Get social with your network
Tweeting, messaging, blogging and Skyping are all the rage, but does social networking really work with fullservice ag retailing? While practically every business under the sun has a website, and many have Facebook pages, few go beyond a markets page, news services, products and a listing of managers to contact. Lack of interest might suggest that social networking doesn’t f it the industry.
Curt Dannen, branch manager at Crop Production Services in Tangent, Ore., believes it does. His staff is actively involved in the latest digital tools, using them not only to reach customers, but also to communicate more effectively with each other.
“I’m glad we are doing it,” he said. “This is how information is being exchanged with the younger generation who have grown up with computers. They are comfortable with it and are using it all the time.”
Here, Dannen is talking about both his younger employees and his younger farm customers. To ignore that, he says, is to ignore the future. “There is no point in saying we don’t need it because we’ve never needed it in the past,” said Dannen. “We have to gear ourselves for the future.”
Tangent CPS is definitely geared up when it comes to social networking tools, but it’s selective. There is no tweeting and very little done with Facebook. However, the branch’s blog looks like a website that is constantly
refreshed with reports from agronomists and links to information of interest to customers. Customers are instantly notified when new material is added. Staff are all on smartphones for communication and photo purposes and use Dropbox to share pictures from the field with each other. Google Hangouts, with video chat capability and photo sharing, is used whenever staff want to share information or communicate as a group.
SOCIAL NETWORKING FOR ALL AGES
If all that sounds like a bunch of young staff getting carried away, it’s not.
In fact, according to Jason Bennett, sales manager, it was Pat Boren, a senior fieldman, at a brainstorming session who suggested a need to make better use of the internet. It was a need Bennett recognized.
“We want to communicate to our customers, and we have some who soak up the technology side with variable rate controllers, smartphones and the newest gadgets,” he said. “When it comes to our growers, perhaps 75 percent or more have smartphones. Depending on customer preference, we can send information directly to their phone, send them to Dropbox to see images and a write-up or tell them about a video of a f ield visit that was just posted to the blog.”