Six Reasons Social Media will Help your Cattle Operation

Lauren Chase

Follow Lauren on Twitter @LaurenMSea or contact her at lauren.chase4@gmail.com

By Lauren Chase

My grandfather was a corn farmer and raised cattle in Iowa for the majority of his life. Now that he is retired, he and his fellow farming buddies head to the local coffee shop at least once a week to brag about grandkids and analyze what’s happening in society. While this type of gathering is still useful and enjoyable, the younger generations are finding other ways to communicate with each other and to market their cattle.

As the beef industry continues to innovate, so do the ways of doing business. Social media has changed how every company markets and brands themselves, as well as public figures, artists and athletes. In our business, it should be no different.

Here are a few ways that social media will help your cattle operation:

1 – Peer Recommendation

If our friend has it, we have to have it too, right? In most cases, the answer is “yes”. What social media has created is a space for your friends, family and acquaintances to share how they feel about all sorts of things even if they enjoyed your bull sale. If a rancher down the road posts on Facebook that he bought a good bull from XYZ Ranch, I’m more inclined to check out the bulls at that ranch because I trust my friend’s opinion. And thus begins the word-of-mouth, free advertisement for XYZ Ranch.

2- Beef Business Online

International Brangus Breeders AssociationToday, there are so many ways for a person to contact another person. If I want to reach a friend, I could call, text, tweet, Facebook message, email, instant message, SnapChat, Instagram them, etc. As chaotic as this sounds, the upcoming generations of beef producers will conduct business through a variety of these forms, and because social media allows for instant contact and an easy way to share visuals, it becomes another way to conduct business.

Are you trying to get people to your bull sale? Post photos of the bulls on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Potential buyers are out there and could message you for more details. Are you trying to make people aware of a legislative issue affecting cattle producers? Post the link to your sites and spread the word. Are you trying to communicate with members in a committee? Develop a group forum on Facebook to keep everyone up to date.

3- Telling the Beef Story

Not only can social media be used to do business, but it is a great way to reach networks of people outside of the beef industry and teach them about agriculture. You become a spokesperson and a face for beef, essentially “humanizing” the industry and making it relatable to the consumer.

Also, the photo of the bull you posted may be geared towards buyers, but it could also catch the eye of your wife’s cousin in New York City who doesn’t know how his steak is produced. Maybe the photo makes him think: “Hmm, I wonder why the bulls are sold like that,” and then messages you to learn more about your sale. Advocacy is a collective effort and the more we can reinforce the beef lifestyle through imagery and social media, the better we can tell the beef story.

4 – Other Advantages

Social media is free and it is relatively easy to produce content. If you have a smartphone, you’re golden. Cross-promotion of content on major social media sites is also easy and will only increase your marketing.

5 – Tips

Carefully consider your content and be ready to engage in conversation if people comment. Reciprocity is key — when you go from being a “talking head” to allowing your customers to have a voice, your interaction will greatly increase.

Watch trends and be willing to try new things. Hashtags are huge on Twitter and have become more frequent on Instagram and Facebook. For those who don’t know, hashtags are like “key words” and can help you engage in the conservations you want to be in. For example: #ranchlife #beef #Texas

6 – @GoBrangus

GoBrangus (gobrangus) on TwitterThe IBBA has done a terrific job of establishing itself on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. As a Brangus producer, utilize the services they have provided for you. For example: If you are out checking cows and snap a photo of a new calf, tweet it and include a mention to the IBBA (@gobrangus). Most likely, you will be retweeted by them. What does all of this mean? Not only will your photo go out to your followers, but once it’s retweeted, it will go out to all of IBBA’s followers. People who follow IBBA on Twitter, most likely have some interest in Brangus cattle. One of those followers could be a potential buyer for you. It’s a win-win!

Understanding these trends and new marketing techniques is essential for the beef industry in the upcoming decades. Even though our businesses may look different than how our grandparents ran it, we all still share the same passion for the beef industry and want our operations to be successful for our own grandchildren!

About the Author:
Lauren Chase graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in journalism and anthropology. She now works as the multimedia outreach specialist for the Montana Stockgrowers Association, working to tell the story of Montana family ranching.

