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HERd management: What we’re up against: How to win the social media battle

Tara Vander Dussen for Progressive Dairyman Published on 18 July 2016

I think we all have that handful of Facebook friends who share everything that has ever been posted about dairy. Health benefits of milk? Share! New research on the positives of GMOs? Share! Cute cow photo? Share! Well I will let you in on a little secret – I am that friend. Yes, that is right. Take a look at my social media pages.

There is a lot of dairy and cow loving going on. And I am going to start sharing even more across all platforms of social media, not just on Facebook. And here is why.

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Several months ago I started a blog, New Mexico Milkmaid, in the wake of Winter Storm Goliath. I needed a place to share my thoughts and explain what was going on in our area. I also wanted to inform our consumers about the facts of dairy farming since there are so many misconceptions out there.

I started off strong with writing lots of blogs, interacting with other bloggers and consumers and, of course, sharing posts. I was on fire with my passion for dairy farming. A couple months in, and it started getting a little old. I was burning myself out really fast. My newsfeed was filled with dairy stuff and not just my posts.

I am friends with a few other producers who are pretty active on social media. And we would all share the same posts. I would end up seeing the same article at least five times. It was a little like having the Dairy Good promotions shoved down your throat. I started to worry that other people were getting annoyed with it all. If I couldn’t handle all this dairy news – and I love dairy – how did other people feel?

Then June Dairy Month rolled around. The first day of the month was National Milk Day. I started that day thinking I’d better write a post or two. By the end of the day, I hadn’t shared anything. And I was feeling a little lazy. So I figured I would just get on Twitter and retweet someone else’s tweet. I looked up #nationalmilkday to find something.

Holy cow! What an eye opener! The first thing was a promoted PETA tweet. (In case you were wondering, this is where they pay money to get their post at the top.) It was a video promoting their anti-dairy agenda. Trying not to get discouraged, I looked through the next several tweets. They were all anti-dairy posts.

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Many of them were misinforming our consumers. None of them had any real facts about dairy farming. It took me some time to find something I could share that was positive. I turned off my computer that night feeling very disheartened and angry that people were lying about this industry I care so much about.

“Disheartened” and “angry” are just two of the words I would use to describe my feelings about some of the posts. I am warning you now – do not start looking at the negative posts on Twitter. It will make you crazy! I wanted to tweet back everyone and give them a piece of my mind.

After I calmed down a little, I had a huge realization. While the PETAs of the world may be few, they are loud. They make their voice heard and they are all over social media. They engage with their followers, post videos and have celebrity guests.

I can’t believe I am saying this, but we could take a lesson from them in this department. More dairy producers need to be out there sharing their stories. People love to hear from us. I was at a wedding recently, and every person wanted to know more about our dairy. They asked tons of questions and were fascinated with our responses.

People are hungry to learn about where their food comes from. It is our job to educate them. And it is important to not make them feel stupid for not knowing the facts. I don’t know every detail of their jobs.

So why would they know everything about dairy? They only know what they are told. And it is important that we are the ones telling them the facts, not the anti-ag activists.

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While we all may know a lot of producers, most Americans are lucky if they know even one person who is involved in agriculture. That means if that one producer doesn’t share about dairy farming, that consumer will never hear our story.

And I can promise you their PETA friend is telling them all sorts of things that aren’t true. With social media, we have this amazing opportunity to reach all sorts of people in all different walks of life.

So I urge you to get out there and tell people your story. If you don’t know what to share, there are lots of great resources. Find a dairy blogger to follow or sign up for the dairy amplification emails or talk to your local dairy promotional team. Support your fellow producers that are sharing about dairy.

Because even though your newsfeed is full of dairy information, chances are the consumers are only seeing the occasional ag post. So as for me, the next time I see my newsfeed filled with dairy, I am going to hit those share, like and comment buttons on every post I see!  PD

Tara Vander Dussen
  • Tara Vander Dussen

  • Dairy Producer
  • Clovis, New Mexico

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