Friend”. You should then get a message that says “Friend Request Sent.”

facebook-friend-request

Or if you are on their profile page, you can add a friend by clicking this button.

You’ll have to wait until they approve friendship before you’ll be able to see their status updates in your newsfeed, check out their full timeline or see other things that they may have blocked from the public.

3. Put them into a list

This is very important and it will make Facebook a much better communication tool and resource for yourself (now I know you are thinking I have a “Schindler’s List” but I don’t. But ha, ha, it’s very funny. Feel free to put me on a Schindler’s List if you want to.)

After they have approved your Friend Request, simply go to their profile and select the “Friends” button. A drop down menu should appear.

There are many different choices here.

facebook-dropdown-close-friends

If the “friend” is a good friend and you want to keep close tabs on their activity on Facebook, you will want to select “Close Friends”. This will then add “Get Notifications” – you’ll be notified of most of their posting activity (Status Updates and Shares).

If the “friend” isn’t that close, then I recommend putting them in a list that you will create.

These lists will help you keep track of your friends instead of letting just the newsfeed do with with all your “friends”.

facebook-add-to-list

You can add someone to a list simply by clicking the “Add to another list” in the drop down.

facebook-add-a-1-list

With people that are good friends but not a “close friend”, then I would recommend creating an A-1 list. You can see how I added a friend to my A-1 list.

But if you don’t have an A-1 list, you can easily create one.

facebook-create-new-list

Just scroll to the bottom of the list and create a new list.

Or you can use the “FRIENDS” navigation on the left hand side of the page (it should be near the bottom of our newsfeed page left hand side navigation.

facebook-friends-nav-section

Click on “More” next to “FRIENDS” and you’ll be taken to the Friends page. On this page, you can create a list as well and start adding members.

facebook-create-a-list-page

You’ll see I created an A-1 list and then started adding members.

facebook-create-a-list-members

TIP – Now Facebook will still use its algorithm to determine who your friends are in the the custom list newsfeed but at least you’ll have a better chance of seeing your friends in a smaller list.

facebook-add-to-favorites

After you’ve created your custom lists (like the A-1), then you can click on the pencil to the right of the list and add it to your Favorites section to the top of your left hand navigation. This way you don’t have to search for custom lists. BTW, I know this says remove but it’s because my A-1 is already in my Favorites.

facebook-friends-list-newsfeed

If you notice I have an Interests List called (Farmer Pages), an Interest List allows you to add both Pages and Profiles to the same list and follow it. We’ll discuss that more in a future post.

The lists will also show up on your Facebook phone app as well.  To find a list, just pull your newsfeed down (just like you do when you are refreshing the news) and you’ll see the custom lists there.  The more you use the lists, it will remember to keep those lists near the top.

facebook-mobile-app-lists

Next post we’ll go over how to post and what to post on Facebook.

If you have any tricks on using lists in Facebook just let me know and I’ll add them here.

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How Should You Change Your Facebook Security and Privacy Settings? – Facebook 101 Part 2

person-of-interest-facebook

Image courtesy of CBS “Person of Interest” Facebook Pgae

There are plenty of concerns about Facebook privacy – and rightly so, you are probably going to share more information about yourself and your family, friends, coworkers, and your farm, then on any other platform.

I love the show, “Person of Interest” on CBS. It tells the story of a man who’s built a machine that spies on every person in the U.S. looking for terrorists. But after the man turned the machine over to the govt., he is now resolved to try and save the people that the machine predicts are going to die but the govt. doesn’t care about. Loss of privacy is the basis of the show.

With Facebook, you are giving it a lot of privacy if you choose to engage but if you understand a few basics then you shouldn’t have a problem with privacy.

I get asked this a lot but identity theft (as far as I understand it) happens mostly via banks and credit card companies than Facebook – they may find some information on you but all they really want is your username/password to your financials (which usually isn’t found on Facebook).

If you are worried about groups targeting you and your farm, I would also say that I have not heard of a single case of the group using their social media profiles to target physical addresses. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – but what I would say is that if you have a large social media presence you are actually more of a threat to them because you will have so many people come to your (online – defending and promoting) aid if you have a issue on the farm.

First things first.

All the privacy and security settings in the world will not protect you if you say bad things on the internet. In fact, Facebook is one of the worst for keeping these things to yourself.

