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    What Social Media Taught Me In 2010

    The year 2010 is coming to a close and man what a year! My time at ZedX came to an end as I, along with 3 dear friends of mine, started a new company, IntelliCrop. We are currently down in the development weeds and I am grateful for the talents of Travis Pettijohn and David Faivre. Their dedication to quality in both the architecture and code cutting are second to none. And our managing partner, Steve Faivre is a true visionary. The way he speaks about innovative product ideas as if they "are" is inspiring! So, to the team at IntelliCrop, my hearfelt thanks for allowing me to be a part. I am itching to get to market so I can test some of my theories on leveraging new media in our marketing activities. The sooner we get out there, the sooner I can make the mistakes required to be a successful company! But I digress...

    I have been heavily involved in the social landscape for two years now and the first thing that comes to mind is WOW. I have learned a great deal. Here are my top five:

    Influence

    This particular concept is certainly difficult to measure in the social world. Information is disseminated so rapidly across many different places that it is difficult to actually measure it. It was hard enough to measure how influential someone was in the "real" world, much less the virtual world. The excellent work by Brian Solis (@briansolis) is THE source to gain an understanding on the topic of influence. I frequent his site often to gain insight and I suggest you do the same if you are serious about integrating new media into your marketing, PR, and sales activities. I expect influence to continue to be a much talked about topic in 2011. And rest assured it is something I will continue to learn more about and use as I put together marketing plans for our new business.

    Community

    Courtesy of University of Saskatchewan

    I was born and raised in Tin Top, a small Texas town. I now reside in Sycamore, another small town in Northern Illinois. The concept of community is important in both locales. With the ubiquity of the Internet and the rise of social media, community is no longer constrained by geography. There are individuals and companies working diligently to build communities all across the web. These virtual communities are just as strong, if not stronger, than the geographically constrained communities. A marvelous example of a virtual community is The Agchat Foundation. This community, of which I am a part, is composed of individuals and organizations involved in the business of agriculture. We all share a common bond whose strength is derived from the passion the members have about all facets of agriculture. I have learned that, as the famous Roald Dahl stated in his awesome book James and The Giant Peach., "Marvelous things will happen." when people believe in what they are doing and work together to build a strong community.

    It's All About The Customer


    We in the business of marketing have heard this mantra for decades, and it rings as true today as it did "back then." But now it is more important than ever to do more than just repeat the mantra in board meetings. We must give up control, which is a hard thing to do because in the social world, we never really had control anyway. Our customers did and still do. They have control of our brand and the messaging. So make your tweets, facebook posts, and blogs about the customer rather than your company. Be genuine in your messages and really, I mean really, provide content that is customer focused. As marketers, we have access to the largest focus group in history! Take advantage if this wonderful situation. Let your customers know you are all about what they want, need and desire. Be giving in your knowledge and accepting of criticism. Trust me, they will take it from there.

    Remember, It's A Conversation

    Courtesy of @briansolis and @JESS3

    How may times have you thought "Man I really wish I could just sit down and talk to him/her?" I know I have on numerous occasions. Social Media has taught me that it is easier to "sit down" and have that conversation. I have always been the type to interact. I really love networking and, most of all, I love talking with my prospects and customers. I yearn to hear from them and truly want to help make them be as successful as possible. It almost borders on the selfish as I get a great feeling when I make my customers life easier. And the only way that can happen is by having a conversation. A conversation, by definition requires at least two people/groups so if you do automate some of your social media efforts, please remember that there is NO SUCH thing as autopilot. By all means, automate where it makes sense - (side note - I automate some of my messages and accounts like @AgBlogFeed and @WineBlogFeed), but always remember to inject yourself into the equation. Engage people, ask questions, learn from them, and share your knowledge.

    The Clock is Ticking


    If this past year has taught me anything about the social media landscape it is this: The clock is ticking. The time to get involved in social media is NOW. People are talking, building communities, and becoming more social. Decisions are being made. So don't get stuck in the traffic. Grab a cup of coffee and move over into the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane with the rest of us. Dive in feet first, get your hands dirty, cultivate the "social land" and watch what grows. You will be astounded.

