5/09 Promotion: dairy tells its story online


Dairy checkoff launches myDairy social media program

By Billy Travis

Over the past few months, we’ve all been hearing more about some new ways to communicate on the Internet. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are only a few. For someone like me who avoids the computer outside of running my farm business, it’s a whole new language. 

Billy Travis is a Kentucky dairy producer, National Dairy Board member and chair of Dairy Management Inc.’s Producer and Industry Relations Committee.

Billy Travis is a Kentucky dairy producer, National Dairy Board member and chair of Dairy Management Inc.’s Producer and Industry Relations Committee.

Yet, nearly 60% of Americans younger than 30 say they obtain most of their national and international news online. The new way of communicating, especially among our future dairy consumers, is through the Internet. Social media has power: 

• 112 million bloggers

• 3 billion photos on Flickr, a web site that allows browsers to post photos and other images 

• 140 million users on Facebook, a social networking website

• 30 million LinkedIn users, a business professional networking website

• 13 hours of video uploaded every minute of every day to YouTube 

Market research indicates that currently more than 373 million people use social media. That number is expected to grow to 1 billion globally by 2012. Social media is increasingly influencing pop culture, meaning that it also influences how the public perceives dairy products, dairy producers and milk production. And, with less than 2% of the U.S. population involved in farming today, many people don’t have the opportunity to visit a dairy farm in order to learn firsthand how we produce safe, wholesome and nutritious milk and dairy products. That’s an important reason why social media needs to be on our radar. 

Dairy producers, through our checkoff investment, have launched a new initiative to help us tell our story through “myDairy,” a social media initiative that kicked off with two webinars (web-based meetings) that attracted more than 350 dairy producers, dairy collegiate students and other industry representatives.

Create dairy industry “moovement” online

The dairy checkoff’s social media program, myDairy, aims to deliver positive information about dairy farms and milk production to millions of consumers by helping producers and other industry advocates who use online communication tools to connect directly with consumers online. By mobilizing dairy producers, experts and other enthusiasts who already spend time online, dairy can develop a network of social media-savvy advocates to tell the dairy industry’s story, and reinforce and build its positive image among the public. 

Another compelling reason to establish a strong, positive presence online for dairy is that today, more than ever before, many individuals, groups and organizations have negative, uninformed or inaccurate opinions about modern dairy farming. These anti-dairy forces are actively and effectively using social media to share their point of view with a wide public audience. 

Bottom line, social media matters to our current and future consumers, and to the future of the dairy industry. 

As part of the myDairy strategy, the dairy checkoff has launched a comprehensive program that includes: online monitoring of websites, blogs and other online commentary; marketing of the producer-funded website dairyfarmingtoday.org on YouTube, Facebook and Flickr; and a password-protected toolkit to support dairy advocates who tell their story online. 

The myDairy toolkit is a great resource for those who want to tell dairy’s great story of how we care for our animals, land and water to provide safe, wholesome and nutritious dairy products. The toolkit includes: 

• Tips on how to use social media to share positive dairy experiences online 

• Ways to set up and maintain a blog and other social media

• A secure blog for dairy advocates to share their social media experiences 

• Consumer-tested messages to help ensure that the industry speaks with one voice when talking with the general public about modern dairy farming 

• Information about emerging online services and trends 

• Tools to respond to online discussions 

Dairy advocates can post questions to dairy checkoff staff for help in responding to consumer questions. One Minnesota producer who started her own personal blog following the myDairy webinar said that “it’s funny that, when writing about the farm, how a farmer would understand something varies so differently from how a consumer would think about it … The toolkit provides great tips for making videos on-farm and taking photos … I’m excited to be a part of it.” 

This excitement is building – and we all have a role to play. Even if you’re like me and the social media movement has passed you by, tell your children, grandchildren and other family and friends out the myDairy program – and have them help spread the word. 

It’s as simple as an e-mail. Contact mydairy@rosedmi.com for more information and get started telling your story.