As my friend Katie Pinke of The Pinke Post  loves to say, “I don’t say anything on the internet that I wouldn’t want my grandmother to see.”

I completely agree with this statement.
Don’t go there.
Don’t argue with people.
Don’t flame others.
Be nice.
Be helpful.
You can voice your opinion about injustice without berating and crucifying others.

Remember you are in front of your audience, their audience and the entire Facebook public. And you can always walk away if it isn’t going well.

Facebook-101-step1-drpodownSo let’s get into the Security and Privacy Settings so change a few things that will help protect your privacy but not completely cut you off from the rest of the world that may benefit quite a bit from hearing your wisdom about farming.

1. Click on the Gear to get to your Settings

2. Select Account Settings

3. Select Username

Facebook-101-step3-select-username

Change the username to something more appropriate than what Facebook gave you – if they gave you a long list of numbers (back in the day they did this).

4. Change Your Primary Email

Facebook gives you an email address like don.schindler (at) Facebook.com. I switch to the email that makes most sense to me.

That should be it for this screen unless you have an email address associated with a university. If so, you can set up one of their networks.

5. Go back to the left navigation and click Security

facebook-101-security-settings

6. Click “Secure Browsing” and make it “Enabled”

This will help protect you when you are using an open network like a coffee shop or airport. It helps keep people from hacking your account.

7. Click “Login Notifications” and make sure you set it to “Email” or “Text/Push Notifications”.

facebook-101-login-notifications

This way you’ll be notified if someone is trying to log into your account from a different browser, phone, tablet, etc…

8. Recognized Devices and Active Sessions

These two areas will help you understand what has logged into your account last and where. If you have any active sessions from areas that you are unfamiliar then you should delete the sessions.

The other areas you can look into and Facebook does a good job of explaining them so I won’t do it here.

9. Click on Privacy

facebook-101-privacy-settings

10. Who can see your future posts?

This should be public. You can always change this on a specific post if you want only a certain list of friends or a specific friend/s or just yourself.

11. Review all your posts and things you’re tagged in.

This will link you to the activity log where you can review everything that you have done on Facebook – all your posts, likes, shares, comments, etc…

12. Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or public?

This feature was developed so people could limit all of their old posts from “friends of friends” and “public” to switch “friends”. In other words, hid their past from anyone that wasn’t already a friend. I don’t recommend this unless you have damaging images and posts out there and you want them all invisible to the public.

13. Who can send you friend requests?

I marked this as everyone because I want to be able to be “friended” even if someone isn’t connected to one of my friends. This will not keep you out of search results – people just won’t be able to friend you if they aren’t a friend of one of your friends.

14. Whose messages do I want filtered into my Inbox?

I would recommend the “basic filtering” which means that most Facebook email messages will get to you.

15. Who can look you up using the email address you provided?

Now I give out my email address a lot for people to connect so I have this marked to public. If you want just “friends of friends” or just “friends” to be ale to do this you can.

TIP: Sometimes young people don’t want to be found by their parents on Facebook – they use an alias – but if you have their email and they haven’t changed this setting, you can find them on Facebook using this tool.

16. Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?

Same answer as the email address.

17. Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?

Now this one is going to be different for me vs. you. I’m open on the internet and I want the search engines to find my information. You might not want that. So if you are worried about Google finding your information, then you might want to uncheck the box.

Next blog post – Timeline and Tagging (Facebook 101 – Part 3) Coming soon.

How do you sign up for Facebook? Facebook 101 Social Media Training

First, what is Facebook and why would you care to use it?

Facebook is the world’s largest social networking website – it connects over 1 billion people (1.26 billion October 2013). In the US, the numbers are smaller but daily active users are at 128 million people or 36.5% of the US.

Facebook makes it easy for you to connect with family and friends as well as your customers. You don’t need to know how to code to put up photos and videos or just tell everyone what you are doing or how you are feeling.

Facebook is another way to be found online as people search for you and your business. Having an active profile (your digital representative online) can keep you connected, feed you the news that you think is important as well as what your friends think is important, and let you learn what others think about farming, agriculture, your business and their food.

There are other great features like joining topic groups, chatting with friends, emailing with customers and playing games or using applications.

So are you ready to set up a profile for yourself?

facebook-sign-up

0. Sign Up Page

You can create an account for free. All you need is your email address and a digital photo or two of yourself. It’s going to take a few minutes to do but it’s really easy.

