Yesterday, a mini-firestorm erupted in ag social media circles over the “appropriateness” of sharing very graphic details of the slaughter process on an individual’s ranch. I am not going to link to any parts of the story here, because this post is not about the individual case as much as it is about the lessons to be learned from the experience is this new and dynamic environment we find ourselves.
Lesson 1: Every individuals story is unique, we are often quite passionate about those things which we believe, and it’s important to realize any attempt to “corral” that passion will be difficult.
Lesson 2: There is not a “corn industry” or a “beef industry” made up of “producers” who share their story with “consumers”. These are unique, diverse individual farmers and ranchers, who connect in numerous ways with a group of consumers who are just as unique and diverse. The old adage of “one shoe does not fit all” is incredibly applicable.
Lesson 3: Everyone wants these conversations to take place in a public format. That’s something were still all coming to grips with, but its true. Want to understand/discuss how and why an individual shared what they did? Ask them, publically. Have the discussion, don’t be afraid of transparency. Private discussions around social media content should be mutually agreed to.
Lesson 4: “Thought Leadership” — ok, I’ll admit right up front, I have NO idea what “thought leadership” is. But it sounds like someone who’s worked hard to move themselves into a position of influence. I think of government officials, climbing the corporate ladder style folk, you know “important people”. I also suspect that many individuals heavily involved in commodity organizations would be “thought leaders”. Well, this shifts a little in the social media world. It seems “thought leadership” comes more from those actively involved, participating, those “walking the talk”, stuff like that. As a specific example, want to be involved in how the beef industry promotes itself and shares its story in social media? Get involved, EARN the respect of your fellow industry advocates, appreciate the diversity of individual voices, don’t claim to have all the answers, be open-minded. To me, that’s how agvocacy is accomplished in today’s world.