    As I move in to 2011, I will continue to cultivate the friendships I have been blessed to gain during 2010 stemming from my social media activities. Come join us, learn with us, and share with us. Here is to a fruitful 2011 folks! Go out and make if a fantastic year.

    Enter The Agchat Foundation

    I have the pleasure of serving on the advisory board of The Agchat Foundation. As such, I have created freindships that otherwise would not exist given the simple fact of geography. For this I am eternally grateful. But The Agchat Foundation serves a much greater purpose for the agriculture industry as a whole.

    The State of Social Media


    It is now common knowledge that social media is here to stay. It is not a fad. Businesses are leveraging multiple social media platforms to build and monitor their brand, interact with their customers, conduct customer service, and much more. Individuals are using these same platforms to share their knowledge, life, and connect with like minded individuals from disparate geographies. One of these platforms, blogging, is an excellent way to share your story. And people are reading blogs multiple times a day.

    
    So if you have not considered making the leap into blogging, what are you waiting for? Folks want to hear what you have to say. They love original, insightful, personal content. Don't believe me? Look at this:
    
    If blogging is a bit overwhelming, you can also have a go at micro-blogging; The tool most used for this is Twitter. Twitter quickly became the social media platform in 2009-2010. People are sharing, sharing, and sharing some more; everything from how to tips, recipes, day in the life, technolgy trends, planting and harvesting activities, and family life. The sheer volume of tweets is astounding.
    
    And let's not forget about Facebook, one of the most, if not the most, popular social media platform in the world.

    Enter The Agchat Foundation

    The Foundation was formed by farmers for farmers with this mission: Empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms. As you can see from the aforementioned data, social media is here to stay and is only going to become more ubiquitous in our every day life. The farmers that started The Foundation knew full well that the agriculture story needed to be shared. Not only that, it was well understood that the best folks to share the story of agriculture were farmers and ranchers.

    In the coming years I firmly believe that The Agchat Foundation will play a critical role in connecting farmers and ranchers to the general public. It will be instrumental in educating the agriculture community on the use of social media and it's importance for farmers and ranchers everywhere.

    I encourage you to visit The Foundation website. All of the vlunteers are here to help you enter into the "social world". Let their be no doubt that YOUR story is important; People want to hear from you, and the only person who can share your story is......YOU!

    Source(s): All charts are graphs courtesy of HubSpot





    

    A New Ag Adventure

    As you may have heard a group of us, namely myself, Steve Faivre, David Faivre, and Travis Pettijohn formed a new company called IntelliCrop. This is taken directly from the IntelliCrop website:

    IntelliCrop solutions are internet connected, map based products with intuitive, streamlined interfaces. Focused on usability, IntelliCrop provides customers with simple value added opportunities instead of complex "work added" products.

    We give a great deal of thought into the design of our service(s) to ensure they are customer focused and value-added instead of "work-added". And this is not a simple task. Given the magnitude of the decisions our customers must make and the ramifications when things do not go according to plan, it is vitally important that accurate, reliable information is available and easy to use. IntelliCrop's product design, at it's core, delivers on this principle. Every product/service we develop must explicitly deliver on accurate, reliable, easy to use information.

    Anyone working in the field of agriculture fully understands that two of the most important data sets used in making decisions is weather and soil data. There are certainly many more data points; however, weather and soil are often the most difficult to integrate into the decision making process, much less "combine" together to aid in decision making. This pain point can now be dealt with due to the fact that technology has advanced enough over the past 5 years to allow for the processing of massive amounts of disparate data sets.

    Speaking of data sets, agriculture, for the most part, isn't necessasrily lacking on data to make decisions. The continued innovations in precision agriculture show quite clearly that we are getting better at collecting massive amounts of data. Now what? The challenge comes in when trying to integrate all this data into a decision making process without cumbersome "work-added" tasks. In many instances our customers must navigate to multiple websites to get their information; This information is many times at a lower resolution than what is needed to make good decisions.

