Pork industry active in social media

by Bryan Salvage
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DES MOINES, IOWA –Because the pork industry’s consumers and competitors are increasingly active in social media already, the Pork Checkoff is expanding its presence on YouTube, Twitter and other online venues to reach a wider audience and form new connections, according to the National Pork Board.

“With more people two and three generations removed from the farm, it’s more important than ever for farmers to tell their story and help people understand the basics of modern agriculture,” said Teresa Roof, public relations manager for the Pork Checkoff. “Social media outlets are a cost-effective way to get messages across.”

Most of Facebook’s 350 million users are beyond college age. On the micro-blogging site Twitter, which has grown 1,928% in the last year, 45- to 54-year-olds are the top demographic, with 25- to 34-year-olds close behind, according to comScore data.

At YouTube, more than 20 hours of video are uploaded every minute, offering millions of users hundreds of millions of clips to choose from to view. Ms. Roof said these trends show no signs of slowing down.

“It’s important for us to join the conversations in the social media related to pork,” she added. “If we’re not there to answer people’s questions, someone else will. Even better, it’s amazing how far our messages can reach through the social media.”

Eleven new videos in the “Food Comes From Farms” series were recently added to the Pork Checkoff’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/PorkCheckoff. The short videos, which are designed for consumers, range from “Lives of Sows Exposed,” which shows how family farmers provide humane housing and care for mother pigs, to “Wanted: A Good Home for Pigs,” which throws open the barn doors to show viewers the spaces where pigs live.

“By tracking how people are finding our previous YouTube videos, we used this information to make the new videos’ titles edgier and descriptive tags more useful for online searches,” said Ms. Roof, who noted that the Pork Checkoff has used YouTube for nearly three years and continues to develop an online following.

Recently, the Pork Checkoff worked with two producers, including VandeRose Farms in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and the Sleezer family from northwest Iowa, to film the “Food Comes From Farms” videos on-site.

“Intentionally, the person who narrated the videos did not have a farm background,” Ms. Roof said. “We wanted him to ask questions an average consumer would, such as ‘Why don’t the swine barns have windows’ and ‘Are the sows comfortable in those pens?’”

The videos show the basics of pork production from farm gate to dinner plate, including why artificial insemination is used and how corn grown on the farm is used to feed the livestock. The videos can be integrated on Twitter, where the new @Pork Checkoff handle is geared towards pork production-related issues, Ms. Roof noted.

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