Farmers use of social media

Farmers use of social media
Farmers use of social media

Farmers use of social media

The digital world has changed how we connect with farmers

These days it seems as though the options in the digital landscape are endless. Whether the goal is to make a purchase, obtain information or simply communicate with other industry folks, the path to take can be more sensory overload than opportunity and overwhelming at best. Is there any value to this social media connectivity and a way to optimize it? Furthermore, can we in ag still find a reason to encourage it?

The answer is a resounding yes, even if it takes some arm-twisting.

In 2016 on our Marketing to Farmers blog, we published Understanding how farmers use social media can improve your marketing, and those points have long resonated with our audience. Social media isn’t going anywhere and, if anything, has only increased in importance as a marketing tool and communications medium. What has frequently been viewed as an app or gadget for younger generations is now actively used by all generations in all industries. Peek at Twitter and you will notice how it is the primary means of chatter for every major news outlet, political figure and brand name in industry. Similarly, Instagram uses photography to show off advertising the latest products, corporate headshots and everything in between. Likewise, Instagram, which wasn’t included in our data last time, has now outpaced other social media channels on use. The source itself notes that up to 80 percent of its users are engaged with businesses on the platform. And then there are the old standbys, YouTube and Facebook, still strong in the social media landscape and actively pursued by advertisers and newcomers alike.

Creating Virtual Social Communities

Though these platforms aren’t new, what they all have in common is the ability for farmers to participate in Virtual Social Communities (VSC). VSCs provide for an environment where the farmer can easily and interactively communicate with a brand through likes, follows, comments and shares of the brand’s content. This welcomes them into the brand’s community and establishes a level of trust, as well as opens a dialogue and invites a relationship, thereby initiating the customer journey. It also offers a climate of camaraderie for those participants who are engaged with the brand.

These communities exist throughout all of social media, however one example, AgFuse, demonstrates the VSC model as a free tool that connects over 4,300 farmers, agribusiness professionals and organizations, with the goal to network, educate, promote products and gain valuable resources. Like Facebook but specifically for ag, this is the optimal way to both introduce and integrate within the intended community.

A Look at the Data

While fresh blood like AgFuse are bringing these VSCs directly to the farmers, the platforms most popular with farmers have varied little since we last checked the stats. Reflecting on the data we presented in our previous post and comparing it to the most current data provided by our source, Meredith Agrimedia’s Successful Farming, the below example shows that, with relatively minor fluctuation, YouTube is still leading the charge (most current data provided from 2017). Farmers continue to use YouTube primarily for its instructional purposes.

digital changes social platform usage

A June 2019 Pew Research Social Media Fact Sheet revealed some rural social stats.

% of Rural U.S. adults who use each social media platform:

  • Facebook – 66%
  • Instagram – 21%
  • LinkedIn – 10%

This chart from the same Pew study shows the growth over time.

Growth of social use

We also know that even though social media is used less than traditional media, there are a variety of reasons that farmers use it. Below shows the most common reasons why farmers use social media, although worth noting is that a specific social media platform is not indicated.

VSCs are the portal for farmers connecting with other farmers, with Extension educators to answer questions and with brand reps to learn about products and get support, in addition to awareness about promotions, and these other key purposes for seeking out networks attached to brands. It remains to be seen how the current platforms will evolve with farmers and if new technologies will develop.

We encourage you to consider how your platforms support your brands and the ways in which VSCs are developed.

  • Do farmers actively participate in the online conversations that occur?
  • Does there exist the essence of an online community between the brand, farmers and your agribusiness counterparts?
  • Do you feel as though engagement is created virtually and can transition to reality?

Because that is the success of engagement, the VSC and goal of the customer journey.

A version of this article first appeared in our Marketing to Farmers blog.

Marketing to Farmers blog

Diane Martin and Jeff Walter grew up around farming—in their professional and personal lives. Each week, they tap into their vast experience and provide marketing insights to brands seeking strong connections with farmers. Go to site »

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Focus on metrics when marketing to farmers

Focus on Metrics
Focus on metrics when marketing to farmers

Focus on metrics when marketing to farmers

Plan what to measure and know how you’ll do it

Venturing into any marketing campaign without a clear plan to measure success is a bad investment. In addition to measuring success against your marketing objectives, digital channels have made it easier than ever to measure the success of your tactics.

