Features

Beef 2012: Getting social all about cost-effective promotion

Russ Boadle, 08/05/2012

Kingaroy district stud cattle exhibitor Rosemary Balzer, Balrosa Bazadais, gets a helping hand from MLA social media manager Matthew Dwyer at the MLA Social Media Worlshop at Beef 2012.WHEN Nuffield Scholar and Marlborough district cattle producer Ray Vella saw how his wife Leah was using this social media tool Facebook to stay connected, he gained a better appreciation of how he could share his story.

At Beef Australia 2012, Mr Vella joined with Meat and Livestock Australia social media manager Matthew Dwyer to provide a snapshot of just how "getting social" can actually get people into conversation whether it is for personal or business pursuits.

For those livestock producers attending the MLA social media workshop, most were there to gain an insight into how they could become more pro-active in promoting their business, sharing opinions while also talking to real people across the broader community at virtually no cost.

Matthew Dwyer put the social media revolution into perspective by pointing out that in the past 60 seconds across the globe there were 700 Facebook messages, 175,000 tweets and 2 million YouTube videos being watched.

Another hub of information was the many blog platforms that were virtually an online diary accessed through Word Press, Blogger or Tumblr that enabled users to tell their story which could then be linked to Facebook or Twitter.

"There is no doubt that social media tools are relevant to business because of their growth, widespread adoption and usage coupled with the ease of connectivity that is already making a difference in global agriculture," Mr Dwyer said.

"For those with their social media L-plates, there is nothing to fear as you have the power to decide whom you want to share information with and have the option to converse with like-minded people through MLA or other farm group organisations.

"Twitter can best be described as a short sharp messaging system limited to 140 characters which can serve as an alert for coming events or be used by emergency services. Users can chose to just follow or participate in conversations or create a twitter opinion."

Mr Dwyer said three rural advocates, Danica Leys, Thomas Whitty and Sam Livingstone, had initiated a weekly twitter through #agchatoz every Tuesday from 8pm-10pm for anyone with an interest in rural Australia to discuss, debate and learn about wide ranging industry issues. Producers were also encouraged to join Target 100 which has focussed on 100 initiatives for the red meat industry to deliver sustainable farming by 2020.

Social media convert, Ray Vella is a third generation sugarcane and beef producer who manages the family's 7290 hectare Marlborough district breeding and finishing property, Bald Hills, purchased in 2000. The highly improved brigalow-softwood scrub country runs 3000 head using a Brahman-base breeding herd and a three-way Brangus, Simmental and Charolais bull joining program.

Mr Vella is passionate about setting the sustainability and profitability goals for the EU-accredited operation which turns of 560-600kg liveweight two-year-old steers direct to slaughter. He gained a 2012 Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarship to improve beef genetics and pasture management.

Mr Vella is an avid blogger who used the social media to share his experiences during a recent six week international tour of 14 countries with six felllow Nuffield scholars. He will now travel back to the US, Canada, Mexico and South Africa with a focus on the development and management of cost-effective, high nutrition dryland pasture.

"By using my blog connected to Facebook and Twitter with some YouTube videos, I was able to share my Nuffield experience every day based on key points of interest coupled with relevant photos," Mr Vella said.

"A reflection of just how far social media accessibility has influenced the rural sector was highlighted by Hudgins Ranch.

'This leading US Brahman breeding stud cattle business has been using YouTube to market its bulls and has increased sales by a massive 27 per cent through the online marketing initiative," Mr Vella said.

Seminar participants' views:

  • Kingaroy district cattle breeder Rosemary Balzer, Balrosa Bazadais, was attending her fourth Beef Australia expo with a current team of seven exhibits. Ms Balzer was attending the MLA social media workshop to upgrade her skills. "I do have a website and a personal Facebook account but realise that access to Twitter and blogging will be a major marketing tool to promote our stock," Ms Balzer said.
  • Dalby district Charolais exhibitor Jemma Postle, Branchview Charolais, said she was a Facebook user but was keen to learn how to use Twitter. "I believe Twitter will be an ideal avenue to promote our beef business and bridge the divide between agriculture and urban communities. As a strong advocate for rural industry, I will have an opportunity to put my viewpoint forward across the social media networks," Ms Postle said.

 

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