Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Don Schindler on Verified Famers

Most of the time we like to think of ourselves as experts here, but sometimes you have to call in the big guns. Today we brought in Don Schindler, the Senior Vice President, Digital Initiatives at Dairy Management Inc. (Digital Strategist, Executive Social Media Trainer).

Okay, that's a mouthful even for a cow, so lets just call him a social media guru.

We picked Don's brain with a few questions about farmers on Twitter having verified accounts.

1. So we will know if we can trust you, please name your three favorite dairy products. Yes, this is a test.

Fairlife Chocolate Milk
Sartori’s Raspberry BellaVitano Cheese
Cookie Dough Ice Cream (no brand, really but I love Ben and Jerry’s.

2. You wrote How do you become a farmer rock star, which was the inspiration for our report on verified farmers. In a nutshell what is a farmer rock star and is it important for farmers to become one?

I know most farmers I speak with are confused by this - they honestly don’t understand what I mean since most of them do their jobs without any fanfare at all - isolated in the field, chugging away on a tractor, working with the animals. But once they are off the farm and take a trip to the city (not your hometown because everyone knows you there), they can be attacked by people just wanting to know what it’s like to be a farmer. People nowadays are pretty removed (two to four generations) from farm life and they just don’t know what it’s like but they want to. Knowing a real farmer is very interesting to people because all they know are the commercials or the movies. Farmers can take advantage of this situation by answering their questions and sharing their lives - yes, there will be some criticism but that’s part of the life of a rockstar. With fame, there’s always some critics. The big thing to do here is ignore the critics, answer those that are genuinely interested and respectful and give the fans what they want - your food and your insights into how you farm.

3. Now let's talk about Twitter. How does having users with verified accounts benefit Twitter and its members?

Verified accounts mean that you are talking to the real deal - there are so many fake accounts out there. In fact, I love telling my social media rockstars that while a verified account is nice, having a fake account that mocks what you do is actually a bigger sign that you’ve made it. I mean, someone is actually taking time out of their day just to act like you. Wow.

4.We are disappointed by the lack of verified farmers on Twitter. Do you think the Twitter community would improve with verified farmers, and if so how?

Verified twitter accounts are great but I haven’t met anyone who knows exactly how to get them. I have seen them pop-up when people with large followings get too many fake accounts named after them. Here's what Twitter says about verified accounts. I do believe that the Twitter community would be improved with verified farmer accounts but I would rather just see more farmers in general on Twitter interacting with the general public. The more farmers we have on Twitter, it won’t matter as much if they are verified or not. I’m not too sure the majority of the public understands what a verified account is.

5. Will Gilmer was one of the earliest farmers on Twitter and has consistently been innovative with his approach, his content, and activity with others. Would being verified help him in reaching more people with his farm story? 
Will Gilmer

Honestly, I don’t know. I do know that if more farmers are on Twitter and help share his stories as well as their own we would reach more people.

And we mean beyond being able to DM swimsuit models and the latest bombshell actresses!

That’s Will’s choice of what he does with his popularity. Personally I would encourage adding more video to his feed as well as every farmer out there. Video is definitely where the world is going with content sharing. Make sure you upload it natively if you want it to loop.

6. Anything else you'd like to mention?

If you aren't sure about how to use Twitter, I've got a couple of posts that could help you. Here’s why you need to be using it and here’s how to set it up twitter for your farm.

We'd like to thank Don for his input. You can follow Don on Twitter or visit his site for lots of valuable information on social media and marketing.

Interestingly enough, besides Don, our only other interview on the Udder Side was with rock star, Robert Plant.

What do you think? Are farmers rock stars? Should Twitter verify their accounts? Leave a comment or share below!

Agent 286, reporting from the Udder Side.

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