But there are challenges to using digital channels to measure your success. The universe of farmers is limited, and available targeting seems insufficient in the endless ocean of the internet.

Using agricultural websites is a natural choice for reaching farmers. However, farmers are like other consumers in their consumption of online content. Besides using the internet to do work, farmers utilize it for entertainment, information, and connection. There are non-ag places to reach farmers. To find those channels, you must make the analysis of results as important as the creative itself.

Additionally, traditional media is difficult to measure and results often take time to come in.  For digital, measurement is often available instantaneously. And the volume of data is so large and so varied that learning to manage and read it has literally become a new occupation.

Plan to Measure

When planning a digital campaign, you must define the outcomes you’ll measure to judge success. You’ll also need to make sure it’s possible to measure tactics in the way you hope:

  • Does the publisher track the activity you want measured?
  • If you use an ad server, is your campaign set up to capture the data you need? Across all channels and tactics?
  • Do you have the expertise to analyze it and draw conclusions upon the data from which you are seeking?
  • Will your metrics inform both your measurement objectives and your campaign objectives?

The importance of metrics increases when you consider that various digital channels come from different strategic needs.

Measure to Plan

A campaign may ultimately want farmers to watch a video for information on a product. That campaign may use search, email, social, and display to drive farmers to the video. Each of those four channels has different standard measurements. When you put your money behind any of them, what immediate outcome will justify the expense? Just as important, will what you learn from the outcomes be useful for future decisions on tactics? If so, the investment can live beyond the immediate campaign.

So far, this may all seem obvious. Make no mistake; failing to develop a strategy for measuring success is one of the most common mistakes in digital marketing. Impressions are purchased, ads run, clicks counted, visits recorded, engagement tracked. But the results don’t really shed light on what you should do next.

The opportunities for marketing to farmers are multiplying, fast. Plan on testing new tactics, but commit to testing each one on the value delivered. It’s tempting to assume you’ll find insights in the data that comes rushing back. Don’t assume! Map out your measurement strategy and ensure the numbers provide answers to your questions.

A version of this article first appeared in our Marketing to Farmers blog.

Marketing to Farmers blog

Diane Martin and Jeff Walter grew up around farming—in their professional and personal lives. Each week, they tap into their vast experience and provide marketing insights to brands seeking strong connections with farmers. Go to site »

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AgTech Nexus offers glimpse of tech future

AgTech Nexus offers glimpse of tech future
AgTech Nexus offers glimpse of tech future

AgTech Nexus offers glimpse of tech future

From nitrogen-applying robots to CRISPR enhanced produce with extended shelf life: what’s trending in ag tech?

This past July, Marketing to Farmers was honored to be included as a partner in Chicago’s first AgTech Nexus USA.  As well, Rhea + Kaiser President and CIO Jeff Walter moderated the conference’s Innovation Showcase, discussing the newest items on the market and the importance of bringing farmers into the ag tech developmental process, well ahead of marketing the products to them.

One of the cornerstones of Marketing to Farmers isn’t just what we present to others and showcasing our knowledge, but what we learn from our peers by engaging with other professionals in the field. This is our continuing education and we’re always learning.

And one of the key points to launch AgTech Nexus was how ag tech is defined. Ag tech tends to be defined in a very narrow and one-dimensional manner, literally surrounded by the electric or digital mechanics of technology. And though the digital and mechanical portion of it is often integrated, what we discovered is that the context of technology takes many forms, far beyond our original perception.

Literature provided by AgTech Nexus, Global Ag Investing, defines ag tech within the following categories:

  • Plant health and nutrition – this includes novel plant biologicals, breeding techniques, soil amendments, bio-stimulants and bio-pesticides
  • Animal health and nutrition – this includes animal disease vaccines and medicines, new animal feeds, genetic makeup and livestock management
  • Equipment and data – this includes aerial monitoring, precision agriculture, agricultural equipment linked by the internet, big data and data analysis
  • Food technology – includes cultured meat, novel ingredients, plant-based proteins, food safety, new production methods and agricultural marketplace

This means that the concept of technology is not limited to hardware, software and new chemical or biological solutions, but it is the entire process of developing and delivering such products to the marketplace.

