Social media as a continuum

January 20, 2011

Social media, Facebook, Twitter, FlickrFacebook hubs have replaced web sites. Shareable social objects have replaced lifeless content. Earned relationships have replaced marketing collateral. Relevancy and context is the communicator’s — and the consumer’s — new battle cry. So says social media experts Brian Solis (@briansolis) and Jason Falls (@JasonFalls).

They presented — or should I say, enthralled – – at yesterday’s Explore and Engage Wichita event. My to-do and to-think-about lists are overflowing in terms of social media tools and strategies.

Some sound bites from Brian:

We are all competing for relevance.
Tools don’t matter. Engagement does.
Authenticity and transparency are keys to social media success.
Businesses have been run with a top-down approach. We are introducing a bottom-up approach.
Listening and hearing provide the tools to impart relevance.
Brands are no longer destinations. We have to build bridges back to them.
One-to-one-to-many is far more effective than one to many.
Social objects (tweets, posts, photos, videos) are the future of marketing.

Beyond the soundbites is Brian’s call for research, strategy and thought leadership: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alj2xxGf5XQ.

Jason echoes this approach, offering these steps:

1. Know your audience

2. Set goals.

3. Build a content strategy.

4. Choose the right tools.

5. Implement and activate.

In his words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owBU9zlCtLU.

Brian and Jason stressed measurement of outcomes — not a new business recommendation, but one we often forget. The other challenge: Once we earn relationships and thought leadership, we must nurture this privilege. Social media is a continuum.

The tremendous opportunities ahead…

#140conf Small Town

November 1, 2010

It was quickie grilled cheese for the kids tonight. And, the bottle calves were fed just a little late. They forgived me, though. I had a good excuse. I spent the day soaking in social media knowledge, tips and strategies at the 140conf Small Town in nearby Hutchinson, Kansas. Our mission: Explore the State of Now.

This was the first and only 140conference to be held in a small town. Previous locations included  New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. We looked at the real time Internet in a specific context — what it means for small town America. I was proud to join the voices talking about the intersection of social media, small towns and agriculture (@ZJHunn, @Kst8er76, @KSFarmGrown, @RocketGroup, @DebbieLB, @TykerMan1).

The line-up was simply outstanding. The topics ranged from tourism to education to entrepreneurship to PR to friendships, even to the lost children of El Salvador. The organizers — and visionaries —  Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) and Becky McCray (@BeckyMcCray) provided the framework: “The next person you meet could change your life.” (By the way, Jeff and Becky organized the 250-person event almost entirely through Twitter and one phone conversation.)

I just wished my traveling farmer could have been there — both for moral support (could they see my knees shaking?) and to see how the ag community is coming together through social media. I think we can change lives, as we communicate and educate to preserve the family farm legacy.

Thanks to Jeff and Becky and their army of volunteers for providing the forum. And, mark your calendars. The next #140conf Small Town is already set for September 20, 2011 in Hutchinson.

Social media branding

September 22, 2010

PR Evolution Social Media Workshop, PRSA KansasRamsey Mohsen, social media specialist with Digital Evolution Group (DEG), describes personal branding as a “green field.”

“There are no right answers,” he said at PR Evolution, a social media workshop sponsored by the Kansas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, www.prsakansas.org. Mohsen and Neal Sharma, chief executive officer and principal of DEG, presented on the topics of personal and corporate branding using social media strategies.

“A societal shift has happened,” Mohsen said in terms of social media. We all have a digital footprint — and we can influence that footprint through smart, authentic and consistent use of social media tools. Mohsen offers his “4:1” rule for guidance:

For every one social object (content) we create, we should create four other objects that fall into one or more of these categories:

  • informative
  • inspirational
  • entertaining
  • engaging
  • re (markable) – something others want to comment on or share
  • promotes others

Sharma expanded on the topic of social media for personal branding with his “rules of the road” for companies and other organizations.

“Eighty percent is strategy; 20 percent is technology,” he said. Companies need to ask:

  1. Can we devote the time?
  2. Can we sustain the effort?
  3. Is there a commitment to transparency?
  4. Is there executive sponsorship?
  5. Are we prepared to take action on the feedback?
  6. Do we know what we want to accomplish?

