by Cheramie Viator

One day in a conversation with my grandfather, who was 87 at the time, he asked, “What is this www thing I keep hearing about?” He was referring to the internet. With an iPad in hand, I googled his name and quickly found an article that had been written about his and his brother’s sugarcane farming operation several years before. From there, I showed him what his home looked like on Google Earth. To say that he was amazed is an understatement.

In another instance, I spent several hours with a well-known lady in the cattle industry teaching her how to move files on, to and from her new laptop. After a while, I finally encouraged her to think of her computer as a feedyard. In my analogy, the files on the laptop were pens in the feedyard. And the jump drive she was moving the files to was a cattle trailer backed up to a gate. With this analogy in place she quickly gained a perspective and understood the basics of how she could move files to and from her computer.

The next conversation that comes to mind was with a recent college graduate. She is 23, grew up on a ranch, and is now employed in the beef industry. I asked her which forms of social media does she look at each day and how often? “Well, I check my Facebook when I get up in the morning, when I get to work, at lunch, at least once during the day and several times during the evening. And the same goes for my Instagram account. I only look at Twitter two or three times a day. Oh and I love YouTube because I can find how to do anything on there.” Wow! And just think, she has a full time job!

If you have a conversation with any elementary-school-aged, pre-teen, or teenaged young person about how they learn at schools today, you will either be amazed or appalled. In most schools, they no longer issue hard cover text books and the students often are taught on computers.

With all of this in mind, it is very easy to recognize there are vast differences in understanding and use of technology and social media in today’s society. Each age generation has its own preference and desired way to be reached. For instance, ninety percent of millennials use social media. They have never known the world without the internet, so information has always been available at a touch

Now, let’s apply these concepts to marketing cattle.

As you are planning for your next sale – private treaty offering or consignment sale – how will you utilize technology and social media? You may choose to ignore both and just follow traditional methods of print ads and a printed sale catalog. In doing so, you may miss a large portion of your potential customers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you post pictures on Facebook, videos on YouTube, and do a video infomercial on Facebook, you potentially miss a segment of customers who are not tech savvy.

So, what is the correct answer to find a balanced, effective approach to your cattle marketing? Successful marketing occurs when you utilize mediums that touch each of the generations mentioned earlier in this article.

First, recognize that trying to utilize all forms of social media can be just as detrimental as using none. To be most successful, identify one or two social media platforms and concentrate on doing an effective job. Contrary to what many metropolitan surveys might tell you, print media is not dead. So be sure to include print advertising in your plan as well. Having a balance of print, social media, and even radio advertising will contribute to your most effective marketing plan.

Many find Facebook an easy and effective platform to use. Sale information, pictures, a few videos, and updates can be posted, even scheduled, and it is all free. If you want to promote your posts, you can sponsor your sale information and pictures at a reasonable cost.

To be successful on Facebook, you have to build a following. It takes consistency and a commitment to keep your page updated, but again, it’s free and very effective. Research, also, has shown that Facebook is the one social media platform that reaches across the most age generations.

During the year, prior to your sale or private treaty offering, ask your cattle customers which publications they read and which social media platforms they use most. Keep a list of these, and when it comes time to create your sale advertising plan, you can use it as a planning guide.

In closing, it is vital to recognize that across generations and age groups there are varied preferences for social media, print media, and technology. To be successful in your cattle operation’s marketing, you will need to have a mix of these. This will assure that you touch everyone from millennials to retired cattlemen.