Step-1-facebook-profile-info

1. Fill Out Info

This is pretty self-explanatory. Facebook would like you to fill in your schooling. Why do they do this? This helps them find people that you may know already.

So if you say you went to school like me at St. Vincent High School from 1984-88 then they will find people in Facebook already that have that on their profile. Same with college or the Armed Forces.

Step-2-facebook-choose-interests

2. Choose Interests

This is how you can begin to build your newsfeed. Now I would recommend skipping this step. Why? Because these Facebook Pages will definitely fill your newsfeed up fast.

I would rather skip this and then go back and add Facebook Pages (after I teach you how to set up Interest Lists for these pages vs. your Newsfeed). So skip it. Or not. Your choice.

Step-3-facebook-add-profile-pic

3. Add Your Profile Pic

I always recommend using your face to start off with. Now there’s no reason you can’t have fun with your profile picture down the road but to start off with it, it should be you and you should be able to be recognizable.

You’ll be able to crop the picture if need be using Facebook’s tool. The size is 180 by 180 pixels but it will shrink up quite a bit in the comment section of the newsfeed – I believe that it will be around 25 by 25.

If you would like to manipulate your photo, there are several free photo tools like picmonkey.com or autreplanete’s social media image maker.

facebook-newsfeed-account

4. The Welcome Screen

This is not what you’ll see when you come back into Facebook. Essentially they are just trying to show you how to find friends, privacy settings (which will we go over in detail in another part of Facebook 101, how to update your profile, etc…

1. Facebook Logo – this will get you back to the newsfeed.

2. Search Box – this will help you find Facebook friends (people), Pages (places or things), Groups (people hanging together on topics) or Events (events you may have signed up for or want to sign up for). This is also a Search Graph which allows you to search for multiple things at once like “People who like” etc…

3. Friend Notification – this will have a number by it if you have Friend Request.

4. Email Notification – this will have a number by it if you have emails waiting that you need to read.

5. Newsfeed Notification – this will have a number by it if you have newsfeed notifications. A newsfeed notification is if you posted something and someone commented on it or if you have tagged people to be notified if they have posted on their wall or if you’ve been tagged in another person’s post. Notification try to keep you aware of activity within Facebook.

6. Home button – same as the Facebook logo on the left side.

7. Find Friends – this is available only in newer profiles. Once you add friends, this will disappear over time.

8. Your Name – This will take you to your profile page.

9. Privacy Shortcuts – this will take you to a quick FAQ drop down of privacy and security issues.

10. Gear – This will drop down will allow you to do several things like change from your profile to a Facebook page (if you control one). You can see how to create and manage advertising on Facebook. This will allow you to create and manage applications (if you have that set up). Then it gets you to your Account and Privacy Settings. We will go through those in detail in another post. You can also Log Out, get Help or Report a Problem.

11. Profile Pic, Name – this will take you to your Profile Page. Edit Profile link will allow you to edit your profile page.

12. Navigation Bar – This navigation will allow you to do many things in Facebook.
This bar will change over time as you start to use different application and products within Facebook.

Under Favorites

Facebook Tip – if you want to add or remove a navigation link under the favorites section – just roll over the link and you’ll see a little pencil pop up to the left. Click on the pencil and it will ask you if you want to remove from Favorites or just Rearrange the Order.

  • Welcome – this link will take you to the page you see here. This will disappear after you’ve been using Facebook for a while.
  • Newsfeed – this link will take you to your main newsfeed where you will see what your friends and liked pages will be posting.
  • Messages – this link will take you to your Facebook email system. There will be a number here of how many messages you have in your inbox.
  • Events – this link will take you to the Events page. It will show if you have any Invites from other Facebook Friends and also display a calendar of Events that you and your Facebook Friends are attending. It will also show you all the upcoming birthdays of your Facebook friends. A number will appear next to the link to showcase the number of invites you need to respond to.
  • Photos – this link will take you to your photo section.
  • Browse – This link will take you to search and allow you to find more friends. Mine took me to a search of friends who are from my hometown and now live near by me in Chicago.

That’s it for now.  In the next post (Part 2), I’ll go through the Privacy and Account Settings.

Did I miss anything? Do you need more explanation about a specific part?

How do you do a digital audit of your website and social media? Part 1: Website

When you sit down to do a digital audit, it’s helpful to have your marketing communications goals and objectives in hand so you can see if your digital properties are laddering up in some ways to your farm or business’ overall goals.