As any of these technologies scale and come to market, they rely on multiple systems to properly integrate and provide value and ease of use, which inserts questions of compatibility, data syncing, cost and separate proprietary entities that must link with one another. Ultimately, there exists the desire for a centralized system to bring everything together in one overarching digital farm management structure that does not yet exist.  However, with the limitations of broadband that are still a challenge for many farmers, one overarching system could also be too much.

AgTech Nexus also gave us a peek into the trends. There is a heavy influence on environmental sustainability and technology that influences behavior modification. So, we saw continuing interest and utilization of drones and their ability to capture greater amounts of data in a timelier fashion, as well as the ability to collect images, map and analyze information that is used for disease identification, weather impact, and other crop decision making.

We also saw an impressive amount of new technology surrounding robotics. There are robots that harvest; those that sort and package fruit; variations used for identifying and spraying of fertilizers and herbicides (depending on the plant); weed smashers; and technology that literally moves rocks. As well, many of these robots use solar power, are self-driving, built stronger and are made with parts that are easier to replace. The machines are intended to work harder and last longer, with fewer replacements.

The biggest question of AgTech Nexus and in moving forward in the ag tech sector is the value of the investment. To what point is this new technology worth the time and financial input? There are few instruments and objects that aren’t worth the investment but are more a question of necessity. As marketers, we must find the value of necessity in these products and learn how either they will be compatible with an overarching system of digital farm management or have enough of a unique purpose and function that the potential lack of compatibility will not be a limitation.

As we continue our partnership with AgTech Nexus, we look forward to the developments and progress in all of the products and projects we had the opportunity to explore during our time there. The process of bringing technology in any capacity to market is long and enduring, but we are excited to have a glimpse into what’s on the ag tech horizon.

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R+K partners with AgTech Nexus USA in Chicago

R+K partners with AgTech Nexus USA in Chicago

Agency President and CIO Jeff Walter to moderate conference’s Innovation Spotlight

With Chicago quickly becoming a hotbed of technology, it’s a welcome surprise that AgTech Nexus USA is making their Midwestern debut and hosting their conference series in our own backyard. Perched on the cusp of industrial advancement and the gateway to agricultural production, this combination of a tech hub situated in the midst of a modern farming operation creates opportunities for both farmers and startups alike.

The July 22-23 event, which traditionally draws the likes of venture capital investors and agribusiness executives, features workshops including How Ag Tech Has Increased Efficiency in Row Crop Production; Investor Perspectives: Which Technologies are Ready to Scale and a Keynote Executive Interview: The Role of the American Midwest in Shaping the Future of Global Agriculture, as well as a panel discussion on The Bridge Between Sustainability and Profitability. Ultimately, it’s a dynamic approach to the marriage of ag and tech and all that it encompasses.

This year, Rhea + Kaiser and Marketing to Farmers are delighted to be participants in AgTech Nexus. On Tuesday, July 23, R+K’s President and Chief Integration Officer Jeff Walter will be moderating the Innovation Spotlight: Fostering the Next Generation of AgTech Entrepreneurs. The panel will provide the audience with an opportunity to learn more about the millennial ag tech market, the obstacles they have faced, gains they are earning and how they are changing the game through their everyday practice.

“We’re really excited to be able to partner with AgTech Nexus. We’re so passionate about the ag tech space and how our clients are integrated with it. To be able to see the foundations of tech from the beginning and hear feedback from and have that interaction with farmers and producers is an opportunity that we could not pass up,” said Walter.

This year’s event includes hands-on demonstrations and exhibitions, which provide an opportunity to see and experience technology as it’s happening. In addition to investors and technology and agribusiness executives, AgTech Nexus welcomes farmers and producers to get a broad audience perspective and to gauge how technology is disrupting ag across the board. More than that, it’s looking forward to a productive event that explores the ag tech conversation in a compelling and progressive manner, which gets to the heart of issues facing farmers and producers and how ag tech is part and parcel to their solutions.