Lauren can be contacted by email at lauren.chase4@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurenMSea 

Junior Spotlight- Emily Jackson

IBBA features Emily Jackson in the Junior Spotlight. From Waco, Texas, Emily is the reigning Miss International Junior Brangus Association Queen and is actively involved in the IJBBA. Emily has a strong passion for the agriculture industry. She is currently a junior at Texas Tech University and wishes to be a lobbyist or an advocate for the agriculture industry, disproving false claims made by organizations with an anti-meat agenda. Watch the video to see how the IJBBA has made an impact on Emily’s life.

Find more videos on our website at http://gobrangus.com/videofeed/

Southern Accent Farm Receives Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award

Tallahassee, FL– Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam recognized Allen and Nicki Smith, owners and operators of Southern Accent Farm of Okeechobee, Fla., as the recipients of the 2012 Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award. Sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the award recognizes agricultural enterprises that demonstrate leadership in developing and implementing innovated and progressive techniques to safeguard the environment and conserve natural resources.

“Agriculture is not your stereotypical Norman Rockwell painting,” said Commissioner Putnam. “These operations are just two examples of how the industry is using high-tech solutions and innovation to maintain its position as one of the state’s strongest economic pillars, but also ensure that the natural resources Florida is known for are available for generations to come.”

Southern Accent Farm is a purebred Brangus and commercial cattle operation, which utilizes a full suite of water quality best management practices, allowing the farm to harness the natural pressure of an artesian well to supply a series of water troughs to their pastures. The ranch is also home to the largest commercial solar array in the glades Electric Coops territory, producing enough electricity for the operations of the 824-acre ranch.

Commissioner Putnam recognized Southern Accent Farm as well as Deroose Plants, Inc., with the awards at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Annual Meeting October 24-26, 2012, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Thanks to the Florida Department of Agriculture for recognizing the Smiths and for providing the media content. For more information about the Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award, visit www.florida-agriculture.com/business/awards/agenviron/.

Visit www.GoBrangus.com to learn more about the benefits of Brangus genetics.

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Successful Brangus Producer Knows What Customers Want

By Brittni Drennan, IBBA Communications Coordinator

Don and Sherry Atkinson

Anyone who is an expert in marketing will tell you the key to a successful marketing plan is to know your audience. When you know who your audience is, you can better serve them and market a product that fits their needs. Don Atkinson may not claim to be an expert in marketing, but he knows exactly who his customers are and what kind of product will fit the needs of their operation.

“I want my customers to be successful in their endeavors,” Atkinson said. “I know my product and offer customers one type of cow that can thrive in their environment.”

A fourth generation cattleman, Atkinson knew at an early age what his calling was in life. Running cattle has always been a staple and a way of life in his family. Atkinson partnered with his father until his passing in 2001, and Atkinson took full ownership of the business and began ranching full time. His ultimate goal is to be remembered for creating a mother cow that thrives in her environment and maintains longevity.

Together, Atkinson and his wife of almost five years, Sherry, run 240 commercial Brangus cows and some registered Brangus cattle in Mullins, S.C. Atkinson switched to breeding Brangus when he bought his first bull in 1990 from Graham DuBose and John Spitzer. After breeding his commercial herd to the Brangus bull, he realized the advantages Brangus genetics had to offer, especially for the environment he was surrounded by near the east coast.

“People need to take advantage of crossbreeding to take advantage of all the opportunities hybrid vigor provides,” Atkinson said. “Crossbreeding allows producers to incorporate all the benefits of improved weaning weights, milk, [intramuscular fat] IMF and others.”

Shortly after buying his first bull and being pleased with his results, Atkinson went to Cow Creek’s Brangus sale in Mocksville, N.C., where he was introduced to Joe Reznicek’s breeding program. Atkinson has now been using genetics from Cow Creek for the last 21 years by utilizing artificial insemination (AI) techniques.

In 2010, Atkinson began breeding his Brangus cows to a registered Angus bull to create Ultrablack calves, following Reznicek’s model. According to Atkinson, his customers in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama want purebred Brangus to perform better in a harsher climate. However, Ultrablack cattle enable him to market his Brangus genetics to his customers farther north of the Gulf Coast states.

2012 Weaned Heifer Crop

“If I’m selling to a breeder in Florida, they need to be Brangus to withstand the heat and humidity,” Atkinson said. “Here, not as many people take advantage of the heat tolerance that Brangus provide. They want Ultrablack bulls with a little less percentage Brahman blood. Registered Ultrablacks allow us to introduce Brangus genetics to those who are skeptical.”

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