Strategies must be tied to objectives, he says. “If not, don’t do it. It’s a distraction.”

Mohsen and Sharma shared valuable information with our chapter — and motivated us regarding the responsibility and opportunity social media offers.

Listen to part of their presentations here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7RD_UKgO-8.

Download their complete presentations at the PRSA Kansas site: www.prsakansas.org, along with:

  • Inside the Golden Triangle Trends in Social, Real-time and Location-based Media by David Kamerer, PhD, APR, Assistant Professor, School of Communication, Loyola University – Chicago
  • How to Make Great Video by Jess Huxman, director of content, KPTS


April 16, 2010

AgChat, which started as a moderated Twitter chat (@agchat), has now developed into a multimedia resource for farmers — the AgChat Foundation, www.agchat.org. Its founder Michelle Payn-Knoper (@mpaynknoper) and other strong advocates for agriculture — agvocates — are leading the way, using social media to tell ag’s story. Does it matter? Yes. Should you care? Yes, regardless of whether you’ll ever set foot on a farm.

Why you should care: Our modern agriculture system means we have food and plenty of it. The 2008  Time Use Survey shows we spend only about 30 minutes a day on food preparation and clean-up. Yet, our fridges and bellies are full. And, there’s no apologies to be made for it. Modern agriculture is based on science backed by the nation’s leading researchers in the Extension System. Does that mean farmers get a free ride when they pollute or treat animal poorly? Of course not. However, today, agriculture is facing a fight like no other. It’s critical that farmers tell and show what their livelihoods — and legacies — are all about.

I’m trying to do my part, but I failed recently. I was on a call with other ag writers, when one person said that farmers have been complaining for years. Maybe that’s true. However, today’s battle with HSUS and the like is on a whole different scale. But, for one reason or another I did not delve in to make that point. I will next time, though, taking cues from those in the AgChat Foundation. It really is that important.

Writers on writing

January 1, 2010

“Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.” — John Steinbeck.

Ouch. But maybe a humility check is just what this writer needs as another year of words begin? I’m not discounting that good writing matters. However, with nearly 200 million people blogging alone, the world does seem saturated with words. Enter Twitter the editor. What fun — and what a challenge — to write something meaningful in 140 characters or less. Here are some other Twitter-sized thoughts on writers and writing I found funny and inspiring:

  • “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” Oscar Wilde
  • “I never knew what was meant by choice of words. It was one word or none.” Robert Frost
  • “You must write every single day of your life…” Ray Bradbury
  • “The idea is to get the pencil moving quickly.” Bernard Malamud
  • “Use the right word and not its second cousin.” Mark Twain
  • “Stick to the point.” W. Somerset Maugham

‘Nuf said. Happy writing and reading in the new year.

Thank a farmer

November 30, 2009

Agriculture advocates are working hard to educate Americans about farms and food. Twitter has the #thankafarmer initiative, with nearly 4,000 tweets using the hashtag so far. Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson declared Nov. 20 “Thank a Farmer” Day. USDA rolled out its “Know Your Farmer, Know your Food” campaign, saying “Today, there is too much distance between the average American and their farmer.” One advocate, Gene Hall, PR director for the Texas Farm Bureau (@TxAgPRGuy) summed it up in a recent tweet, “With city folks 3 generations from farm, we have a disconnect. That’s why web and soc med are so important.”

As a relative newcomer, farming is a culture to me. Agriculture influences where we live (10 miles from the nearest town), what we eat (homemade wheat bread), what we talk about (fertilizer, planting conditions, yields), the slang we use (cutting wheat, working ground), even when we take vacation (between wheat harvest and wheat planting). Agriculture also provides the wonderful opportunity to integrate work with family. My kids tag along with field work. They spend hours jumping in and out of hay bales and chatting with V. and their Grandpa at the machine shed.

I hope I’m doing my part to spread the word about agriculture. I’m proud to teach wheat science classes for the Extension service. This year, I’ll bring along our own wheat seeds to show the kids. And, I was very pleased when my “tweet cloud” showed that  “Kansas,” “wheat,” and “thanks” were my top three words.

I pledge to do more, helping connect others to the way of life I love.


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