A little birdie told me
By: Ryan Curtis

I’ve done my best to keep up with the changing times. Well ... for the most part. It took me awhile to get on Facebook, and I did that through my comic strip character – CityBoy – instead of my real identity. I still have relatives that refuse to make CityBoy part of their friends.
Now I am on Twitter. @ProudtoDairy is the name and sharing tidbits about what is new with Proud to Dairy is the game. However, I am still learning the rules to this game.
While at the Ag Media Summit, I learned a good rule of thumb to making Twitter work. Scott McKain, speaker and customer service expert extraordinaire, told attendees that the people that have a lot of followers are “interesting people, saying interesting things, that are truly interested in others.” He said one-third of his tweets are retweets. (If that doesn’t make sense, ask around and someone will be able to explain it.)
You may not be interested in tweeting or any number of the spin-offs that have come about since or before, but I have learned some interesting things that might be helpful.

1. Be yourself
Being fake is not as interesting as who you really are. That doesn’t just apply to Twitter. You are the face of the dairy industry in your area. Let the real you be seen. People want to know you and trust you.

2. Give it a shot
I really didn’t want to tweet (which still sounds silly to me), mostly because I didn’t know how. Once I got in, it wasn’t as difficult to learn as I thought. I am still learning, but I learn more when I try. So if you are putting off joining a group, blogging or using some other networking tools because you don’t know how or worry you won’t be good at it, give it a shot!

3. Time is limited
It is easy to get too involved in social networking. I am not suggesting everyone needs to join every social network and blog for 15 hours a day. However, ignoring web tools altogether will leave you sorely unequipped for progressing in the future. A website is a good way to give people basic information about your dairy and tell your story. The Proud to Dairy site is a good way to practice blogging and telling your story. Moderation is important, but that also means not being extreme in either direction. Pick up one new tool and see if it is worth your time.

4. Lots of people, lots of noise
Have you ever been to a party where there is so much noise going on that you can’t hardly hear yourself think, let alone hear what someone is trying to say? You become hoarse just catching up with friends. The same is true for the Internet. Everyone can contribute to the conversation, which means there is a lot of noise out there.Every Tom, Dick and Harry can give their two cents about milk, qualified or not.

5. One message
If, at that same party, you could get a group saying the same thing, others might start listening to your group, and each member of that group wouldn’t have to talk as loud because they are united. That’s kind of like the “Got Milk?” slogan that was so popular for awhile.
As the dairy industry goes forward, we would be more effective if we can start saying the same thing. I think it goes beyond the product, which is good, and focuses on common values. Too many agendas only creates more noise. The caucus that was started on Capitol Hill is a good example of people wanting to unite so they can make a difference. If we can unite, we become more powerful.

6. Next step???
So where do we go from here? Who’s leading? Who’s following? What are we doing? I can hear the chatter rising. Let’s talk about it. This article will be a blog post on the Proud to Dairy website and if you have an opinion, share it. If you have questions about web tools, ask them. If you have a stake in the dairy industry, tell us your thoughts.
Don’t know how? Give it a shot.
Proud to Dairy is a group of dairy professionals uniting to share in a vision. If there is a place you should feel comfortable getting your feet wet in the blogisphere, this is the place.

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