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 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. 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
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 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
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
HerbicidesGenetic Literacy Project: There’s No Such Thing A…
April 17, 2015
Read the latest “analysis” on GMOs from Consumer Reports and you’ll “learn” that glyphosate, the chemical developed by Monsanto (its Read More
HerbicidesNew Resistance To 2,4-D Discovered In Australia
April 17, 2015
In a world-first case of herbicide resistance, researchers have confirmed that sowthistle weed in the south east of South Australia Read More
ManagementNews From RTP Company Visits and Growers Buying Older S…
April 16, 2015
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss recent trips to the Research Triangle Park area and market seed sales trends. Read More
soybean field
StewardshipNew ASABE Standard Establishes Framework For Sustainabl…
April 16, 2015
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has initiated a project to develop a new standard to establish Read More
MicronutrientsSouthern States: An Inside Look At Our Tissue Sampling …
April 15, 2015
Remember learning about the food pyramid in school? The nutritional diagram recommends the proper amount of nutrients you need on Read More
Industry NewsArysta Adds New U.S. Fungicides Marketing Manager
April 15, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently hired Deneen Sebastian as its Marketing Manager for U.S. Row Crops, Fungicides. Most recently, Sebastian Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Launches Phosphite-Based Cereal Fungicide
April 14, 2015
A new, phosphite-based fungicide designed for improved suppression of deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat and barley infected by Fusarium head blight Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
HerbicidesSURVEY: Close To 90% Of Growers Battle Weed Resistance
April 14, 2015
Herbicide resistance management continues to be a priority for corn and soybean growers, and they’re working together more effectively to Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
StewardshipFMC Corp. Joins Sustainable Agriculture Alliance
April 14, 2015
FMC Corp. has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a multi-stakeholder initiative working to define, measure and Read More
Industry NewsArysta Adds Two To Goëmar Sales Team
April 14, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced two new additions to the Goëmar sales team: Steve Kelly, Technical Service Manager – Read More
Valley Variable Rate Irrigation
Precision AgVariable Rate Irrigation Gains Followers
April 14, 2015
Irrigation systems have had the ability to apply different amounts of water throughout a field for decades, using timers that Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Gr…
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsThree Ag Co-ops Poised For Possible Merger
April 13, 2015
Following months of study and preparations, the Board of Directors for United Farmers Coop (UFC), Farmers Elevator Cooperative (FEC) and Read More
Eric SfiligojAgriculture Braces For More Belt-Tightening
April 13, 2015
Spring is in full bloom across the U.S. and ag retailers and their grower-customers are busily getting into high gear. Read More
ManagementPollinator Health and Washington, DC
April 9, 2015
CropLife America’s Kellie Bray speaks with CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj regarding bee health and proposed Beltway regulations. Read More
InsecticidesValent Takes On MGK Insecticide Portfolio
April 9, 2015
As of April 1, Valent U.S.A. Corp. became the exclusive provider of the MGK crop protection line of insect control Read More