R+K is proud to be a partner for this event, co-hosted by AgTech Nexus and the Illinois Soybean Association. We thank them for the opportunity to bring this event to the forefront of Midwest ag marketers and producers.

To participate in AgTech Nexus, click here to register and be sure to use the discount code RK15 to save 15% on your registration fees.

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R+K announces changes in executive management

R+K new executive management
R+K new executive management

R+K announces changes in executive management

New roles effective August 1

Rhea + Kaiser announced today new executive management positions that will go into effect on August 1.

Diane Martin, who has been with R+K for more than 30 years and president/CEO since 2010, is stepping into the newly created role of Chief Strategy Officer.

“Earlier this year, we announced we are restructuring Rhea + Kaiser to better meet the needs of our clients and to give our staff more opportunities,” Martin said. “Looking at how everything works, including executive management, is part of that restructuring. This is a natural evolution for the agency, and one we’re very excited to implement.”

Effective August 1:

Diane Martin President/CEO at Rhea+Kaiser

As Chief Strategy Officer, Martin will assist executive management with client, prospective client and agency strategy. This includes formalizing the agency’s communications planning processes, evaluating strategic planning tools and identifying resources.

Stephanie Heusuk Chief Operating Officer at Rhea+Kaiser

Current Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Heusuk will take on the responsibility of Chief Executive Officer, responsible for the long-range planning and sustainability of the agency. A 22-year R+K veteran, Heusuk started at R+K in account management, leading healthcare and commercial banking accounts. She has been Chief Operating Officer since 2010.

Jeff Walter Executive Director of Account Management and Planning at Rhea+Kaiser

Jeff Walter will move into the newly created role of President/Chief Integration Officer. Currently the SVP/Executive Director of agency management and planning, Walter’s new role will include ensuring integrated teams and integrated services across all agency business.

Angel Kelpsas

Angel Kelpsas, current Director of Finance, will become the Chief Financial officer. In addition to financial management, Kelpsas’ responsibilities will include oversight of compliance with government regulations, human resources, business technology and facilities management.

Steve Rhea, owner and co-founder of Rhea + Kaiser, will remain as Chairman of the Board.

“I’m excited to see the continued evolution of Rhea + Kaiser and I think we have a bright future,” Rhea said. “We repeatedly hear companies say they need agencies to be more nimble and flexible while still delivering smart, integrated solutions. This restructure helps us deliver just that kind of practice for clients.”

Martin added that this change will be a shift for her outside of the office, too.

“Personally, this opportunity also lets me focus on areas of most interest to me. In the office, that’s strategy. Outside of the office, it’s a chance to spend more time with my husband and grandchildren. They have always been patient with me, but especially over the last nine years.” Martin said. “I might be stepping down from my role at Rhea + Kaiser, but I’m definitely not stepping out of R+K.”

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R+K promotes two

R+K promotes Patty Blystone and Michelle Nickrent
R+K promotes Patty Blystone and Michelle Nickrent

R+K promotes two

Agency continues to boost professional development

Rhea + Kaiser announces the promotions of Patty Blystone to Senior Accountant and Michelle Nickrent to Account Manager, Public Relations.

Patty Blystone promoted to Senior Accountant

Patty Blystone has been contributing to the success of R+K since 2012. Her responsibilities include accounts receivable, accounts payable, and client invoicing, in addition to billing and reporting for R+K’s video production facilities. In her promotion, she will now take on the agency’s Bayer account, as well as reporting and coordinating with the agency’s Account Management + Planning department.

“Patty’s willingness to take on new tasks and master them, her dedication to accuracy, her always helpful attitude and her many professional skills make this a very merited promotion,” said Director of Finance Angel Kelpsas. 

Michelle Nickrent promoted to Account Manager, Public Relations

Michelle Nickrent recently celebrated her second year at R+K. Michelle joined R+K as a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She quickly took on responsibilities within the agency’s Bayer account in their Cereals and Horticulture divisions, as well as coordinating Bayer’s Grain for Good program and running R+K’s Farm and Food Kids Camp. In addition to pitching and arranging interviews, Michelle produces content, maintains client communications and will now take the lead on internal and client-facing projects and initiatives.

