Somedays, the world of social media makes my head spin.
I discovered Pinterest a few months ago, and since then, became obsessed with surfing through volumes of ideas and information. For those of you who haven't discovered the new time sucker, let me explain. Think of Pinterest as a giant bulletin board in the sky. For those of us of a "certain age," we used to have these in our bedrooms or kitchens and whenever we found something we wanted to keep we would cut it out of a magazine or whatever and "pin" it to the bulletin board. Since most of us do at least some, if not all, work online these days, pinning something to the board required printing it out or at least saving a particular website to a bookmark or reading list program.
When it came time to retrieve that information, for me at least, that meant trying to remember where I put the item. Pinterest has changed that. Pinterest is a collection of thousands upon thousands of electronic bulletin boards. People from all over the world have “pinned” ideas on their personal boards and the vast majority of them are public – although you can make them private. So, say you’re looking for a recipe for something as simple as milk and cookies. Type those words in the Pinterest search engine, and you’ll get not only hundreds of recipes but also ideas on how to serve it. Type in “dairy equipment,” and you’ll find “pins” of old dairy equipment as art, but you’ll also find “pins” about equipment for sale or a site where another farmer has reviewed a piece of equipment.
From the looks of it, the dairy industry is just now finding out how to use Pinterest to promote itself and its products. But more and more, social media sites like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter are essential to the success of modern businesses, even farms.
Type in “buy milk” right now, and you’ll find a few options for buying and selling milk, but more often than not, you’ll find reasons not to buy milk. The folks out there who think milk is part of a corporate farming conspiracy to pollute the universe are really good at using social media. The problem is while those of who grew up using an actual paper phone book can find a source for buying products without use of a computer or smartphone, there is a whole generation of consumers out there who can’t or won’t. If they’re in the market for a new product, they’ll look for a Facebook page or Twitter account or do a Pinterest search. If our product isn’t there or is buried, they’ll find our competitors or … our enemies.
But navigating the world of social media marketing is daunting, even for those us pretty savvy and finding our way online. For most producers, there is little time to create and maintain what feels like an endless line of web pages and online identities.
Step in my friend Dennis Smith. He’s a Caldwell, Idaho-based writer and consultant who specializes in social media. He told me good social media could happen in about 15 minutes a day, with a little planning.
“Is it worth the time?” I asked him.
“I can’t think of anywhere where people aren’t getting a return,” he said. He suggested I snap a picture and post it each day. Along with that photo, include a line or two about what is going on around the dairy. That post can be posted on multiple sites. Once a week, post a short blog update about animal care, or daily life or how the product is made and again, post it on multiple sites. Use a recipe for something that highlights a dairy product and post that. Once you get a plan and develop a habit, it really doesn't take that much time.
Dennis told me that the way social sites like Facebook write their programming, the pages with the most activity get moved to the front of the pack – so when users sign on, those are pages that get seen.
I thought I’d give it a try. Using this page, I’m going to journal the experiment and let you know how it’s going here. My last post, about my cheesecake disaster, got just 70 views. My goal will be for my first post in the month of March to get more than 300 views. That gives me two months to build my virtual business. Then maybe you can use what I’ve learned to build your personal business.