    IntelliCrop aims to change this by focusing on data integration and data fusion. We will "fuse" data sets together, display them utilizing the latest GIS methodologies spatially and temporally, and ensure our customers can easily integrate our product into thier current business processes.

    Know The Land. And Decide. What Can You Get Done Today?

    Please stay tuned in for further updates as we prepare to launch our product in the spring of 2011. Here is a direct link to the latest press release (you can also find it in the News section of the IntelliCrop website.)
     
    If you would like more information you can:
    Use the Contact tab on the website
    Reply to this blog post
    Post a message on our Facebook Page
    Find us on Twitter
    Email Nate Taylor at nate.taylor@intellicrop.com
     

    Farmers, I THANK YOU

    Thanksgiving is upon us, and I just love this time of year. Waking up to a brisk autumn morning looking out onto the beautiful countryside of harvested fields and freshly raked piles of leaves is invigorating. It is both tranquil and exciting all at once. 


    I am fortunate that I get to see, touch, and smell these fields. It adds to the connection I already have with agriculture and serves as a reminder that farming isn't for the faint of heart. I am privileged to work with the farmers across this country and intend to continue working with them in bringing food to plates around the world.  

    As you may be aware, The Agchat Foundation started a campaign called #foodthanks. If you are not aware, read my previous post and go to the Foodthanks site. The idea behind it is to remember that the food on your plate was produced by someone. I, for one, am very thankful that there are folks out there who produce more than what they need for their family so my family can have safe, affordable, nutritious food. So to all the farmers out there..please accept my



    FOODTHANKS

    So take some time and express your gratitude and foodthanks to the hard working women and men producing our food. 

    Thankful to be in Agriculture - Giving my Foodthanks

    I am grateful. Grateful for my family, friends, health, clean water and air, pets, and a myriad of other sensational aspects of my life. Have you reflected on what you are grateful and thankful for? Try it out and focus your energy on being grateful. You will find it really impacts your outloook on.....everything.

    On a professional level, I am extremely grateful and thankful that I participate in agriculture. Almost everyone I meet in my field has a burning desire to do what they do; this is what agriculture does to a person!

    As on can probably tell, this post is focused on giving thanks and expressing gratitude. Thanksgiving is right around the corner after all, and I want to show you a great way to share your gratitude to the hard working women and men in agricuture that provided that safe, healthy, affordable, nutritious meal that is on your table and plate.

    It is called #Foodthanks (ignore the pound sign if you do not participate on twitter - and if you don't you really should). The website is http://foodthanks.com/. Stop reading this post now and go check it out. It provides you with 5 different avenues for you to express your thanks to farmers and others in agriculture.

    Simulating the passing of time



    OK - so you have now gone to the website. See how easy it is? I will also add that if you have any questions, I mean any please let me know. I would be ecstatic to assist you.

    Here is my video on giving Foodthanks. It is my first go at capturing video for my blog.




    Retail, Farmers, and Marketing

    During our family movie night yesterday I saw a commercial for Dominos Pizza called Behind the Pizza. Here is an article from Associated Press with an overview of the approach Dominos is taking with this new marketing program.Domino's Pizza EnterprisesImage via Wikipedia


    From the AP article:
    A marketing campaign premiering Wednesday night will highlight the ingredients by showing customers in a focus group in what they think is an office. Its walls come down and they realize they're on a dairy farm, complete with cow and a farmer in Blanchardville, Wis.
    As you can see, Dominos is continuing it's marketing messaging that, yes their pizza needed improvement and this is what we are doing to improve it.

    What interests me the most is the fact that Dominos is involving the farmers supplying the ingredients. In my mind this is a key differentiator from other programs that just talk about where (read this as geography) their particular ingredients come from. I support educational marketing programs that adds some bit of transparency in the process, but nothing is better than consumers interfacing and learning from the actual producer; nothing!