To me, your website is always your digital home on the web (don’t trust social networks like Facebook or Twitter to keep your “home” intact – glitches can completely remove your presence) and is probably the best place to drive your target audience if you want them to take a specific action – in other words, your CALL TO ACTION.  What’s your CALL TO ACTION?

Call To Action

Call To Action on Truth or Dairy’s blog is sign up for email

While a digital audit can help you see what is going on with your digital properties, you need to make sure that your CALL TO ACTION is easy to see and act upon for your target audience.

You need to be clear on your CALL TO ACTION on all your digital properties. This is done visually as you look at your properties whether it be a website, blog, facebook page, or youtube channel.

The web is very fluid and you need to be ready to change what you have.

Always be thinking of building with the future in mind – what is hot right now with Google is Social, Local and Mobile (SO-LO-MO).

In the future according to the experts, instead of the battle over what’s in your hand and in front of your face (computer vs. mobile phone vs. tablet), it will be your voice and what’s in your vision (think Google Glass and screens that respond to voice and motion).

But what you need to worry about now is your digital footprint (digital footprint is the results people get when they search for your farm/business/name in Google or on the social networks)  and how your digital properties are performing.

Let’s start the digital audit:

First, you need to pull together a list of all your digital properties.

Do all the ones you know and then make sure you do a search through Google with your keywords and names to make sure nothing else pops up. You might find things you didn’t know about or that someone else might have created for your farm or business. And it’s always good to have searches running on your farm or business with talkwalker.com alerts (free service).

Once you have that in place, we’ll begin was analyzing your websites and blogs.

Google Analytics

google-analytics-image

You should have some sort of analytics on your websites. I recommend google analytics. If you are using Urchin, you need to switch over. Your web person should know how to put google analytics on your website or you can do it if you can access to the code – depending on the blog system they should have a plug-in for this.

I have three training classes (posts) on Google Analytics:

How Should You Set Up Your Google Analytics Dashboard for Your Farm or Business

How Do You Set Up A Goal in Google Analytics

How to Read Google Analytics

I’m not going to go into the details here but you should have a sense of your traffic, time on site and bounce rates.

The overview can help you here but be aware it’s really not the whole story. What you are looking for here right now is trends.

Are people using our CALL TO ACTION?
Are we going up or down in visits?
How about time on site?
Where are people leaving the website?

Google Webmaster Tools

webmaster-tools-search-queries

You need to have your web person set you up with Google Webmaster Tools – this will help show you things like Search Queries (Google Analytics won’t show this anymore if people are logged into Google when looking at your website), Crawl Errors, how many inbound links to your website and how to optimized your website.

The information you really need here is do I have any errors, what are my search queries keywords and how many inbound links do I have?

webmaster-tools-inbound-links

Also, who is linking to me?

You should benchmark this number and then try and grow it in the future. The more inbound links you have the better you are – but just stay away from black hat link building techniques (don’t buy them and don’t submit to useless directories).

It will also show you where you are ranking on Google search engine research pages for keywords – it other words, how are you showing up?

Xenu

xenu-screenshot

Xenu’s Link Sleuth checks Web sites for broken links.

Link verification is done on “normal” links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. It displays a continuously updated list of URLs which you can sort by different criteria. A report can be produced at any time.

Probably one of the best tools out there for link checking and it’s free!

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer

I use Open Site Explorer to help benchmark the performance of the website.

Copy the metrics on domain authority, page authority, linking root domains, etc…

Much like Google Webmaster tools this will help with showcasing who is linking to you but it will give more information on the sites that are linking to you.

The stronger those sites are, the more power they transfer to your website.

MajesticSEO

majesticseo

MajesticSEO will give you a lot of great information as well much like Opensiteexplorer but you’ll have to login.

Marketing Grader

hubspot-marketing-grader

This is Hubspot’s free marketing grading system and it will give you insights into how the website is performing (0-100 is the grading scale).

The information they provide is pretty self-explanatory.

While they provide some nice insights, be aware they are trying to sell you a product and will probably reach out to you when you use the tool. I do think that Hubspot is awesome but I don’t know how much help they would be for you right now.

SEO Audits are great things

Here’s a great article on how to do this yourself from Philip Petrescu, CEO and Co-Founder of Caphyon, How To Perform a Complete SEO Audit for your website.

