Archive for October, 2009

A Snowy State Resolutions Committee

With record snowfall for this early in the winter season, State Resolutions Committee was a small meeting this year. With just under 20 members present in addition to the Board of Directors, the attendance was not what it usually is. However districts were well represented as there were representatives from as far away as La Plata, Yuma and Mesa County.

Those present were treated to a lunch featuring homemade Green Chili made by Regional Managers Ron Brink and Richard Connell as well as a great view of south Denver covered in at least a foot of snow.

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Reminder, Turn Your Clocks Back on Sunday

On November 1 at 2 AM local time, clocks should be set back one hour (to 1 AM local time) to switch from DST to Standard Time. (This does not apply to parts of the United States not observing DST.)

Before 2007, older rules had DST beginning later in the spring, and ending earlier in autumn. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 implemented new rules effective in 2007 to save energy by beginning DST on the second Sunday of March and returning to Standard Time on the first Sunday in November, increasing the period of Daylight Saving Time by four weeks most years.

Whole New (Search) World

Twitter’s deal with Google opens up the web to Ag’s message

twitter-bird-logoMuch has been written about the recent deal inked between Twitter and Google that will allow the search giant to include tweets in search results.

Obviously the public nature of tweets lends itself to search and imbedded social media results within each Google search – much like ‘image’ or ‘news’ searches are currently displayed – will add tremendous value to the space. No doubt that any marketers still fence-sitting about the value of Twitter will now be forced to jump in.

For Ag users, the deal has significant impact on the scope and reach of our online message.

  • While Twitters explosive growth has been more than enough reason for agriculturalists to adopt the platform, it has its limits. Twitters traffic is roughly 14-18 million visitors per month, however eMarketer estimates that there are only 6 million registered users. This represents only about 3.8% of people on the Internet.
  • Google’s social search feature will help break down the barrier between the Twitterverse and the rest of the internet. No longer will Ag related RT’s and tagged tweets simply bounce around inside the #farm or #agchat bubble. They will have direct access to the general internet public.
  • Twitter users now have greater power to directly and organically impact search results. This means that despite large SEO budgets directly controlling search rankings, individual users will have the ability to logroll content and deliver what’s really important.
  • Twitter will continue to become less of a destination and more of a presence on the web. (3rd party clients, search)

The deal should have an impact on the way you tweet. If Ag professionals don’t change the way they use Twitter to reflect the newly broadened horizons opened up by Google, they will be missing out on having impactful and insightful messages reach a larger set of eyes on the broader internet. Users should consider several areas that they can change and ‘tweak’ the way they use the space.

Takeaways

  • More focus on relevant search terms beyond hashtags.

In order to improve search rankings and visibility, bloggers focus on using of common search terms in their writing and reuse them often. Twitter users should now think twice before shortening valuable search terms and /or relying on hashtags too much. Use terms that the general public will use when seeking information on a specific topic. We may like to use animal wellbeing, but the public is searching for animal welfare.

  • Trending topics have the potential to greatly influence search results.

Ag users have shown that they can successfully influence the conversation on Twitter. The recent trending topics #oink and #moo were successful in focusing a broad conversation about Ag within the space. Users should expect trending topics to break out of the space and return results within a Google search. Supporting documentation and information should be in place before any organized attempt to trend a topic.

  • Social relevance will be more important to a successful Twitter campaign than before.

Engaging and more importantly ‘real’ Twitter personalities will become more important now that tweets will reach the broader web. We already know that consumers have virtually no trust in corporate (read, lifeless) blogs. We also know that users feel that same way about Twitter accounts that do nothing but promote a groups latest news release. Tweeps should remember to give their stream some life from time to time, and organizations should consider developing companion accounts that compliment the organizations feed with personal tweets.

With a little forethought, Twitter users will easily cultivate a strong following on the web and even among those who have never visited the site. Real time updates and conversational topics will become central to internet search. Ag users have the ability to continue to leverage the power of Twitter to reach millions of viewers with our message and engage with them on a more personal level. It will simply require a re-thinking about the way we use the tools currently at our disposal.

Update:

Thanks to @Mica_MON and @RayLinDairy for adding to the conversation and bringing up the following points. I had not thought about this at all and I thank them for their thoughts. You can find their entire posts in the comments section.

