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 

2012 Beef Tips Blog in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

First Generation Producers: A Success Story

Photos and Story by Brittni Drennan
IBBA Communications Coordinator

If you have picked up the latest Jan/Feb issue of IBBA’s FRONTLINE Beef Producer, then you have seen the Jasik family featured on the cover of the publication. Just a few short years ago, this father and son partnership established “Jasik Hay Farms”, now a successful, family-owned commercial cattle operation. They breed their commercial cows to Brangus bulls and market Brangus Gold commercial replacement females. A first-generation farm, this young family has a refreshing perspective on the cattle industry.

Jasik Family The Jasik’s Story
There are a few producers in our demanding, competitive industry who inspire all of us to work harder, be more optimistic, and strive daily to achieve our goals while building integrity instead of just a product. These hardworking cattlemen were building fence with their fathers before they were old enough to go to school and driving tractors well before they had their license. They are those kind of producers whom you hold a high respect for. Meet the Jasik family.

Dustin grew up in the little quiet town of Pleasanton, Texas, where he learned all about the cattle business from his dad, Larry. Dustin worked alongside his dad and followed his every step. Everything Dustin knows about feeding cows, herd management, buying bulls and even fixing fence, he learned from his dad.

“My dad is my biggest influence. He raised me and he’s my best friend,” Dustin said. “We help and learn from each other. I guess that’s how we make it as partners.”

Larry and Dustin partnered to establish “Jasik Hay Farms”. They now run close to 500 Brangus cows for commercial production and have 1,300 acres for coastal hay production, but it was not a short road getting to that point. Dustin started his own business from scratch at age 14 when his dad helped him buy his first set of cows. Just three years later, he leased some land and bought 50 Brangus cows. Dustin, who solely through perseverance and hard work, built a successful business without having anything handed to him.

“If you’re starting from scratch, you have to start out small and grow from there,” Dustin said. “We started from nothing 18 years ago, and being a first generation farm sets us apart.”

Dustin’s biggest critic, he said, is his wife, Kate. The young couple met at a dance after Kate moved from Comfort to Pleasanton when she was 18. Kate was unfamiliar with the agriculture industry growing up, and had limited knowledge about the cattle business. Much like Dustin learned from his father, Kate learned from her husband and took new challenges head on.

“I didn’t know anything about cattle before I met Dustin,” Kate said. “He taught me everything I know. Now we just like to drive around and look at cattle on the farm together.”

Kate contributes significantly to the success of the business. While the guys are sorting cows, she examines the quality and helps with culling. With a smile on her face the size of Texas, Kate doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She drives the tractor and helps harvest hay in the summer.

Kate also does the marketing work for the family business designing and placing advertisements, managing the website and publicizing the farm on Facebook. She said there are numerous advantages to using social media, and she uses several venues to publicize the family’s achievements and create awareness and publicity for their business. Using platforms such as Facebook directs people to their website and increases visibility. After advertising their big win in San Antonio last year, Kate said she saw an increase in traffic to their Facebook page and website.

“Social media is a source of free advertising that increases publicity without the cost of print advertising,” Kate said.

Other than exploiting Facebook and the farm’s website to increase interaction with customers, Kate is working on starting a blog. She said because more and more people are joining the social media movement, it is advantageous for producers to utilize these new tools to more effectively communicate with a new audience.

“I think there are a lot of younger people wanting to stay in the ag business but don’t have the resources. Advocacy draws people to our industry,” Kate said, “and our industry must keep up with the times and explore new ways to communicate with young people.”

Between feeding cows and helping her husband, Kate does not miss a beat even with a little one on her hip. The couple had a boy, Barin, in May 2011 and are proud to raise him on a farm learning the cattle business just like Dustin did.

“We live here on the farm and working together allows us to spend more time together,” Dustin said. “We get a lot of joy being able to raise our son on the farm and look forward to teaching him a lot.”

The Jasik family has faced difficult challenges just like other producers have recently. Dustin attributes their continued success to being self sufficient with their hay production and the quality of their Brangus cattle.

“We drive on quality in our replacement females. That’s what we raise and what we market,” Dustin said. “We’re not necessarily trying to grow in numbers. We focus on quality and strive to keep satisfied customers, raising what they want and need, and that’s heifers that will breed easily, milk well and handle well.”

Dustin mentioned several reasons why he breeds his commercial cows to Brangus bulls. He said the primary reason he likes Brangus is the breed’s ability to perform in the harsh South Texas climate. Brangus cows breed back more easily, are more docile, handle better and have very little udder problems from what Dustin has experienced. Additionally, he said they always seem to top the market without fluctuating.