    Since this is relatively new and the actual site and program elements are in their infancy, it is still to early to determine how Dominos intends to create this bridge between consumers and farmers, but I will be watching this play out. And it is only a first step, albeit an excellent one if farmers are fully involved.

    So go for it Dominos. Involve your suppliers (farmers) as you continue to implement this program. We, as consumers need, scratch that, have an unmitigated right to know who is producing our food.

    I look forward to hearing more from farmers as they share their farming story.

    So dear readers, what do you think of this approach? Do you think Dominos will continue to put the farmer(s) front and center in this campaign? Do you have any suggestions and ideas?

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    Farmers are Talking. Are You Listening?

    Where do you go to find information when you want to learn more about a particular subject? Do you "Google" it? Read publications and blogs? Ask your network? Maybe all of the above, and more?    

    I certainly look at multiple sources, but I have found the best way to educate yourself is by going to the source. So if I wanted to find out about agriculture, I look to farmers. After all, farmers are the folks that apply the technology and science in the real world every day. They must make the decision on what crop to plant, equipment to use, technology to adopt, agronomic practice to utilize, and process to adapt. And then evaluate the efficacy of the choices they made from a tactical and strategic perspective to ensure the long term viability of the business.

    Given that most people do not have immediate access to farmers (I am extremely fortunate that I do!), a company, BASF, has created a place for the public to hear directly from farmers. It is called Top Plots, a Vlog series where farmers are sharing what has been beneficial to their business. Here is the latest release featuring Kip Cullers from Purdy, MO, the winner of the global soybean yield contest coming in at a whopping 160.6 bushels per acre! So listen in as Kip and other farmers share their journey with you.


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    How Do You Tell Time?

    Since harvest is underway I have been reflecting back on this, the 2010, growing season and one important question kept coming up.

    How do you determine when your fields are trafficable?

    A question so complex in its simplicity indeed! But the ramifications of being wrong......


    Trafficability is nothing new to us folks involved in agriculture. And it is certainly a critical piece of the crop production business. Whether you are a producer, Ag Service Provider, cooperative, or custom applicator, trafficability is on your front burner.

    Crop management is all about timing. Everything we do in crop production usually is prefaced by "When can I [fill in the blank]" It may be the perfect time to apply fertilizer, insecticide, herbicide, or fungicide but if the field  isn't trafficable nothing else matters. And lets not even think about tillage with soils that are too wet!

    So I open this thread with the two questions: How do you determine when you can enter your fields to perform field operations? And, What factors/variables play a part in your decision making?

    Thanks to all the farmers out there harvesting or about to start harvesting the crops for our food, feed, fuel, and fiber.

    Photo Credit: AgWeb

    Agriculture Represented at the 140 Character Conference

    What exciting news! Two of my friends are speaking at the 140 conference in August this year.

    What a marvelous opportunity to showcase how farmers and ranchers are utilizing the real-time web to #agvocate and spread the positive message of agriculture.

    My heartfelt congratulations to both Ray Prock (@RayLinDairy) and Jeff Fowle (@JeffFowle). I am certain they will ROCK the house!

    Agchat Foundation Website Release

    What comes to mind when someone mentions agriculture to you? Do you think about the food on your plate or the clothes on your back? Do you stretch out and think about medicine?

    Well, I do, and more!

    Agriculture is the backbone of thriving societies around the world. In many respects agriculture is the main driver of the GDP of many nations.

    But let's really be honest. Is agriculture on your front burner? To some yes, but to most, not really. I submit that this needs to be changed. We, as consumers, really need to think about where our food and fiber start, and it isn't the supermarket folks. And we, as agriculture representatives, need to share our story with the general public.

    Luckily for everyone, a foundation was formed by farmers to enable both scenarios above:

    • Educate consumers
    • Enable farmers to tell their story


    This foundation, The Agchat Foundation just released their new website that everyone should have a look at. I have written about the foundation in a previous post that you can read here. I am privileged to be a part of this group of dedicated individuals and urge the readers here to get involved.

