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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:


    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.


    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.)
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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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