This is a very thorough article and I love all the insights and how to fix ideas he has. Definitely worth checking out.

Speed of your Website

google-site-speed

The speed of your website is very important to users and Google. The search engine could downgrade your website if it is not running at a fast enough pace or if a script is slowing it down.

Use the Google Developer Speed tool to benchmark your website. It will also give you a Performance Grade, Load Time and Page Size.

Mobile Friendly

hubspot-mobile-device

Google is not happy with multiple website for mobile and would rather you just have one to meet the needs of mobile users. That’s why going responsive in a redesign is a great idea.

But you need to see how users are seeing your website on their mobile phone so I suggest using Hubspot’s Mobile Device Lab so you can see how your website will render on different devices.  Not everything is represented here.

If it’s hard to navigate, it could cause people to leave the website without doing anything (bounce) and hurt your rankings.

There are probably a bunch of things I’ve missed in the audit (you know like checking different browsers, etc…) so feel free to hit me up with this information.  I’ll add it in if it’s valuable.

Next post will chat about digital audits on your social media presence.

How to set up Twitter for your family farm in 6 simple steps

Now I’ve gone through the five reasons why I think you should be using twitter for your farm business and I promised to show you how to set up a Twitter account in just a few simple steps.

1.  Go to Twitter and create an account.

twitter-sign-up

You don’t have to worry about creating the username just yet.  Just fill in your name, email and password. I would recommend getting some photos and/or logo of your farm for the profile photo section right now.

2.  Choose your username.

twitter-sign-up-page

This name can be changed down the road but it’s a real hassle so choose your name wisely.

If you are doing this as a farm business account, I would suggest using your farm name like I did here with SchindlerFarms (there can be on spaces and I would avoid underscores or dashes.)  If you have to change your twitter handle, you can change it via Twitter.

If you are setting up a Twitter handle for a personal account, I would recommend using your name. It’s tough to build other names or brands that would represent you and in the long run, most anonymous accounts will be forced to be more transparent. You don’t have to do this, it’s just a recommendation.

Then click Create My Account.

Your account is now live and twitter is showing you a sample tweet from The Twitter Teacher.

twitter-preview-page

3. Twitter will prompt you to start following other Twitterers.

twitter-timeline-following

These will most likely be people who are popular celebrities or entertainment brands who have paid to be here.  You are more than welcome to follow them if you wish. You would do this by clicking Follow next to their names.  The blue checkmarks mean that these accounts have been verified by Twitter to be real.  Not everyone on Twitter is verified.

I would suggest skipping this and using the search box to find people you want to follow.

For instance, I put in the term “dairygood” into the search field and got back a few people.

twitter-search-following

As you can see, there is Dairy Good, me and Mollie Wallers (chief communications officer for Dairy Management Inc.).

Of course, they would like you to follow more (when you click Next) so I put “dairy farmer” in the search box and up comes some more people to follow.

twitter-following-more

As you follow more people, they get added to your timeline in the center of the screen. You will see everything they tweet (this isn’t like Facebook where the algorithm decides who you see).

If you are looking for dairy farmers to follow, I recommend @rayprock, @_sdmaddox@dairycarrie, @gilmerdairy, @ezweber, @zweberfarms@nyfarmer and @TrentBown. There are many, many more and you can follow my whole list of farmers is getting big out there on twitter.

When you start following people, you need to use the Twitter Lists function to help divide people into separate listening streams.  I will do a follow up posts on using Lists and other tips and tricks to make the most use of Twitter.

Click the Next button to most pass the search and follow feature.

4.  Twitter will want you to connect your email to find them on . I don’t recommend this.

twitter-contact-email

There’s a small light “Skip” link in the bottom left. I would click that and move along.

5.  Add your profile pic and your biography information.

twitter-profile-upload-bio-text

Now this is very important because this is one of the ways people will find you.  The image will help people see who you are.  I recommend a farm shot or your logo – make sure the logo is already in a square image.  I matched the profile pic to my profile pic on Facebook for branding.

UPDATE NOTE: Tim Zweber of @zweberfarms recommends using people profile for farm photos and I agree.  People like socializing on Twitter with people.  Put a face on your farm.

You also have room to put in your biography text of 160 characters.  I put in the name and basic keywords if people would be looking for a farm in southeast Missouri.  I would recommend putting in your websites and other social links.