    So, take a look at the website and let the foundation know what you think of the work that has been done so far. We would appreciate any feedback.

    If you want to engage the foundation you can do so as follows:
    Twitter - http://twitter.com/agchatfound
    Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/#!/AgChatFoundation?ref=ts
    You tube - http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=wsPCsKxyAoI

    My continued thanks and gratitude to everyone who participates in this blog. You can find me on twitter @natejtaylor

    Food Security and the G8 Summit

    Image courtesy: Farming First


    The G8 Summit is being held in Canada from June 25-27th. Among the topics outlined by Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada are:

    • Economy - Due in large part to the Global Financial Crisis
    • Climate - Clean energy will be covered
    • Democracy - The goal is to help counter global terrorism by assisting poorer nations govern themselves
    • Development - This area will focus on global health issues like malaria and AIDS. This is also where the group with discuss global food security.

    I would like to bring added focus on the food security aspect of the conference. 


    We all remember well the Food Crisis of 2008. In response to this many initiatives have been launched; globally, regionally, and locally. These initiatives are still needed today; however, it is critical that effective policy gets enacted to allow for these initiatives to gain momentum and the support required to deliver on their goals. 


    In preparation for the upcoming Summit, Farming First developed this excellent interactive map on global food security that provides information on the current initiatives, organizations running the initiatives, and their deliverables/goals. I suggest you visit the site and take a long hard look at what initiatives are in place.


    As well as developing the interactive map, Farming First is also urging policy makers to: 

    1. promote a clear joint focus on a common goal for food security at the global level through policy and operational coherence
    2. encourage increased transparency on how much of pledged funding has been committed and to what types of programmes
    3. engage a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that efforts are coordinated, clear, collaborative and ultimately successful.
    Besides the 3 approaches mentioned above, Farming First also states that 
    "Returning farmers to the centre of policy decisions is fundamental to sustainable development. Governments, businesses, scientists and civil society groups must focus attention on the source of our food security."
    Focus on the source indeed. I concur with Farming First; policy makers would do well to remember that food policy should, first and foremost, provide an environment that allows farmers to remain farmers. No farmers, no food!


    Lastly, and most importantly we need to maintain a strong focus on women in agriculture. Increasingly, from a global perspective, women are the food producer and procurer. As Farming First states:
    "Women farmers should become specially targeted recipients because of their vital roles in the agricultural workforce, household food procurement and preparation, and family unit support." 
    A thriving agriculture industry based on sustainable practices is the backbone of successful societies. A focus on promoting agriculture benefits everyone.

    Ensuring everyone is "food secure" should be of interest to all of us. No one should have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from. 

    So what do you think about the issue of Global Food "in"-Security? Let me know.

    This Week In Ag

    My friend John Blue of Truffle Media http://trufflemedia.com started this site and weekly discussion about agriculture. He graciously asked me to participate and I am really excited about it. Thanks again John!

    Take some time and listen to a few episodes (about 1 hour long segments) then let me know what you think. All feedback/constructive criticism welcomed and encouraged. We are also open to any topics you would like to see covered.

    You can find John on Twitter @TruffleMedia and me @natejtaylor.


    This Week In Ag

    What Topic Draws You into Agriculture?

    The below blog post on Science Blogs by Molly Webster hits home for me. I work every day to provide producers from around the globe the tools they need to grow the food we consume in a sustainable manner. Over the years the field of agriculture has progressed, mightily I might add. But we still have more work to do and lest anyone forget agriculture is a science. And with that comes all the complexities with any science endeavor. The single most difficult issue when discussing science is how to convey the information in such a manner that it not only makes sense to the consumer, but actually invokes a feeling of "this matters". As Molly stated:

    "How do I make agriculture relevant to YOU. Especially today when the hipper cousins "local" and "organic" are marketed as more wholesome and trust-worthy than agriculture. I see people shuddering at the very vision of giant plows mutilating hundreds of miles earth."

