Social Media Q&A: An Inside Look At Mid Kansas Cooperative

Kerry Watson, Director of Communications, Mid Kansas Cooperative
Kerry Watson, Director of Communications, Mid Kansas Cooperative

Ag retailers have been slow to adopt social media as a whole. In fact, 46% do not use any social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) for business purposes, according to our 2013 Ag Retailer Social Media Survey. Retailers offered several reasons to why they haven’t climbed on board the social media bandwagon, from “it’s too time consuming” to “we’re not sure how to make it work.”

But one company that is taking the time to make social media work is Mid Kansas Cooperative (MKC). We caught up with MKC Director of Communications Kerry Watson who shared her insight into how the company is successfully using social media.

Q. Why social media?

A. One of the main reasons is to communicate our story in a timely, accurate manner. Another reason…if we’re not telling our story, someone else will.

Q. What is the purpose of the Social Media Committee at MKC? When did you form it?

A. The social media team was formed two years ago as MKC was planning to move into the social media world. We worked with a consultant who has an extensive background in social media and asked several employees if they would be interested in serving on the team. Many of them were already using different elements and had very good insight on what they felt companies were doing right or, in some cases, could improve on.

Different members of our team help post to our sites. And each member has a good understanding about what levels of communication should be done by whom. For example, crisis management will always be done through the communications department — not the social media team.

Q. What social media networks are you using?

A. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, LinkedIn. Just this past month we added Instagram.

Q. Why are you using these networks in particular? What are your goals?

A. We chose these networks as we felt they were most popular with the audience we were trying to reach. Our goals include: to tell our story in a timely, accurate manner; to use as a recruiting tool; and to reach larger audiences through our fans and followers, thus helping to build the MKC brand outside of our footprint.

Q. Who is your audience? Are you trying to reach grower-customers, members and/or employees?

A. Our Facebook fans are split down the middle — 49% men and 49% women. Less than 2% are 13-17 years old; 18% are 18-24; 19% are 25-34; 18% are 35-44; 15% are 45-54; and 15% are 55 years old or older.

Yes, our goal is to reach our grower-customers, potential customers and employees, and those we call “influencers” in the industry (e.g., banker, insurance company, ag extension agents).

Q. What types of content do you find most effective?

A. Content that ties strongly to an emotion evokes the best reaction. Examples of this include “Thinking of those affected by…” posts; introducing the new babies of our employees; and unfortunately, an announcement of the passing of an employee or customer. Photos with fun captions also capture a lot of attention, as well as information about new projects and facility upgrades.

We are just venturing into a Fan Friday promotion in which we will recognize a fan on a monthly basis. We’re excited to see where this will lead. We also produced a very fun video for our YouTube channel which has over 56,000 views.

Q. How are you measuring the success of using social media? What’s the ROI?

A. Each of the social media platforms provide analytics — some are more detailed than others. Facebook provides an excellent source for analytics on our posts and we refer to them frequently.

We’ve not completed an analysis to determine our ROI on our social media efforts. However, we did just complete a Brand Valuation in which our MKC brand was valued at $23.1 million. We believe our social media efforts have played a role in creating our brand awareness.

Q. Are there any tools that make using social media more efficient?

A. Some use HootSuite. TweetDeck is a good tool if you are just assigned to Twitter. Blogger has a scheduling option within its platform.

Q. What are your biggest challenges with social media?

A. Our biggest challenge is we (the social media team) can’t be everywhere all the time. We have to rely on our employee team to keep us informed of what is going on. Many times, an employee has good, timely information and plans to share it via social media that same day, only to get tied up with his or her job and forgets to share. We have missed some great opportunities because of this.

Q. If you had unlimited time and resources, what else would you do with social media?

A. If we had unlimited time and resources, I would probably have one person who spends three or four days a week out in our territory capturing pictures and information.

Q. What would you say to other ag retailers/cooperatives who say social media is a “waste of time”?

A. I would remind them that if they aren’t telling their story in a timely manner, someone else will (and it may not be flattering)! Social media is the tool of choice for communication today.

If one thing were to go horribly wrong for your organization and you chose to use a slower form of communication (i.e., press release, newsletter), someone else outside of your organization most likely has already started posting information about the event.

Q. What advice would you give other ag retailers/cooperatives who want to start a social media program?

A. If you have the budget, work with a consultant and create a social media team from within your organization. I wouldn’t recommend just one person trying to manage multiple platforms.

Leave a Reply

CropLife 100 Stories

CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denver
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
CropLife 100Map: Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings Acquisitions In 2014
May 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings continues to expand its agricultural retail distribution business through these key acquisitions in 2014. Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Acquire Illinois River Energy Ethanol Plant
May 1, 2014
CHS has signed an agreement with Sinav Ltd. to acquire 100% of the company's stock, which includes Illinois River Energy, a 133-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant at Rochelle, IL. Read More

Trending Articles

ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More

Latest News

Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK CEO To Retire
August 22, 2014
GROWMARK chief executive officer Jeff Solberg has announced his retirement effective September 15, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesDuPont’s Prevathon Approved For Dry Beans
August 22, 2014
DuPont Prevathon insect control powered by Rynaxypyr has received EPA registration for foliar use on dry bean crops, including dried shelled peas and beans. Read More
ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More