“Michelle has embraced cross-department integration. She exhibits an eagerness to learn that one doesn’t often see. With her infectious laugh, positive attitude and ability to talk with anyone, she is also one of the most receptive people I have ever met,” said Associate Public Relations Director Amy McEvoy.

Congratulations to both Patty and Michelle!

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R+K wins regional agrimarketing awards

Best of NAMA Regional Awards
Best of NAMA Regional Awards

R+K wins regional agrimarketing awards

Agency recognized for advertising, public relations and digital excellence

Rhea + Kaiser has earned recognition for client and agency work from the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA). The agency recently received regional Best of NAMA awards in the areas of advertising, digital and public relations.

“It is always an honor to receive awards for great work, but it is even more so when it comes from your industry peers,” noted R+K President/CEO Diane Martin. “We’re particularly proud to see recognition for our digital and social media campaigns, as that is an area of more recent growth for R+K. We’re also really happy to see acknowledgement across our clientele.”

The agency earned first place and merit awards for the following:

CATEGORY COMPANY ENTRY TITLE
Radio Ad – Series Bayer Delaro “Raise the Bar” Radio Series
Television Ad –Single or Series Bayer Delaro “Raise the Bar” TV Commercial
Direct Mail – Directed at Farmers, Growers and Ranchers – three dimensional Bayer Cotton/Soy One-to-One Direct Mail
Corporate Identity Bayer Delta First Logo
Advertising to Agribusiness NAMA NAMA Region IV Best of NAMA Awards Show Creative Campaign
Media Relations Bayer Lubbock Showcase
Events – Customer Bayer FiberMax One Ton Club/FiberMax Maximizer Club Events
Events – Customer Bayer Stoneville Legacy Club
Events – Internal Rhea + Kaiser Rhea + Kaiser Recharge
Internet Website FS FS System Website
Social Tactic Teralytic Teralytic Social Campaign

Category: Radio Ad – Series
Company: Bayer
Entry Title: Delaro “Raise the Bar” Radio Series

Category: Television Ad –Single or Series
Company: Bayer
Entry Title: Delaro “Raise the Bar” TV Commercial

Category: Direct Mail – Directed at Farmers, Growers and Ranchers – three dimensional
Company: Bayer
Entry Title: Cotton/Soy One-to-One Direct Mail

Category: Corporate Identity
Company: Bayer
Entry Title: Delta First Logo

Category: Advertising to Agribusiness
Company: NAMA
Entry Title: Region IV Best of NAMA Awards Show Creative Campaign

Category: Media Relations
Company: Bayer
Entry Title: Lubbock Showcase

Category: Events – Customer
Company: Bayer
Entry Title: FiberMax One Ton Club/FiberMax Maximizer Club Events

Category: Events – Customer
Company: Bayer
Entry Title: Stoneville Legacy Club

Category: Events – Internal
Company: Rhea + Kaiser
Entry Title: Rhea + Kaiser Recharge

Category: Internet Website
Company: FS
Entry Title: FS System Website

Category: Social Tactic
Company: Teralytic
Entry Title: Teralytic Social Campaign

The annual Best of NAMA awards honor the best in agricultural communications for the past year. Awards are presented across six regions and in 62 categories covering advertising, public relations and digital for agribusiness and non-agribusiness audiences. Regional first place and merit winners are eligible for national Best of NAMA awards. NAMA will announce the national awards during its annual Agri-Marketing Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, April 10-12, 2019.

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R+K invests in business development director

Gino Tomaro - Business Development Director
Gino Tomaro - Business Development Director

R+K invests in business development director

Position primed to boost account growth

Rhea + Kaiser welcomes Gino Tomaro as Business Development Director. 

Gino will manage R+K’s new business process and efforts from end-to-end to secure new accounts, while also working collaboratively across the agency to help our current clients move their business forward.

