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Old 08-15-2011, 11:04 AM   #1
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Default Take social media by the horns, beef producers told

Take social media by the horns, beef producers told

Landline Pip Courtney
Updated August 13, 2011 00:17:33


Watch story here, click on "The Medium is the Message": http://www.abc.net.au/landline/

Australian beef producers have been told they need to start tweeting, blogging and Facebooking to regain the community's trust and repair their industry's tarnished image.

The advice was from Troy Hadrick, an American cattle rancher who is also one of America's highest profile social media 'agvocates'.

Mr Hadrick says Australia's beef industry can recover from the live export crisis. The first shipment of cattle since the lifting of the live export ban to Indonesia left the Port of Darwin on Wednesday.

"It's important for individual producers to get out and make sure consumers know how this is affecting you, what you are trying to do to fix this, and why you care as much as they do in making sure this doesn't happen again. That is how you work your way through it," he said.

"Don't sit back and wait for it to resolve itself. You have to be an active participant in this conversation."

In Australia as a guest of the embattled peak red meat body Meat And Livestock Australia, Mr Hadrick says American farmers and ranchers have been forced to use social media to defend their industry against increasingly powerful animal rights groups.

"There are groups of people all over the United States and all over the world that really have a goal of trying to eliminate agriculture, and especially animal agriculture," he said.

As part of the growing agvocacy movement in the United States, Mr Hadrick and his wife Stacy blog, tweet and Facebook about life on their South Dakota cattle ranch.

"Consumers definitely are listening. They can sit in a large city like New York or Chicago and really make that connection with where their food is coming from," Stacey Hadrick said.

Mr Hadrick says the future of agriculture in Australia and in the US depends on farmers explaining what they do.

"We have got people who really don't understand where their food comes from, and don't understand what it takes to raise that food," he said.

"We used to laugh about it because we thought everybody knows the difference between a beef and a dairy cow, but now I think we're standing back and saying 'this isn't so funny'.

"This is something we need to take seriously because it's important people know these things.

"We have committed ourselves to making sure we're doing whatever we can to educate people about agriculture so our children have the ability to become the sixth generation of our family to be involved in this business."

Reach and power

The Hadricks says the power and reach of Twitter has been a revelation.

"I quickly realised after a few minutes on Twitter that there were conversations taking place about agriculture on there and we needed to be a part of that, because if you are not at the table when those conversations are taking place, if you are not part of the conversation, you are getting eaten at that table," Mr Hadrick said.

Stacey Hadrick says they are reaching hundreds of thousands of people through social media.

"It's free and it's really levelled the playing field for us in the US," she said.

Recently appointed Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) managing director Scott Hansen says MLA is committed to helping its members learn to use social media.

"MLA must start focusing more on equipping producers to tell their own story," he said.

The agvocacy movement is becoming increasingly sophisticated in the US.

"In the last three years more than 2,000 American beef producers have completed an online agvocacy training course," Mr Hansen said.

"They are now armed and equipped to talk to their community groups, local media and consumers to be their own agvocates."

He says in Australia more and more groups are standing up for themselves.

"Like Save Australian Farming; in four weeks it's website had 40,000 views. The authenticity of their stories is evident in every keystroke," he said.

MLA chairman Don Heatley concedes the organisation failed to harness the power of social media when the live cattle export crisis struck.

"Social media drove this issue like you would not believe," he said.

"We weren't ready. We weren't well enough organised in that sense of using social media.

"As an industry we must grasp this medium, get with it and get on with it. We must use it to our advantage, not have others use it to our disadvantage.

"Average everyday producers have a tremendous role to play here. We must stand up and tell our story."

After hearing the Hadricks speak, Central Queensland beef producer Rick Greenup says he felt empowered.

"I really enjoyed the inspiration that they gave us an industry to give us power back, and I think coming here today we were feeling a little powerless," he said.

"I think we've got a lot of power and we've got a great story to tell, and as Don Heately said, we've got nothing to hide - let's get out there and tell our true story."


http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-1...-horns/2837174
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:33 AM   #2
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Social media storm: Farmers take to Twitter

By ABC's Pip Courtney
Updated August 18, 2011 18:08:09


For an hour-and-a-half on Sunday Landline was at the centre of a Twitter storm.

