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Social media brings World Dairy Expo enthusiasts together

Jennifer Bradley Published on 19 September 2012

“Cows” is the common language spoken every year at World Dairy Expo, says the show’s marketing manager, Liz Matzke. Whether in the show ring, on the commercial exhibit floor or online at the expo’s website or Facebook page, “cow” is the talk.

The more than 10,300 World Dairy Expo Facebook fans, nearly 300 Pinterest enthusiasts and 1,700 followers on Twitter can attest to the language of Expo because they all speak it, now even more so with the annual show approaching in a few short weeks.

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“People are making their lists and building excitement,” says Matzke. “We see how people are really thinking of World Dairy Expo at the top of their mind, because they chose that moment to Tweet about it, and that’s pretty special.”

She says the 10-person staff thinks about the week-long expo all year, and building the social media presence has been a great measure to see just how excited the rest of the expo’s community is.

Expo’s largest social media attraction is its Facebook page. Just ask Caylei Arnold of Hartford, Connecticut. She recently won the 10K Ultimate Fan Giveaway Facebook contest, the prize of which includes lodging, dining, season passes, gift cards and preferred seating for the Supreme Champion Ceremony at this year’s expo.

“The fans have become much more involved in the happenings of expo through the Facebook page and other social media accounts,” Arnold says. “It’s made the event interactive for people all over the world!”

She’s never been to World Dairy Expo and says it’s one of the things on her “bucket list.” She adds that when the contest was posted online, it was just too easy of a question (What’s the world’s greatest dairy show?) not to answer and take a chance. The last thing she expected was to win, but she can’t wait to watch the breed shows live and explore the exhibit floor.

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Another Facebook favorite is Fact Check Fridays, in which expo staff post trivia questions and give away prizes, including show passes, ice cream coupons, T-shirts, etc. Matzke says sometimes the staff surprises themselves with what they learn by investigating the trivia answers and finding out a new fact about the expo.

“We want people to feel like they can be a part of World Dairy Expo all year long,” she says of these online efforts. The show’s success, she adds, is due to the exhibitors, dairy farmers, international and U.S. presence – and also the more than 500 volunteers. Social media helps all of these groups feel like they are a part of the expo and that it’s their show too, adds Matzke.

On Twitter right now there are especially a lot of countdowns being done for the much-anticipated opening day. Or, Matzke adds, people will tweet about who they are coming to expo with, and many of the judging participants are commenting on making their collegiate teams or wining a state contest.

Expo’s Purple Cow Gift Shop even has its own Facebook page and gives show enthusiasts an inside look at the event’s themed T-shirts and other memorabilia available for attendees.

Speaking of memorabilia, Facebook fans have come to look forward to the online auction which happens each year after the show is finished. Many of the event’s banners and other decorations are theme-related and tied with special artwork from that year. Once a new theme is debuted, the staff no longer has a use for the past year’s items.

She says Facebook auctions have allowed fans a place to buy this memorabilia and own a part of the expo’s history, especially those items from the showring, which are most popular. “There’s some really great stories associated with where these things end up,” she adds, explaining that people keep them in their homes or barns.

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This is another way of reaching the goal of making people feel passionate about the expo all year long. “Expo and the dairy industry as a whole are filled with people we know,” she says. “It’s really great that people can be proud of World Dairy Expo and feel a part of it.”

Pinterest has become a recent favorite portion of the staff’s jobs in regard to social media. It allows the show to reach a broader demographic. “We just get to talk about cows in general and everything related to cows, whether that’s grilled cheese sandwiches or baby cow items or the showring itself at World Dairy Expo,” she adds.

The staff has divided its “pins” into several categories, including Expo themes, Memories in the Barns, Cows are Awesome, Agriculture Infographics and more.

If an online social presence isn’t what someone is looking for, the show’s website offers a more serious side to the show but one just as popular. One can search the tradeshow by product type, category and other topics, as well as use the interactive map to see exactly where exhibitors are located.

Hovering over the exhibitor’s place on the map brings up links to that company’s or association’s personal online links, including website, Facebook, etc.

“This feature is something 100 percent unique to World Dairy Expo,” says Matzke. “No other show in the world has it.”

The other big “event” on the expo’s website is the live streaming of the cattle shows. World Dairy Expo hires a professional video crew to produce a high-quality broadcast, with defining shots and a variety of camera angles that allows viewers to feel like they are at the Coliseum themselves.

Then, after a class presents, a highlight reel is posted online within 10 minutes, another feature truly unique to the show. Matzke says she receives much feedback that these videos are appreciated by those family members and friends who couldn’t attend and may have had to stay home to milk cows, she jokes.

“We see people get excited and, as a staff, we’re also really excited,” she says. The personal countdown clocks are on and so are the online ones. Up until Expo, during and after, fans will be speaking the “language of cows.” PD

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