“Gino brings strategy, integrated marketing and a solid understanding of metrics orientation, which align nicely with R+K’s strengths,” said R+K President and CEO Diane Martin. “But we’re possibly even more excited about his energy, collaborative approach, proactive nature and his we-win-together attitude.”

Gino joins R+K from previous business development roles at LKH&S Advertising, Tribal Knowledge Marketing and SCHAWK!. He also brings a solid account management background from his roles at Maddock Douglas, MARC USA, Campbell Mithun and Italia Advertising. He has worked with brands such as Carrier/Bryant HVAC, Case New Holland, Kmart, GE Lighting, Moen and Sears.

R+K Media Team Advances in Media Buying and Planning

Debbie Cozzi - Media Buyer and Sarah Sikorski - Digital Media Planner/Buyer
Debbie Cozzi - Media Buyer and Sarah Sikorski - Digital Media Planner/Buyer

R+K Media Team Advances in Media Buying and Planning

Agency continues to advance digital development for clients through tech expertise

Rhea + Kaiser has added Debbie Cozzi to its Media team as a Media Buyer and promoted Sarah Sikorski to Digital Media Planner/Buyer. 

Debbie Cozzi - Media Buyer

Cozzi is a veteran media planner and buyer who has spent parts of the past two years as a freelance media buyer for the agency. Prior to joining R+K full-time, Cozzi was a long-time media planner/buyer for Brian Keith Advertising.
“Debbie is a seasoned media professional and a real asset to our media team and the R+K family,” said R+K Media Activation Director Michael Hurt.

Sarah Sikorski - Digital Media Planner/Buyer

Rhea + Kaiser also congratulates Sarah Sikorski on her promotion to Digital Media Planner/Buyer. Sarah began at R+K in April 2017 as a Digital Media Coordinator. Since then, she has grown the digital media department to own R+K’s in-house expertise and knowledge around digital ad specs, capabilities and available formats for clients. She will be responsible for assisting the agency’s planners and analytics team with client campaign analysis and recommendations, as well as supporting plan strategy and recommendations.

“This promotion results from a clear need to recognize Sarah’s great work, obvious smarts, amazing productivity and the very high value we place on all she’s done for the agency,” said Associate Media Director, Grant Cassiday.

R+K Welcomes three to growing roster

Three new hires at Rhea + Kaiser
Three new hires at Rhea + Kaiser

R+K Welcomes three to growing roster

Agency talent continues to develop

Rhea + Kaiser welcomes Account Supervisor Cheryl Winkelman, Senior Copywriter Ryann Flynn and Public Relations Assistant Account Manager Erica Ballmer.

Cheryl Winkelman

Agency veteran Cheryl Winkelman has returned to R+K as an Account Supervisor, Account Management + Planning. Cheryl Winkelman will oversee the agency’s Indiana Soybean Association and Indiana Corn Marketing Council accounts and select brands of the Bayer CropScience business. Cheryl began her career with both R+K and Bayer shortly after graduating from the University of Missouri. After four years here, she transitioned to positions with Leo Burnett and Gyro, before returning to Missouri. She has been in agricultural sales for the last several years with Timac Agro, gaining additional experience in the seed treatment market. Cheryl will be based remotely in Alexandria, Missouri.

Ryann Flynn

Ryann Flynn joins R+K as a Senior Copywriter. An award-winning creative with a background in ag marketing, Ryann was previously a copywriter with Bader Rutter and Jacobson Rost. She has worked with clients including Comcast Sports Net, MillerCoors, Pfizer Animal Health and Dow AgroSciences. Ryann has a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University and is a certified art director from the Chicago Portfolio School.

Erica Ballmer

Erica Ballmer joins R+K as an Assistant Account Manager, Public Relations. Erica is responsible for coordinating projects, managing timelines, creating content and communicating with clients. She is working with Bayer CropScience, the Indiana Soybean Association and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. Prior to joining R+K, Erica was a graduate research assistant with the Purdue University Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication. She completed internships with the Office of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Representative Amy Loundenbeck, CNH Industrial, and the University of Wisconsin Extension: Wisconsin Dairy Youth Program. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a master’s degree from Purdue University.