We didn't see it coming, and now we're trying to make sense of, and understand the significance of what unfolded.

Have we just been given a supercharged masterclass in how social media is changing the way individuals and businesses communicate?

Or, is this just how one small, super chatty segment of the community communicates?

Is this niche or major? Is this fundamental change or a passing fad?

I don't know.

What I saw on Sunday though, shook me up.

So what happened?

Well in a first for Landline, which has had a Twitter presence @abclandline (2,000 followers) for just over a year now, we invited viewers to tweet after the show about my story on social media (#SM) and the growing agvocacy (#agvocacy) movement in the United States.

American cattleman Troy Hadrick, @TroyHadrick (3,071 followers) a well-known agvocate in the USA, who featured in the story, would tweet from his ranch in South Dakota.

In the story, Meat and Livestock Australia chairman Don Heatley said he'd been inspired by Troy Hadrick, and while he didn't get social media, and was a bit scared of it, he knew he had to get with the times for the good of the beef industry.

"There's clearly a message that's come through from the Hadricks that social media is a very powerful tool and probably in Australia we haven't used it well enough," he said.

"We certainly have got the message now."

By the time the story aired, Don Heatley said he would be on Twitter.

Weeks went by though, and no Don.

I caught up with him at a function last Thursday, weeks after our interview and just a few days before the story aired.

He was just back from WA, where a social media consultant told a group of agripolitical leaders that social media was now so important, that any executive of a public company not involved in it was derelict in their duty to their shareholders.

That's a pretty big call. But not big enough to get Don tweeting.

I know he was apprehensive, but he was going to look pretty lame if he talked the talk about Twitter on Landline, and then failed to join.

He'd look even lamer if in the story he talked about how well animal rights groups used social media to drive the live cattle cruelty story, how his very own MLA had been caught flat-footed and he'd still done nothing to get into social media.

On Saturday with no sign of Don in the Twitterverse, Landline's executive producer Peter Lewis @endofthebitumen (158 followers) tweeted:

'where is Don Heatley?'

No answer.

A few hours later @Don_Heatley signed on.

Pleased he'd conquered his fear and might take part, I worried our viewers would have better things to do when the show finished.

Would it be @pipcourtney (734 followers) @Don_Heatley (2 followers) and @troyhadrick tweeting to each other?

I figured I'd get an idea of the level of interest after 1.00pm, but as the story began airing just after noon people started tweeting.

Tweets were retweeted, more tweets followed, and on and on it went. Within minutes hundreds of people from around the world were into it.

As I juggled the i-Pad, an i-Phone and the Mac in the office I was thinking "hold your horses tweeps (people who tweet) or come 1:00 there will be nothing to tweet about".

At 1:00pm Landline's Twitter moderator Amanda Clarke @Amanda_Clark (450 followers) and I waited to see if people still had things to say?

Hell yes! They went off.

A Brisbane chef, @grubstix (582 followers) took part, truck driver @asphaltjunky (348 followers) pulled her truck over to tweet, and a Monsanto rep from Tennessee @JPlovesCOTTON (3,830 followers) was there.

When they address farmers Troy and Stacy Hadrick tell them social media is a cheap quick way they can agvocate for agriculture and connect with urban consumers without leaving their farm.

"It's levelled the playing field for us with the anti-agricultural movement," Stacey Hadrick says.

It's also a great way farmers hundreds and thousands of kilometres apart can communicate with each other, build a sense of community and overcome isolation.

Grahame Rees from Bathurst tweeted:

"If you are new just jump in, in 6 months I have met many friends across the world, some personally."

Ryan Goodman @AR_ranchhand (2,078 followers) a ranch hand from Kansas who's Twitter bio declares 'my day job is more fun than your vacation' tweeted:

"SM allows me to connect worldwide with whoever has an interest. Like right now, on the other side of the world."

Ryan who's been known to tweet and twitpic from atop his horse, tweets with hashtags #AgProud and #RanchLife. He blogs at http://www.agricultureproud.com and he Facebooks.

