Ag Industries Must Enter Social Media In Force

Fodder for Thought

Pink slime debacle shows how poorly beef industry uses social media.

Published on: May 9, 2012

Over the weekend I read an article that summed up the current status of our industry. The article titled “Beef industry struggles to keep up with PR crises” hit the nail on the head with one particular quote from beef historian and author Maureen Ogle:

“They did exactly what they always do, which is really not much of anything. Frankly, they’re going to get killed from now on because of social media. It can do more damage in a day than old media used to be able to do in a month.”

Shortly after posting this on Facebook, a friend chimed in with her take on the situation. She spoke of her frustration during the LFTB debacle. In her words, “We as an industry really drop the ball.”

You see, my friend called her state beef council to seek guidance on how to approach the topic and also to see what was being done by her industry representatives.

Their answer: “We’re meeting with grocers and sending out fact sheets to schools. We’re a big part of the governor’s trip to BPI, etc.”

As my friend put it, none of that really matters if the mom buying groceries doesn’t want LFTB in her ground beef or her kid’s school lunch. These moms and other consumers are getting the majority of their information from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. What was the industry doing to reach out to her? Well, a whole lot of nothing.

To make matters worse my friend feels let down by the industry she was trying to defend. She describes her feelings: “It was a major wakeup call for me that until the beef industry changes, we’re basically on our own as agvocates when situations like pink slime occur.”

It’s sad to hear a fellow agvocate say this. But you know what? The truth hurts. Plain and simple, we as an industry need to get with the program. We may think we’re doing a pretty good job with social media but the truth is we’ve only uncovered the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a social media revolution overtaking business and changing the way people communicate with these businesses. Gone are the times of phone and email complaints. Welcome to the Twitterverse and the entire social realm! Now if consumers have an issue with your product their ire is instant, public and permanent.

If you aren’t considering social media strategy as part of your public relations and brand strategies, I highly recommend you start NOW.