Posted by: Kellie Lasack on December 22, 2021

Posted in: Newsletter

Provided by Cultivate

Agriculture continues to search for ways to connect with the public on social media to share its story. #CattleTales is a diverse community active on social media platforms, sharing information and their personal stories about cattle and agriculture from pasture to plate, and connecting to each other and the public through a hashtag.

#CattleTales audiences are those involved with agriculture, mostly the beef and dairy industries, and who share information with their followers and audiences, which often include their friends, neighbors, family and communities who may not be directly involved in production agriculture. With #CattleTales, a strategic decision in content direction is to first reach those directly involved in agriculture; it is a true grassroots effort of relying on those in agriculture to share the content for increased reach. By doing so, the public sees information shared from someone they most likely already follow or have a relationship with. Not only does this increase brand loyalty, but it also increases the chance the information #CattleTales shares is trusted. Between #CattleTales original content and user-generated content, posts, stories, videos and graphics, the hashtag continually grows in popularity while encouraging others to also participate.

The benefit of a hashtag is it increases reach, creates a fun opportunity for all to join in and share, and serves to connect, filter and be searchable information. The #CattleTales social media platforms and content are strategically designed to encourage fun engagement. It doesn’t follow the traditional mindset of agricultural advocacy. All #CattleTales content and graphics are mindfully created to resonate with both agriculture and the public at large.

With a pandemic, 24/7 breaking news headlines, a controversial election year and more users on social media for longer periods of time, 2020 was a tough year to manage social media. You couldn’t schedule content too far ahead of time because it felt like some new controversy or someone being “canceled” occurred daily.

Analytics played an important role in developing content and visual graphics, which required a higher level of attention to detail and creativity to reach and resonate with a hyper-aware audience. But the core strategy of sharing fun information with #CattleTales did not waiver. Instead, the focus was put on ways to do this with an additional level of positivity and avoidance of key triggers.

Besides social trends, we also used research of our subject matter area. Summer is peak grilling season and everyone knows beef is “king of the grill.” Ground beef and burgers are also one of the most-consumed foods in the United States. Whether purchased from fast food, fast casual, fine dining or cooked at home, Americans love their burgers.

Several meat-alternative protein options made headlines and increased their foodservice and retail counterspace in 2020. With this emergence, there was an increase in back-and-forth online comments for everything from the ingredients to the label/name of said products. But our research and data show the public is still favorable to America’s farmers and ranchers, and trust the food they help raise. This trust decreases if the narrative is guided by or shifted to include language, such as companies, industries or corporations, whether the information mentions these or appears to originate from them.

Our strategy was to create a graphic to remind the audience of the people behind one of their favorite foods – burgers – while capitalizing on their trust and favoritism of America’s farmers and ranchers. Additionally, we wanted the graphic to be patriotic and unifying from coast to coast and gate to plate, without being obviously patriotic.

Our primary target audience for this graphic was the #CattleTales Facebook followers, with our secondary audience being the public. This put an emphasis on the content needing to resonate with our primary audience so they would share it and increase credibility with reach.

Our objective was to create an infographic to place on social media, which would fit into the #CattleTales branding in a fun way to encourage engagement and conversations online about where food comes from, with a subtle element of agricultural education. We strongly believe you should learn through fun experiences and not through just reading facts.

With Facebook the destination for this visual graphic, it needed to be scannable, intriguing enough to stop the scroll and encourage engagement. To do this, we used #CattleTales branding and chose a portrait orientation to maximize the “take-up space” on the screen of audiences. If you love a good burger, a graphic of a burger taking up your whole screen is most likely going to stop the scroll. Knowing we needed text on the graphic to complete the message, spacing it with different font sizes, effects and font colors help the graphic not look too text heavy.

While we know powerful search tools can’t read text on a graphic, we also know our audience really likes infographics they can simply share – whether they save it and share it, screengrab and share it, or use social media features to share from the original source. Our analytics continue to prove that creative infographics gain much further reach than a photo with all text/information in a caption. We therefore made the strategic decision to keep the post copy short and sweet, and truly make it about the graphic. The graphic was meant to dominate the social media feed for #CattleTales.

To date, the Building a Better Burger graphic has reached more than 450,000 Facebook users, been shared more than 3,100 times and received more than 22,700 direct engagements. The graphic was one of the most shared graphics created for #CattleTales in 2020. It went beyond social media shares to several requests for us to create a PDF file of the graphic, which several educators asked for, to share with students. Additionally, for the two-week time frame this graphic was posted in 2020, #CattleTales had more than 438,120 additional impressions. The month of August had a 113 percent increase in likes across all content compared with July. Not only did the graphic generate impressions, due to algorithms, but the popularity of this graphic also boosted the overall reach and engagements of all #CattleTales Facebook content.

We made a conscious decision to create the infographic knowing it would likely get saved and shared without credit back to #CattleTales, and not shared from the original post. This meant fewer analytics we could track. With the goal to reach as many as possible, we branded the graphic with #CattleTales and chose to post it. We also saw shares through other platforms outside of Facebook we did not originally post the content to such as Instagram and Twitter.

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