Top 10 Takeaways from #AgCatalyst: Part 2

Earlier this week I shared Part 1 of my Top 10 Takeaways from the AgCatalyst social media conference in Minneapolis. If you missed Part 1, check it out here.

This was the second annual AgCatalyst conference, presented by AdFarm. This year’s theme was “It’s All About the Content” and featured various top-notch speakers from the agribusiness and food industries.

Here are my second five takeaways from AgCatalyst (in no particular order):

  1. Care First, Facts Later: Crystal Mackay (@CrystalMackay32), executive director of Farm & Food Care in Ontario, shared some great thoughts that really resonated with me. Crystal says most people want to have a conversation about food – not farming – but the conversation leads back to the farm. So when talking with urban consumers, lead with food and then proceed into farming. And we need to have these conversations with the people who are neutral, in other words, those who are on the fence regarding farming and food. Why? Because it’s these people who we’ll most likely be able to have a positive conversation with, whereas those people who are firm in their negative beliefs of food and farming will be harder to communicate with. When we’re having these conversations we need to “care first, facts later.” So often in the agriculture industry, we bombard consumers with the facts – the science. When in reality, most of them don’t care that much about the facts. Food is emotional for people. We need to appeal to them on a human level first by showing we care, and then follow-up with facts. Be empathic first, educational second. Crystal also made a good point about the First World – when people are full, they ask questions about their food. We have so much food in the First World that we have people criticizing it. I’m going to guess that people who are living in the Third World are probably just happy to have food and therefore they don’t criticize it.
  2. Get to Know Consumers: Janice Person (@JPLovesCotton), online engagement entrepreneur for Monsanto, says we know farmers, but do we know consumers? The world has changed and we now need to connect with consumers because they have questions about their food (related to Crystal’s thoughts above). And we can’t approach them with data (facts). We need consumer-focused content – share real, compelling stories. Invite people to experience (tour) our farms and meet the real farmers. Monsanto has created a separate website dedicated to consumers – Janice says everyone in agriculture has something to gain by making consumers more aware of where their food comes from.
  3. Blogging Tips: Kevin Hunt (@kevin_hunt), social media manager and global communications for General Mills, talked about how his company creates content and tells the General Mills story. Kevin shared some great blogging tips for company blogs: break some news; cover your events; have a point of view; showcase your employees; showcase your partners; showcase your customers; highlight your innovations; demonstrate your purpose; and have some fun. He also says you should ensure your content connects to your purpose. He recommends producing fewer pieces of better content. And ensure you’re always measuring, asking, how did we do?
  4. Trust is Born from Content: Jay Baer (@jaybaer), author and president of Convince and Convert, wrapped up the conference. Jay says we as consumers now need 10.4 sources before making a purchase. And these 10.4 sources are easy to find because we now have access to more sources than ever in our pants (our smartphones). This number of sources has gone up significantly in the past few years. Jay went on to say that content builds trust. So as consumers are reaching out to these sources of content, we need to ensure that we’re providing content that builds trust in our brands.
  5. Be Where the Action Is: Jay also shared another compelling stat – 85% of our online time is spent on 15 websites or less. Reflecting on my personal life, this is definitely true. I visit no more than 15 websites (probably less than that) on a regular basis. And those websites are all saved into my Favourites. Your company needs to strive to be among the Favourites. A go-to place where people can learn about agriculture, farming and food. We need to be where the conversations about food and farming are taking place. The ag industry needs to be listening and responding to these conversations with consumers.
Highlight of my week was meeting Jay Baer at the conference. I've read his marketing book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype.
Highlight of my week was meeting Jay Baer at the conference. I’ve read his marketing book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype.

Those are my Top 10 Takeaways from the AgCatalyst conference. I hope you learned something new and interesting. And as always, please feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading!


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