    So folks, how do we in the field of agriculture make the discussions relevant to the rest of the folks not involved in agriculture?

    Please share with this post with your non-ag friends to gather some feedback.

    Far Afield: The reach of agriculture : 2010 World Science Festival Blog: "Far Afield: The reach of agriculture"

    Don't Panic, Go Organic - By Anna Lappe | Foreign Policy

    Here is the rebuttal to Mr. Paarlberg's posting in Foreign Policy (My previous blog covered this).

    Thanks to @meredithmo for supplying the link.

    As I mentioned in the last posting, it is good to see people getting involved in agriculture and food.

    Organic, Local, Slow....GMO? and Other Complications

    The below article is all about how agriculture must deliver on it's mission to provide safe, healthy, affordable food. Without which, nothing else really matters.

    Now, to be up front, the article is pro-biotech, so go in with your eyes open in case you hold a different viewpoint.

    Actually, I am putting this post up not because of the article, but because of the comments. As you can imagine, many are diametrically opposed. But this is not a bad thing. It is good that people, farmers and consumers alike, are getting involved and educating themselves. How wonderful is that!

    Some of the comments had really sound factual points that took into account the many complexities involved in the food system.

    So please do read the article and then all the comments...maybe even add you own.

    Attention Whole Foods Shoppers - By Robert Paarlberg | Foreign Policy

    What Is Organic Farming


    A very quick post. I ran across this presentation on slide share and wanted to quickly share it with everyone. Please be sure to read slide 8. It is exactly how I view the role of agriculture as a whole. It will take ALL methods of production to satisfy a hungry world.

    Let's talk #Ag - The Agchat Foundation


    What if I were to ask you:

    "When I mention Agriculture, what comes to mind?"

    Do a myriad of thoughts, ideas, perceptions, and images based on your particular paradigm come to mind? I would think so. Now think about the diversity of our country, indeed the world, and imagine the many, many answers.

    Seven Year Old's Can Have Edith Bunker Moments Too



    Imagine if I told you that, despite the heavy advertising from fast food companies, the myriad of unhealthy choices out there, and the overwhelming requests from your children to "buy this and buy that" you, as the parent, have complete control over what your children eat at your house.

    NAG, NAG, NAG!!!  Stop badgering meeee!

















    Even the choices that they make.

    Going Negative based on Assumptions

    I participated in a discussion about agriculture yesterday evening (go figure, me talking about agriculture - surprising I'm sure).

    Let's start off with some questions and answers:

    Are there issues surrounding sustainability in agriculture? - YES
    Are there bad participants who break the rules in agriculture? - YES
    Do we all, as dedicated ag folks, want to stop these bad participants? - YES
    Are we all tired of silly labels? - YES

    Just to be clear, the above answers are mine, and mine alone. They represent my opinion.

    Now, on to the conversation...

    The View from Here: When Tweets are Put in Chronological Order

    The following is a discussion (loosely defined) between two people I follow on Twitter. In this particular instance, one person kept their cool and acted professional; the other did not. You can decide for yourself as I am not going to add any input. What I have done is put things in chronological order. Oh, one little correction. I will add input to the question regarding filet mignon. The study was funded through checkoff dollars. 








    Believe Science, not Headlines - It facilitates better discussions

    As much of us in the #ag community are aware, #GMO 's and #Monsanto are making headlines again. A study published by the International Journal of Biological Sciences stated that 3 maize GMO varieties MAY be toxic to the liver and kidneys in humans. 

    To GM or not to GM

    Oh boy, let the good times roll.....


    Personal Data

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    Agriculture passionado! I lead GeoVantage's Sales, Marketing, and Business Development activities. If you haven't explored the benefit of remote sensing for production agriculture, now is the time! Not one to rest, I am also a part of the Memes Associates team where we focus on assisting large companies in the agriculture space to "re-discover their inner entrepreneur" through the introduction of market disrupting technology(s) and services.  

    Have questions about agriculture and technology in agriculture? Ask away! 


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