@Mica_MON – “I also think there are lessons for us in the types of people we engage on Twitter. What conversations are going to be useful for the broader Internet user to learn about agriculture? When we get into a heated exchange with an organic/local/food activist are we communicating in a professional manner? Do those converastions provide the type of information/knowledge we want people to have?”

I would agree wholeheartedly. I would also add that the potential for Ag users to look bad in the eyes of readers when engaging in these types of exchanges increases exponentially due to the nature of the medium. Unlike comments on blog posts, Twitter conversations are not threaded and therefore the opportunity for searchers to take tweets out of context is greater. Users should try to embed a message or grow a relationship with every conversational tweet and make their comments as clear as possible. If you can, incorporate questions into answers and make good use of “Re:”

@RayLinDairy – …we in AG need to get back in the relationship game. With SM we have gone too far to the propaganda/politics side and need to readjust.

This goes somewhat to the previous point, and there is not time like now to readjust. We as Ag users should re-evaluate who we have conversations with and what those conversations are about. I think both crop and livestock users can all identify several @’s on the opposite side of the aisle that are no longer worth engaging with, especially now that our words are open to the entire web. Focus more on casual users as opposed to agenda users. Build relationships and have conversations that you wouldn’t mind your preacher reading!

China Reopens Market to U.S. Pork, Live Swine

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that China intends to reopen its market to U.S. pork and live swine, consistent with science-based international standards. The announcement was made at the conclusion of meetings with Chinese officials at the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Hangzhou, China.

“Two-way trade of agricultural, fish and forest products between the U.S. and China has grown in recent years to over $21 billion per year, opening increasingly important connections that can benefit farmers, ranchers and consumers in both countries,” said Vilsack. “China’s intent to remove its H1N1-related ban on U.S. pork marks an important step forward in cooperation between the countries on agriculture issues.”

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Gas Prices Will Climb 77 Cents Under Boxer/Kerry

Bill Klesse, president and CEO of Valero Energy Corp., said the Boxer-Kerry climate change bill could increase the price of a gallon of gasoline by 77 cents. In testimony Wednesday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on behalf of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, Klesse said the bill would be “devastating” for the U.S. refinery business.

Kleese said that Valero and other refiners would be forced to close some U.S. plants if the bill in its current form becomes law. “One of our chief concerns is that this legislation provides foreign refiners and petrochemical operations a competitive advantage to American businesses,” Klesse testified.

AFBF Discussion Meet Video

As YF&R Members plan for the Discussion Meet competition at State Annual Meeting in November, Thr Pulse would like to provide this great resource to help them in their preparations. The below video is the final round of the AFBF Discussion Meet competition at the 2009 AFBF annual Meeting in San Antonio.

Mark Arnusch’s second place finish provides members with a great resource and example of what a winning Discussion Meet should look like. Enjoy!

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “AFBF Discussion Meet“, posted with vodpod

 

Mule-Headed Bunch of Farmers…

Actor and political fundraiser, Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman says Mississippi is “starving” for the right leadership, so the actor is using his celebrity status to help his friend run for governor in 2011. Freeman has written a fundraising letter and is one of the hosts for a cocktail party in Los Angeles next week for Bill Luckett, an attorney seeking the Democratic nomination. Term limits prevent Republican Gov. Haley Barbour from seeking a third term.

“Reform in Mississippi is hard because the base stock of this state is a mule-headed bunch of farmers,” Freeman told The Associated Press on Sunday. “Those farmers have ruled the roost for so long because this is an agricultural state.”

Mississippi Farm Bureau President David Waide said in a letter in response to Mr. Freeman’s comments that,

 

Mississippi Farm Bureau President, David Waide

“I was greatly disappointed in Morgan Freeman’s recent comments referring to the base stock of this state as a ‘mule-headed bunch of farmers.’ I think Mr. Freeman is very shortsighted when he refers to the progress that has been made in Mississippi and to the bulk of the population as being agricultural.

 

“I would remind Mr. Freeman that, as the result of the farmers of this state and nation, the food we consume requires less than one-tenth of our take-home pay to purchase. I would also remind Mr. Freeman that, as a result of the American farmer, instead of 50 percent of our population being involved in the labor force to produce the food and fiber we consume, less than 1.5 percent of the population is required in agriculture’s workforce today. And we are still able to export more than 30 percent of the production from this nation’s farms, which is a tremendous help in balancing our foreign trade deficit.”

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