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From 'pink slime' to 'Pinteresting' online moms: The power of social media

Emily Meredith, Animal Agriculture Alliance Published on 18 March 2013

For generations, hard-working mothers have been committed to making smart food choices for their families. Fifty years ago, those choices were made after consultations with the family doctor, age-old “wives tales” and advice from grandmothers or great-grandmothers.

Today, we live in a very different world. Modern mothers are booting up their laptops and typing questions into search engines like Google and Bing. Those search engines are churning out results – in the forms of blogs from other seasoned mothers.

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Moms today are inundated by the overwhelming amount of information available, and as a result, they are putting their trust into blogs written by their peers – other mothers – rather than physicians, medical websites or even the government, according to a recent study conducted by Fleishman-Hillard and TheMotherhood.com.

I’m sure we all remember a year ago when Diane Sawyer on ABC's evening news called the lean, finely textured beef made by Beef Products Inc. in South Dakota "pink slime." Since then, the company's annuals sales of $650 million have dropped to $130 million, according to a Reuters report.

There was no suggestion in the ABC report that BPI was doing anything illicit or illegal, or that the product was unsafe. But it didn’t matter.

Why? Because we no longer live in a world where news broadcasts are over half an hour after they start. Instead, we live in a world where anyone – and I mean anyone – can be a journalist using social media.

We live in a world where any, no matter how miniscule, piece of news can live on forever on the World Wide Web and through social media.

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Within minutes of coming out of Diane Sawyer’s mouth, the phrase “pink slime” was broadcast on millions of Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, discussed on countless blogs.

It doesn’t matter if it’s accurate. It doesn’t matter if it’s true.

And it doesn’t even matter if BPI is suing ABC and its parent company, Walt Disney, for $1.2 billion – because the damage is done, and it was done the minute that those words came out of Ms. Sawyer’s mouth.

I often find it hard to impress upon people just how important social media is and how crucial it is to get connected, stay connected and make “going social” part of your daily life.

I find that statistics sometime work best to convey these messages, so here goes (statistics courtesy of Socialnomics).

Social media is the number one activity on the Web – so much so, that over the next few years people will stop searching for answers using search engines and rely solely on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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Generations Y and Z already consider email to be passé – and a number of colleges and universities have stopped giving out student email accounts to incoming freshman. Want to send your college student a message? Better make it 140 characters or less so it can fit in a tweet!

Word of mouth is a thing of the past – now it’s world of mouth. Consumers trust peer recommendations, which is why sites like Yelp and others exist. Do you like what people are saying about your brand? You better.

Today, 93 percent of marketers use social media over other traditional marketing methods, like commercials.

Social media is so popular that 2 percent of children under the age of 2 have a digital shadow (the trail of publicly available data and information that we leave behind as we conduct our day-to-day lives). Two percent!

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, especially if you are looking to speak to female consumers.

That’s why Pinterest boasted 104 million total visits so far in March and is now the third most popular social media platform behind Twitter and Facebook. Women are almost completely responsible for Pinterest’s success – 97 percent of the site’s users are women.

So why does this matter? Well, for starters, social media isn’t a revolution anymore – it’s here to stay.

It’s not about learning how to use social media any more; it’s about learning how to use it efficiently. (Need some help? The Animal Agriculture Alliance has a Social Media Guide available here.)

Get on Facebook, send a tweet (trust me, it’s not as scary as it sounds), and get Pinteresting! Besides being a hugely successful way to market yourself, your family farm and your overall brand, it’s also fun (just trust me).

More than that, however, social media offers a great way to keep abreast of what real, live people are thinking – your consumers. Social media allows all of us to befriend complete strangers online and see who else they’re following and what they’re talking about.

Social media also helps to identify what activist groups are talking about and focusing on, and it’s important to note that they always promote their latest undercover video using social media platforms.

Lastly, social media – and Pinterest in particular – offer great ways to connect to the online moms that are literally hungry for information about where their food comes from. These online moms are blogging, joining discussion groups and chat rooms all online and communicating with other moms about what foods are safe, healthy and the best buy.

So the next time you want to communicate the benefits of dairy, try to identify key blogs and join Pinterest!

Take a page from @DairyCarrie, or Carrie Mess, who shared an “undercover video” of her own dairy farm on Twitter to rave reviews and tons of retweets. Just get social! PD

If you want to learn even more about how to connect with online moms, don’t miss the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 12th annual Stakeholders Summit, May 1-2, 2013, in Arlington, Virginia. The summit will feature a panel titled: “Demystifying the Blogosphere: How to Connect with Online Moms” and will feature two prominent online mom bloggers who will share tips and tricks with you. Don’t miss out – register today!

Related resources:
• Follow Animal Agriculture Alliance on social media at the following links:
-Facebook
-Twitter
-Pinterest
-YouTube

• Follow Progressive Dairyman on social media at the following links:
-Facebook
-Twitter
-Pinterest
-YouTube

00_meridith_emily

Emily Metz Meredith
Communications Director
Animal Agriculture Alliance

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