5 ways to connect with consumers

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In today’s day and age, consumers are using social media to get their news and information.

From cousins to grandparents and everyone in between, people are employing some form of social media to communicate, says Jolene Griffin, manager industry communications with Dairy Management Inc.

Facebook and twitter are still among the most popular social media venues, but other forms of social media like Reddit and Dig are gaining in popularity.

But how do you use these different forms of social media to resonate with consumers? Griffin offered these five suggestions during a myDairy Webinar hosted by Dairy Management Inc. on Tuesday.

1. Identify your real-life communities. Identifying online communities is as simple as thinking about what your real life communities are, says Griffin. Real life communities may be sporting events, activities with kids, or hobbies like cooking and knitting. Online communities exist for just about any hobby or interest you might have.

Remember to think outside the box when identifying online communities. What are some organizations that you belong to that would be a natural fit to join online? Make a list of your non-work related interests and search for online components to these communities. “Your time spent online should be an extension of your connections and interests in real life,” says Griffin.

Sometimes people think they need to find dairy specific conversations to join. But it’s about sharing your dairy experiences with a broader community, she says. This can be as or more powerful than those dairy specific conversations.

2. Listen and observe. Once you’ve made a list of communities to join, listen and observe the conversations.

Monitor the activity. Maybe the local Boy Scout or Girl Scout troupe mentions in a Facebook post that they are looking for outdoor trip ideas.  “You could invite the troupe to your farm as a possible trip or offer to present healthy eating tips,” shares Griffin.

In order to build trust and foster relationships you do have to spend some time monitoring and observing the conversation, it’s all part of building credibility.

3. Find an “in”. There might not be an immediate opportunity to share your message; you may have to monitor the online communities for a while. The longer you monitor and observe it will be easier to find an in.

Right now chocolate milk is a topic of interest. If you were part of the National PTA Facebook community, and actively monitoring posts you could share dairy experience when it’s appropriate. “Chocolate milk could be an in,” explains Griffin.

If you follow a national shopping chain, such as Target, people might have questions about products that the store carries. If you answer questions posted to the store’s Facebook page it is a way to give dairy a positive plug.

The more you monitor and listen, you’ll know intuitively where the “in” is, explains Griffin.

4. Craft your communication and responses. What we say is just as important as how we say it. We want to ensure the messages we’re putting forth are showable, searchable, sayable and shareable, says Michele Ruby, communication consultant with Ruby-Do, Inc.

Don’t be afraid to include photos and videos to convey your message. “It’s one thing to tell someone, but it’s another to show them a picture,” Griffin says. “When talking about planting corn this weekend because it’s finally dry, show pictures. Pictures help people feel like they were there.”

Use appropriate tagging methods to ensure messages are searchable. In Twitter you want to use hash tags, such as #farming or #dairy. Blog posts should be tagged with key words. Taking these extra steps will make sure that people can find your information.

Type like you talk will help your messages be sayable. “You want your communication to be read as if you were conversing with them verbally,” says Ruby. “Incorporate your own personal stories and use words exercised in every day conversation. Don’t just spit out canned facts.”

“Online posts and tweets are really conversations,” agrees Griffin. “You want to make sure it sounds like your conversing in real life.” Avoid dairy industry jargon.

Communication should be sayable. Try and keep posts below the 140 character limit, notes Griffin. On Twitter this type of tweet will be more attractive to be retweeted. If the message is over the 140 character limit, people may disregard it and not retweet your message, she explains.

When responding, keep it simple. The message doesn’t have to be complicated. For example the Minnesota Twins recently tweeted: “What food is everyone most excited for this upcoming season? Walk-a-taco, turkey-to-go, minnieapple pie or kosher dogs?”

If you had seen this tweet, you could have responded: “I’m looking forward to the ice cream stand. Nothing better than ice cream and #baseball.”

Your message shouldn’t be “I’m a dairy farmer and I think everyone should eat ice cream,” explains Griffin. Look for fun, simple ways to talk about the products we produce in the dairy industry.

Another example might be if you’re a member of a cooking community. If someone is talking about summer picnics and is asking for suggestions of what to take, it’s easy to pipe in with your favorite dairy recipe, says Griffin.  “There are many ways to incorporate and bring the dairy industry to life.”

5. Manage relationships. Once you’ve become a member of an online community you need to manage your involvement. “I understand you have a million things going on at the farm, you’re a parent and you have your own personal interests. But managing relationships shouldn’t be overwhelming,” explains Griffin.

Engaging on a regular basis in online communities that reflect your personal interests, not just the dairy industry should make managing relationships easier. Remember to be proactive and not just reactive.

Social media use should be a unique experience to you and your interests. But the idea is to look around at the communities that you’re interested in online and join the conversation, says Griffin.

For more information on using social media and how you can join the conversation, contact: mydairy@rosedmi.com or go to: http://www.mydairytoolkit.com



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