You can also hashtag things here as well if you want Twitter to pull in your profile into hashtag searches.  I didn’t do that here but you can.

If this is a personal Twitter account, I recommend using “Views are my own.” to help protect yourself from issues with FTC and advertising.  It helps people understand that you are not intentionally tweeting information that could be misconstrued as advertising for your business or farm.

All your employees, especially if they share information over Twitter about your business, should have that on their profiles.  They should also mention that they work for you like my profile example.

“SVP, Digital Initiatives at #Dairy Management, Inc. I work for farmers! http://dairygood.org  http://donschindler.com  #dairygood Opinions are my own. :)”

6.  According to Twitter, you are all done.  But not me. Let’s make sure our Profile looks nice and add some more information.

twitter-timeline-finish

Let’s click on the “Make Your Profile Beautiful” or if you closed it, just click on the little gear icon on the top right by the search bar and go to Settings.

Once on Settings, click Profile.

Here you can add a header photo, your location, and your website again.

Do NOT click Facebook Connect.  You don’t want your tweets automatically going to Facebook.   If you want to control both profiles from one application, I recommend Hootsuite and you can set that up using this my post, Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Hootsuite For Your Farm.

Now I know I didn’t get into how to communicate on Twitter, that will be a post coming up along with the tips and tricks.

Did I miss any steps that you would add for the initial set-up?

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Twitter For Your Farm (And 5 Reasons Why Twitter is Bad)

When I was still at the agency, I used to tell people that I thought Twitter would go away. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t think the format Twitter made would go away, I just didn’t think Twitter as a company would survive. I was wrong about that but let’s see how they do after the IPO.

But I still love how Twitter works.  In fact, it’s probably one of the best ways to be involved in the digital space today. Many, many leaders (real leaders, not fake internet famous leaders) are using twitter to reach out to their constituents and listen to the online conversations about their brands.  If you want to make a difference in a company, reach out using twitter and you’ll see they are listening.

So why are real business leaders, politicians and other farmers like you using Twitter?  Here are five reasons why they are and why I think you should be using Twitter for your farm.

1. Fastest, easiest and cheapest way to meet your consumers, their food influencers (like reporters, nutritionists and foodies) and tons of other people.

farmer-twitter-list

I put the farmers I meet in twitter on a list I follow

To give you an example, I’ve not been in the dairy industry long but by using Twitter, I’ve been able to start following influential dairy people. The tweets they post, the conversations they have with people, the news they pass along – gets me up to date quickly on what matters to them and how the industry functions.  Without it, it would probably take several years and many meetings to learn the industry.

For a local farm profile, I would follow the people that are most likely going to influence the audience that I want to influence. So locally, it would be your local news reporters (fastest way to get to a reporter is through twitter), your local politicians, your local farm bureaus and, of course, the local foodies.

How do you find out who they are? You follow a few, see who they are talking to the most, and you follow them. You can also use great free tools like followerwonk.com (where you can search people’s bios) and twiangulate.com (where you could search multiple people’s followers and see who follows both of them like a local news personality and local foodie – those followers could be a good audience to connect with).

2. The power of instant conversations – Join in and contribute or sit on the sidelines, it’s your choice.

Early Bird via Sheila Sund

Early Bird via Sheila Sund

Today, it does seem the early bird gets the worm. But there are many, many opportunities within the twittersphere to engage in conversations that are occurring all over the world. Some conversations are set in advance and may be using a “hashtag” (simple way to organize a topic on twitter by using hashtag with the word – if you’ve never joined #agchat on Tuesday nights at 8 pm eastern, I would recommend it.)

But there are also consumer conversations that are always ongoing that are hash tagged as well and after you get some experience with the twitter language then I would recommend joining them as well. You can get some great consumer insights into how they perceive the industry and what terms are good for them and which aren’t.

Conversations in Twitter are all open (unless you have a protected account or you are direct messaging or DM’ing someone) and people understand that by talking out on twitter you are inviting anyone to join in. This is very different than other social networks.

3. News spreads quickly – your tweet may too.

Twitter Trendmap

Twitter Trendmap of Chicago area

I’ve been told a quote that “if it doesn’t happen on twitter, it’s not news” and we can see with reporters using twitter more and more, the news does seem to be on twitter first. In fact, tweets about an earthquake in the U.S. hit Toronto faster than the shockwaves.