“There’s a market for Brangus bull calves or female calves. Brangus adapt well to different climates, they’re hardy, good quality and good breeders with good mothering-ability,” Dustin said.

Dustin said he responds to their customers’ needs and continually focuses on improving quality. To ensure this high quality, Dustin and Larry enroll their females in the Brangus Gold program, a service provided by the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) that verifies Brangus genetics in commercial females.

“Having been using Brangus Gold for a year, [it] validates quality. The tags reassure our customers who are buying our replacement females that we’re breeding to registered Brangus bulls,” Dustin said.

The Jasiks take pride in the business they have built. They consider their biggest reward winning the San Antonio All-Breed Sale Overall Grand Champion in 2011. This was only the second time in the last 19 years that the Brangus breed received the title. They have also had several Breed Champion Brangus Bred Heifers and Pairs over the last eight years.

The Jasiks have an inspiring story to tell- one of tough challenges and many triumphs. Families like the Jasiks motivate us to work harder and live better.

“You can’t just give up the first dry spell you hit,” Dustin said. “You can’t give up because it will pay off in the end.”

Find out more about the Jasiks and their operation by visiting their website at www.jasikhayfarms.com.

IBBA Teaming up with Angus to Host Tweetups

Attention NCBA attendees, producers, social media enthusiasts and cattle community:

The International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) is teaming up with Angus to host two tweetups at the upcoming NCBA Annual Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn., to connect with industry professionals, agriculture advocates and producers from all over the country. Join conversations about current issues, industry topics, social media uses and benefits, or simply visit with some of our industry’s leaders. Wednesday, February 1, at 6:00 pm, join ag and beef tweeps at the American Angus Association booth (#1061) for discussions about some challenges and innovative ideas related to social media. Gather again at the GoBrangus booth (#1637) Friday, February 3, at 3:00 pm, to discuss solutions to those challenges we all face and how we can apply what we  learned from the Cattlemen’s College and seminars. Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know the faces behind the Twitter handles, hashtags and conversations happening online.

Wondering what a tweetup is? Urban Dictionary defines tweetup as, “An organized or impromptu gathering of people that use Twitter.” We will not pick on or exclude anyone who doesn’t use Twitter; We will only encourage you to start!

Visit http://www.beefusa.org/ to learn more about the NCBA Convention, and click here to see a trade show floor plan.

Get involved. Share your story with #SM.

Social media is “a great tool for organizations such as National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to use to get our message out to people who otherwise would’t hear it.”
-Bill Donald, 2011 NCBA President 

Current National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bill Donald demonstrates how he utilizes social media (SM) to communicate and explains importance of using SM tools.

Get involved. Share your story. We’ll help you get started.

Social Media

Don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to have your own weekly video series to communicate. Start out with a few simple Facebook status updates or a couple of short tweets once a day. Once you have the basics down, you can begin posting photos and videos or even start your own blog!

There are some great online resources to help you along your social media adventure! First, you need to know who your audience is. Identifying your target audience will enable you to better tailor your message so it reaches the type of people you want to attract to your site. It also makes your site more valuable if you’re posting information relevant to your audience. This article will help you identify your target audience: http://www.writingthoughts.com/?p=876 

Second, you need to understand what SM platform (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) is most beneficial for the message(s) you’re trying to send. This article will help you determine which platform to use when sending a message: http://bestbloggingtipsonline.com/5-days-turn-your-blog-into-social-media-hub-day-3-building-blocks/

Don’t get frustrated when you begin using these social media tools. There are online resources, tutorials and blogs you can refer to for help. As you get more comfortable with the terminology and posting material becomes more routine, you’ll soon find you have unlocked a whole new world. You’ll have more followers, fans, tweets, posts, videos, photos and information than you know what to do with. You’ll have access to more information, and you’ll know exactly where and how to find the resources you were looking for.

As always, you can contact Brittni Drennan at the IBBA office if you have more questions about using social media.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

What Does Social Media Have to do With Agriculture?

“The conversation is happening about food and farm – even if farmers and ranchers aren’t at the table talking.”

Why should agriculture care about social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? It’s really quite simple. Mass influence. Facebook reached 150 million users nearly three times faster than a cell phone. Social media is a culture changer, not a fad. If you’re not at the table, you can’t be a part of constructing the face of agriculture – nor can you counter the misinformation campaigns around food, fuel, feed or fiber.

Read the Full Story

Don’t know how to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, etc.)? Follow this link to find tutorials on “Getting Started in Social Media”.