This past Sunday, what started with a birthday wish by one farmer on Twitter, shoved the dairy industry into the spotlight for millions of Twitter users.

Sunday afternoon, Twitter user @FarmerHaley, an Ohio farmer, stated that his birthday wish was for people to use #moo in their twitter posts. Followers of this user, @RayLinDairy, a California dairy producer and @GilmerDairy, an Alabama dairy producer, thought twitter posts using #moo would help bring attention to the dairy industry and its current economic crisis.

For those not familiar with Twitter, words preceded by the # symbol are known as hashtags. They are used as a label to help people find topics they have an interest in.

The #moo hashtag was so popular on Sunday afternoon that the Twitter site took notice. The #moo hashtag peaked as the number 4 trending topic on Sunday and remained high in the ranks of trending topics.

More than 3,150 people have used #moo in their posts or “tweets” and connected with the dairy industry since Sunday. The hashtag #moo has been “tweeted” more than 6,533 times, making #moo a trending topic on Twitter.

Does the fact that #moo made a trending topic mean there will be a huge uptick in dairy sales – probably not, says Will Gilmer, twitter user @GilmerDairy. But, there are some really big positives that come from this, Gilmer said in a recent blog post.

“First and foremost, people who may have never given a passing thought to where their dairy products come from were given the invitation to learn more. The term’s popularity on Twitter was sustained in large part because people asked what it meant and many ag-types were quick to tell the story behind #moo. Consumers were invited to engage in conversation about food production directly with the people who produce it. How many will take advantage of this is yet to be seen, but I dare say a couple of thousand people now know for the first time that there are producers willing and available to talk with them about food and agriculture via this format.

“The second big accomplishment in my mind is really an extension of the first…the success of #moo validates the use of social media by agriculturalists. While websites such as Twitter and Facebook can never match the effectiveness of our proactive, personal engagement of people in conversations about our operations and values, they do give us a forum in which we can reach a wide and culturally varied audience. Social media and blogs give us the opportunity to quickly talk about our farms and ranches between chores or from the comfort of our home office and they also give us access to people who live in places we may never have the time or means to travel to.”