If reporters and influentials are using twitter extensively then it goes to say that if you use twitter to pass along news, then it might be picked up by the local reporters in your area – and if it’s really big news or it’s intriguing to a national reporter, it might go nationally very quick. You can see what is trending on Twitter via maps by using Trendmaps.com.

The good thing to understand is that news travels fast (really, really fast in twitter) so it’s important to understand your words matter when a tweet spreads. Choose them carefully and under 120 characters so people can retweet it without having to edit them.

4. Professional Development – learn from experts and become one yourself

Will Gilmer Twitter posts

Dairy Farmer Will Gilmer tweeting about a meeting

There are some amazing people out on twitter that just hand over great information on how to do things for free. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to build a following – help people out by giving up your knowledge on what you know how to do. It kinda flies in the face of making yourself irreplaceable at your company. But that was the old way of doing things. You basically make yourself irreplaceable by giving out your knowledge and making yourself an influencer of others.

Dairy Farmer Ray Prock talks about National Partnerships

Dairy Farmer Ray Prock talks about National Partnerships

When it comes to a farm profile, giving up information on how you farm, how the cows are, how the feed is, what you are doing and how you are doing it, builds trust with consumers and helps out younger farmers – so they can follow your example and learn from you. It’s ok to talk shop out in twitter and people want you to so they get a better understanding of how farming has changed over the years. I wouldn’t look at it as “education” but more of “insights” or “inside information” on how you farm.  I believe that Will Gilmer and Ray Prock are great examples but there are many more out there doing a great job and I’ll highlight on future posts.

5. You can follow and possibly speak with people that wouldn’t normally be in your circle of influence

redhead-creamery

Redhead Creamery raised over $40K for their farm using kickstarter campaign – many donors had nothing to do with farming.

You don’t have to only follow people you like – you can see what the competition is talking about. What are they planning? What interests them? You don’t have to “follow” them to see their conversations. You can simply add them to a “private” list and view their information there.

You can even join their conversations. You may not be able to change their minds – and definitely don’t enter a conversation to start an argument or fight (that’s no way to influence others) – but at least you’ll be able to read their thinking and understand who influences them.

Would you like to set up Twitter for your farm? Check out my blog post on How To Set Up Twitter For Your Family Farm in 6 Simple Steps.

Of course, there are many cons to this platform. But I believe the benefits of joining twitter far outweigh the cons.  These are the five reasons why Twitter is bad and it makes the platform hard to use, especially for beginners.

1.Lots and lots of noise, spam and robot collection devices.

When you enter the world’s largest cocktail party, there’s going to be a lot of stuff you really, really don’t care about. The benefits of using “twitter lists” can help keep this noise to a manageable amount. If you are not using lists, I really don’t know how it is going to work for you unless you keep your following count really low.

There’s also going to be spam in the internet and Twitter is no different than other platforms. The main thing is never ever click a link that you are unsure of the source. It will happen and you’ll get burned and send out the diet pills links, a bad video or possibly a virus (it happens to all of us). When it does, change your password and then go delete the last application that was added to your profile. That should take care of it.

2. Twitter.com is does not have a very user friendly interface.

I don’t recommend using twitter.com for your web or phone application (it is better on the phone). I will walk you through Hootsuite, it’s free and better for your overall digital presence online. You can control more than one social network through it and still have great conversations.

3. Search is getting worse – harder to find the right conversations to be in.

As more and more people join, the search feature is more difficult to use and find what you are looking for – whether than be people, brands, conversations, etc… There are several free tools like followerwonk.com, socialmention.com, mention.com, and more to do this. I even use Google more to find people’s profiles vs. search.twitter.com

4. Relationships are fleeting – remember this is twitter and social media.

These people are not going to come out and join your parade on day one but they might be friendly to you and that’s a start. It’s a great way to discover, intro, and help maintain new relationships with people but if someone unfollows you, don’t take offense. Just move on and help someone else. Maybe they’ll introduce to more people than the last person.

5. It takes time.

Nothing happens overnight when it comes to twitter unless you are a celebrity to start with. You have to pay your dues, meet people, have a lot of conversations and build up your brand. There are plenty of tools to make it easier to talk but nothing is as effective as smart, thoughtful, positive tweets about why you love what you do and why you continue to do it.

Remember most people using twitter aren’t in agriculture – you aren’t there to educate them but to give them insights into your farming lifestyle. I’ll have a blog post up soon about how to set up twitter and what you should be tweeting.

