Comment: Enter the conversation

Ali Spencer2Social media is turning the meat industry reform debate and it’s time for meat exporters to enter the conversation too.

NZ Farmers Weekly‘s editor Rebecca Harper covered the subject of social media in an excellent editorial earlier this week.  She believes “Definitely yes” social media can actually effect meaningful change and cited a number of examples in agriculture where it is helping change.

From my perspective, it’s been interesting to note the rise of the grassroots movement of Meat Industry Excellence. Its momentum and organisation has no doubt been aided by the modern usage of smartphones, Twitter and Facebook.

As meat exporters know only too well, social media is applying a new level of transparency and openness to everything, not least this current debate. Indeed, looking to customers all around the world, many have shifted their marketing and PR strategies to social media in those overseas markets and also to Kiwi consumers. But, if they haven’t already, exporters need to enter the debate here at home in New Zealand to connect with suppliers and the wider audience watching the debate.

What are the on-ramps to get into it?

Personally, I think the most useful is LinkedIn, the business networking tool, which most people in the business world are already on. Many in the industry have profiles, collect contacts, join networking groups and some even find jobs. However, it is amazing how few people harness it’s power to communicate with their business audience.

Because they’re out and about, many farmers, scientists, government officials and politicians are in the Twitter “stream of consciousness” sharing ideas, thoughts and contacts outreaching not only to immediate contacts but also wider, including overseas. Beef + Lamb NZ use it very successfully for farm extension work and levy-payer communication. While it’s not a media for entering into lengthy debates and complicated discussions as you’re limited to only 120 characters (making for some interesting grammatical choices when you run out of space!), it is useful for sharing pithy comments and making sure the correct information is out and about.

Also useful, depending on the audience, are Facebook, Pluk and Pinterest, but these are mainly consumer-orientated.

MeatExportNZ has a closed LinkedIn group for those working in or for the New Zealand meat processing or exporting sector and can also be followed on Twitter.

Join in the conversation, don’t be shy!

What are your thoughts?


2 Comments on Comment: Enter the conversation

  1. Good points B+LNZ. Totally agree with the brand extension potential and the positive spin-offs of Facebook, Pinterest etc. For business-to-business though, eg for meat exporters working with business contacts in market, LinkedIn is the more powerful networking tool. All most definitely have their place in the ‘new normal’!

  2. Thanks for the positive feedback Ali. Here at Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd we definitely see a key role for social media in our farm/industry communications programme as well as our international consumer marketing campaigns.

    We’re gradually building our presence across multiple platforms to suit different audiences. These include: Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest.

    The latter two are indeed skewed towards consumers, but we reckon that opens up a great opportunity for Kiwi farmers to take ownership of ‘brand New Zealand’, share stories about themselves and their farms and, in doing so, showcase the pastoral farming system that’s a point of difference in many of our export markets.

    Not to mention positive spinoffs in fostering the community spirit and pride that’s all part of attracting New Zealand’s best and brightest, and ensuring a thriving future for our sector.

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