The opportunities presented by webinars to connect people across Australia with experts vast distances away was underlined by the popularity of last Thursday’s first BeefConnect webinar, conducted as part of a new partnership between Future Beef and Beef Central.
The web-based seminar featured presentations from Meat & Livestock Australia online manager Matthew Dwyer in Sydney, Feast Fine Foods marketing manager Vince Minervini in Adelaide and AgChatOz co-founder Sam Livingstone in Canberra, who each offered advice on how people in the beef industry can “beef up” their Twitter effectiveness.
A total of 322 people registered for the webinar.
Between them they generated 230 tweets, which caused the #beefconnect hashtag to become the number one Twitter trending topic in Australia.
Webinars offer a unique platform for people in rural and regional areas to learn from and interact with experts on important topics, and to do so from wherever they are, such as via their computer at home or mobile device while travelling or working in the paddock.
In last Thursday's webinar participants listened-in live and viewed real-time slideshows as each presenter spoke, and were able to interact by typing in questions and by voting in polls presented during the event.
The “How to Beef Up your Twitter Effectiveness’ webinar was the first in what will be an ongoing series of regular BeefConnect webinars hosted by Future Beef and Beef Central.
"We hope that through strengthening these connections, it will help to stimulate innovation and make the Australian beef industry even more profitable and sustainable,” John James from FutureBeef explained.
Participants were drawn from across Australia and internationally, with a poll conducted during the webinar showing that 43pc were from Queensland, 22pc from NSW/ACT, 16pc from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, 12pc from NT and WA and 7pc from overseas, including Indonesia and New Zealand.
46pc were people who had never used Twitter before, 33pc said they rarely used Twitter and 21pc said they were regular Twitter users.
What is Twitter?
Meat & Livestock Australia’s online manager Matthew Dwyer began the presentations with an overview of how Twitter works.
He described Twitter as a text-based messaging system, where users can post messages that must be no longer than 140 characters in length.
Signing up was a simple process of creating a username and password, and developing a short 140 character ‘bio’ to let other users know who you are, where you are and what your interests are.
The next step was to search for people or organisations they wished to follow, and to search for hashtags that pulled together other conversations and messages around particular topics of interest (a “hashtag” is a topic preceded by a hashtag symbol such as #liveexport #beef #animalwelfare. Typing a hashtag into the search box brings up messages from the Twittersphere related to that topic).
People used Twitter for a range of reasons, Mr Dwyer said, including as a “curated news feed”, in which users followed others or organisations that provided news and information on topics of specific relevance to their interests.
People also used Twitter to pass along information, to engage in conversations with others, and to promote their industry, product or service, while some simply used the platform to engage in "pointless blabber", such as what they ate for lunch.
Twitter also provides users with continuous recommendations on who to follow, and a running list of hashtag topics that are “trending” (generating the most discussion) at any given time in their local region or country.
The webinar was also told that a range of free programs/ apps are available to help tweeps manage their Twitter feeds such as tweetdeck, hootsuite and tweetchat.
Why use Twitter in the beef industry?
Mr Dwyer said Twitter provided opportunities for members of the beef industry to share information to improve their businesses, and to advocate and promote the industry to the urban community.
“In the beef industry, when we go somewhere where we all connect, we like to talk and in that way we like to let others know what we think, because we’re passionate about what we do and letting people know how we do it,” Mr Dwyer said.
“Also as an industry we’re thirsty for information and knowledge to make ourselves better and Twitter is perfect to give information and to receive information.”
With research showing that 70pc of urban consumers wanted to learn more about how their beef is produced, Twitter provided an excellent platform to fill that information void.
Feast Fine Foods
Vince Minervini from Feast Fine Foods provided a case study on how Twitter is being used in a vertically integrated meat business.
Feast Fine Foods is a family farming operation owned by the Gunner family that moved into the meat business in 2001. The company now includes five Feast Fine Food retail outlets in South Australia.
Mr Minervini said Twitter played different roles for different sectors of the business.
From a producer perspective it was used to access a personalised news feed with information of relevance to the farming businesses, while Twitter also allowed producers to connect to city consumers by telling “our message our way”.
“From a retailers perspective we use Twitter under the idenitity of @feastfinefoods to answer customer questions and to communicate what is happening in our business.
“And with our customers wanting to know what to buy we can also use it to broadcast a message and link it back to our website, which gives consumers a better understanding.
“From a wholesale perspective we can see what our chefs are up to, we can transmit ideas, they can communicate with us in real time, and then react quickly to industry trends and what is happening.”
10 Top Twitter Tips from AgChatOz
Established three years ago, AgChatOz has become a cornerstone of agricultural involvement in Twitter in Australia.
AgChatOz is simply an online community for Australians interested in agriculture.
People can join the community by following @AgChatOz. Tweets and conversations involving the community can be viewed by typing #agchatoz into the Twitter searchbox, while users can engage in conversations by including the #agchatoz hashtag in their tweets.
AgChatOz hosts a weekly forum on Twitter at 8pm AEST every Tuesday where participants can answer and discuss six to eight questions on a chosen topic of interest. Questions to be asked each Tuesday night are posted on the AgChatOz facebook page and website every Tuesday morning.
AgChatOz co-founder Sam Livingstone said Twitter offered an ideal platform for this type of communication because the 140 character limit forced people to be concise and to get their point across.
He provided 10 practical tips on how others can make the most of their time on the social media platform:
1 – Fill out your bio properly
2 – Get involved
3 – Be yourself
4 – Engage with people, even if you don’t know them
5 – Share the farm with your followers by taking pictures and videos or what you do
6 – Remember that social media is a two-way street
7 – Go along to tweetups (Events where you can meet fellow Tweeters in real life, including dedicated Twitter events and industry conferences)
8 – Social media is what you make it
9 – Ask for help – if you need it, there are many Twitter users willing to help you
10 – Have fun!
Keep an eye out for upcoming BeefConnect webinars, and if you would like to suggest a topic for a future webinar, please email us at email@example.com
- The FutureBeef website is a one stop shop for beef information across northern Australia. You can subscribe to the FutureBeef eBulletin service to keep up-to-date with news and activities by clicking here.
- A reminder that Beef Central readers can also register to receive a free email with all of our daily news headlines by clicking here
- FURTHER RESOURCE LINKS: ‘How to set up a Twitter account’ (https://twitter.com/signup), TweetDeck (http://tweetdeck.com/) TweetChat (www.tweetchat.com) & HootSuite (www.hootsuite.com).