That’s it for my list. What are your five favorite reasons for using Twitter to talk about your farm?  You can always hit me up at @donschindler

Would you like to set up Twitter for your farm? Check out my blog post on How To Set Up Twitter For Your Family Farm in 6 Simple Steps.

What’s a marketing mechanic?

don-schindler-working-on-harley

Putting 14-inch ape hangers on my bike, Rosemary.

I was raised in a home full of mechanics.

My grandfather, Les, was a tractor mechanic for Massey-Ferguson for 20+ years as well as a full time farmer.

I used to think we were rich (quite the opposite in fact) when I was little because we had so many tractors, combines, cars and machinery on the farm.

Little did I know that grandpa actually had a standing offer on every broken down machine that came into the dealership – $15. It didn’t matter if it ran or not, grandpa knew it had parts on it that he could use. The farm machinery graveyard right behind grandpa’s house was my playground.

My dad and two uncles were also mechanics and there was a Schindler Auto Body shop on the farm as well.

In kindergarten, I knew the difference between a 9/16 socket, 5/8 wrench and a pair of vice grips. I drained oil and aired tires.  I sanded fenders. I sorted and matched leftover nuts and bolts. Every day I swept the shop to earn a Dr. Pepper bottle from the frig.

I also learned that mechanics fix things. That’s how you measure their value.

So to me, a marketing mechanic is different than a consultant.

Consultants can help you figure out the problem. Consultants can give you advice.

But if you want the problem really fixed, the consultant will tell you what mechanic to call but they aren’t going to get their hands dirty. They need to go consult on another job.

So you end up calling the mechanic and he comes out. He sometimes verifies that what the consultant said was correct (sometimes the consultants don’t get it right) and then fixes it. Right there, right then.

You thank him for his time and then you hold on to his number.  Why, because you’ll call him first next time – what do you need a consultant for.

Everyone knows that it’s hard to find a good mechanic. When people find one, they are loyal to that mechanic. It’s easy to find a consultant.

So you can call me a marketing consultant if you want to because the industry doesn’t use a term like marketing mechanic. But I’m more than just a consultant.

I ran across this post on five skills every auto mechanic should have.  I think it works brilliantly on why I would prefer to be called a marketing mechanic than consultant.

1. Diagnostic Abilities:
Mechanics understand that they need to pinpoint where the problem is. They don’t replace the entire engine – they use the right diagnostic tools to analyze the engine and replace only the part that is broken. Much like that, I’m not going to come in and have you replace all of your communications if just your email marketing is broken. Good mechanics diagnose quickly and get you back on the road to success.

2. An array of integrated skills
Here they talk about understanding the entire car such as the electrical system, fuel system and the air conditioning system. Same here with a marketing mechanic. You need to be able to understand how the marketing communications system is working internally (like the social media team process and the direct mail system process – how are they connected). But you also need to be able to see the entire organization’s culture – how is marketing communications integrating with operations? If the systems are broken, the tactics will fail.

3. The Ability to Stay Prepared
I love how they say “the days of the uneducated grease monkey are over.” How true this is with marketing communications today. The entire world of communications has been transformed by digital and social media. You need someone who is staying on top of the latest technologies and how they can help or hurt your current marketing efforts. Just read my blog and you’ll see what I’m currently looking into and working on.

4. The Ability to Teach Others
I was stunned when I read this because it’s exactly how I feel about mechanics – I just didn’t think that mechanics actually acknowledge that they need to excellent teachers. And good mechanics are great teachers. Great mechanics show others what they learned and why it’s important. I teach and train others all the time on marketing communications and you need someone who is not only going to fix the problem but also show you how they fixed it so you don’t make the same mistake in the future.

5. Career Longevity
I’m a career marketer – granted I didn’t go to school to be a marketer in the traditional fashion (I have an English degree not a marketing degree) but I’ve been fascinated by marketing and communications, reading and writing, creating content for as long as I can remember. This lifelong passion benefits you because I’ve had my fill of mistakes and I can show you exactly how I wouldn’t make them again (I loved Flash early in my career – ouch).

So if you are interested in learning more from a marketing mechanic, then give me a call or email.  But if you are interested in having a consultant tell you to call me to fix it, well I’m sure that can be arranged as well.

What do you think about the differences between a marketing mechanic and a marketing consultant?