Our telecon with AgWired’s Chuck Zimmerman

This week’s blog post is a required post for my class.  Last week we had a teleconference with AgWired’s founder Chuck Zimmerman during which he gave his background and how he started out in agriculture media and AgWired.  Mr. Zimmerman definitely has one of the most interesting backgrounds I’ve heard, most of which is available to read about on AgWired.

One topic covered by Chuck was how communication and journalism changed over his career.  I know since I was a kid, things have changed immensely, so it has changed even more so for him.  When I returned from my 15-month deployment to Iraq in late-2008, technology had absolutely exploded.  I was asked by Verizon if I wanted “2G” with my new phone.  The salesperson looked at me like I was a complete idiot when I asked, “Why on earth do I need internet on my phone??”  Prior to leaving for Iraq, using the internet on your phone was the absolute scariest and most expensive proposition for me (and probably anyone without a lot of money).  Plus, I couldn’t imagine needing the internet so badly that I required it on my phone and always available.  Ignorance is bliss—I don’t know what I did without internet at my fingertips now!  Sad.

During his 30+-year career, Chuck has seen some of the greatest advancements in technology, particularly with social media.  He started out in agriculture radio broadcast after college and now operates one of the first agriculture blogs that he and his wife founded in 2004.  Chuck embraced the changes by generating AgWired, which has been one of the most successful tools in social media for agribusinesses in the United States.  This has been incredible for farmers as well, especially as a younger generation that is certainly more technologically savvy and can take even greater advantage of social media.  The younger generations are where I see the greatest impact going forward are.  Also and in this, everyone from large agribusinesses and small, family-owned farms alike will continue to utilize social media to grow their businesses.  It will continue to become easier and easier for consumers to connect with the businesses that provide everything from food to clothing.

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Three things I learned from FarmNWife’s blog

Unfortunately, I missed class last week when the FarmNWife blogger Judi Graff came to give us tips on writing blogs and offered critiques for each student’s blog.  Asher ended up with strep throat and I had to stay home with him. I’ll be writing an entry about this episode in my next blog.  I’ve been studying FarmNWife’s blog and came up with the top three things I learned from her blog and how I can apply them to my own.

Writing short blog posts.  If you’ve read any of my other [meatier] posts, you would know I tend to be long-winded when I write.  I realize if I would write shorter posts I could write more often.  In her post “11 Ways to Speed Blog,” Judi prescribes how a person short on time can still make time to post blogs through “speed blogging”—something homemakers/bloggers desperately need to know how to do!  I honestly don’t know how women with five or more kids (including a newborn) who homeschool and prepare everything have time to blog!  In addition to busy housewives, business owners—particularly small businesses or those just starting out—can benefit from speed blogging since their mission should be promoting their business through blogs, which requires a lot of time that the small business may not have.

Out of the list of suggestions she offered, I see myself doing list posts, product reviews, “on the farm roundups”, and pictures.  All of these are appealing and seem fairly easy to me.  The key thing I have to remember is to not get so wrapped up around covering every angle.  I also need to explore the idea of truly journaling my daily life occasionally, which is something I shy away from because I feel people really don’t want to hear about my daily happenings.  One suggestion I’ve done somewhat with posts is “write what you know”.  This is easy for me, but I often feel I don’t include enough sources in my information.  Something I will work on in the future!

Blog post checklists.  Judy provided a “Blog Post Checklist” through an image (think “shorter blog post”!) detailing all the things you should do before publishing a post.  There are so many that I’m not doing now and should be!

Blog Post Checklist

FarmNWife’s Blog Post Checklist

I follow many of these suggestions, but the ones I will include better in my posts are categorizing, calling to action, adding more links and keywords, and sharing each post better.  I’m still a little unwilling to promote my blog at this juncture because I feel I need to come up with more content beforehand, but I realize some people are satisfied with a single article.

Top mistakes beginners make.  My favorite and most informative teaching by Judy was “Top Mistakes Beginning Bloggers Make”.  There are so many I had not thought of before!  I was totally clueless about permalinks prior to reading this and will certainly go back and fix those on my blog.  Here’s her list of top beginner posting mistakes:

–        Not setting permalinks
–        Using click here for a link
–        Not key wording images
–        Large blocks of text
–        Making it hard to comment or share
–        Not linking internally
–        Unable to contact

I think I fail at all of these except a couple.  I don’t feel I have an “interactive” blog with enough links.  I’ve learned a lot about blogs just through reading and subscribing to many, but I realize through this post that I’m not doing enough to promote and bolster my blog.  I love seeing links anytime I read anything, so this is one of the first things I’ll be changing in my blogs.  I think I’ll also remove the comment restriction I have on my blog.  I don’t like dealing with spam, but Judy makes the valid point that it’s easy to get rid of.  I also to get the keywording thing down, stat!

All-in-all I found her blog informative and useful for farmers, business owners and housewives alike!

Blessings,

Michelle

Five interesting things from our guest speakers

We had two guest speakers, Ozarks Farm and Neighbor Publisher Lynzee Glass & Springfield Leather Company Facebook Manager Christy Diebold (I don’t believe this is her title, but this is the position she holds that she basically briefed), for our class during our teacher’s, Jaime Johansen, absence on 2-6-2013.

Ozarks Farm and Neighbor site

Ozarks Farm and Neighbor site

  I enjoyed hearing them speak and share how public media–Facebook in particular–shaped the organizations they work for and even provided them chances to excel or create attention to the companies that employ them.  As part of last week’s assignment, I was to collect the top five fun facts I took away from the class, which are (plus one additional):

  1. It can take a lot of work convincing your boss of the necessity of Facebook and blogging, etc. for the business to grow
  2. Such a quick expansion can come from using free social networking for businesses
  3. You don’t need articles all the time in business posts; pictures and questions engaging your fans generates a ton of attention from your followers
  4. The admin site for business on Facebook is way cooler than the normal user’s version
  5. You have to have a personal Facebook account to setup a business account
  6. Springfield Leather Company uses [I think annoying little] Chihuahuas as mascots very uniquely and successfully through YouTube videos

    Springfield Leather Company Chihuahua mascot

    Springfield Leather Company Chihuahua mascot

I learned a lot about how to create a “following” on Facebook.  Since then I have noticed how individuals I’m friends with who operate a small business or service have been able to expand their following.  Very interesting…and most importantly, very free!

Blessings,

Michelle