Ray Prock Jnr a dairyman from California @RayLinDairy (13,109 followers) tweeted:

"#SM has changed my life because we can be connected across so many communities, countries & continents worldwide!"

Californian rancher @JeffFowle (37,176 followers) chimed in, as did New York-based Aussie Duncan Schieb, @beerwithduncan (955 followers).

South Australian lamb producer Richard Gunner @Richard_Gunner (2,213 followers):

"Social media is an awesome thing for country people it empowers and connects."

From outback WA @Chookchooker (23 followers) tweeted this.

"Well done #abclandline & @TroyHadrick great story encouraged me to join Twitter. Lets bridge the gap between the farm and food on the plate."

Toowoomba based Malcolm Lewis @lewismal (649 followers) contributed this:

"Social Media is helping me build relationships & to better understand a diversity of rural people, their lives & industry."

Tom Whitty @Tweetingwhitt (765 followers) co-founder of #agchatoz which chats about ag issues every Tuesday night on Twitter says social media is transforming agriculture.

"It is providing a new platform of engagement for agri-politics, new movements are born on #SM."

During the tweet-fest Amanda Clarke emailed to say the tweets were coming so fast she couldn't keep up.

Then Don Heatley tweeted and that made my day. He did it.

Mark one down for the dinosaurs.

Then we discovered the conversation #abclandline was trending.

I googled Twitter for Dummies an hour before the show so I didn't know the importance of this, but apparently trending is good.

It meant lots of people were using the hashtag #abclandline in their tweets to talk about the show.

It was one of the most talked-about topics in Australia on Sunday afternoon.

Former ABC rural journo Jane Paterson @JanePaddo joined Twitter just to take part.

Like me and Don Heatley she was dubious, a bit scared and had no idea what to expect. We were a trio of dinasours who needed a push.

To my tweet that I was on my "L" plates Jane who now does PR for Queensland agricultural lobby group AgForce replied:

"4get L plates, I need a second steering wheel & brake in my tweetmobile!"

And then this.

"congrts don, only leader here."

Typical Jane - sharp and straight to it.

Where were the leaders?

If social media is so important, and rural Australia has so much to lose - just look north to the live cattle trade to see how much - where were they?

The National Farmers Federation @NationalFarmers (569 followers) and @AgForceQLD (259 followers) were tweeting but agriculture's leaders were absent.

Reminds me what Troy Hadrick says about the power of Twitter.

"There are conversations about agriculture taking place on Twitter and they are going to take place whether we are there or not," he said.

"If you are not at the table when those conversations are taking place, if you are not part of the conversation, you are getting eaten at that table."

On Twitter yesterday he tweeted this, and it was retweeted many times by farmers impressed with his message about how they have to take control of their own image.

"It boils dn 2 who U wnt telling yr story 4 u. I dont wnt anyone else doing it 4 me. So if u dont do it, then who?"

Jane Patterson only tweeted five times on Sunday but this one too - a question to Troy Hadrick - was on the money.

"r u worried groups like mla will stop doing THEIR job of promoting ag and leave it all to grass roots farmers?"

Good question Jane.

Sunday's #abclandline traffic surprised seasoned twitterers.

Troy Hadrick messaged:

"And u were nervous about this? Wow! What a response! U musta hit a home run with story!"

Don Heatley rang. Like me he was shocked by the amount, and speed, of the Twitter traffic.

He told me his wife and daughter helped him with his first Twitter session. He tweeted 5 times.

His last was this:

"Great initiative Pip. Still learning twitter but recognize the power it returns to food producers."

Good on you Don, you didn't really want to but you did it.

Just like me and Paddo he was pushed to dip his toe into the social media pool/lake/ocean, and, just like us he gets its power now.

Jill Briggs @RTI_JillBriggs (91 followers) from Norong in Victoria had a tip for this trio of dinosaurs @don_Heatley @pipcourtney and @janepaddo:

"Best advice I got when I started tweeting is just have a go & if ur embarassed be reassured that no-one sees your 1st 10!"

There you go Don and Jane five more tweets to go before anyone takes any notice of either of you!

Pip Courtney is a journalist with ABC's Landline program.
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