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First 'agri twitter' conference

Published on 11th June 2013

Event Notice: BGAJ Midlands has organised a social media workshop for all Members and Friends of the Guild from 6pm, Tuesday, July 9 at Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth, Warwicks CV8 2LD. Featuring Simon Haley, Johann Tasker, and also Julie Robinson of Roythornes Solicitors on how to exploit and use - but not abuse - social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Register for a place by Friday, June 28 with BGAJ Midlands secretary Liz Snaith 07974 678833. £15 each, colleagues welcome.

Meanwhile......

Guild member Johann Tasker, chief news reporter on Farmers Weekly, was one of the experts helping farmers understand the role of social media in agriculture at the first conference on the topic.

The inaugural #twitterinthefarmyard social media conference for the rural industries was organised by new Guild friend Simon Haley, and Jill Scrivener, both from Reading Agricultural Consultants, on behalf of the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants.

Simon Haley"The event itself generated 1568 tweets reaching 356,975 twitter accounts and creating 2,411,914 impressions," says Simon (pictured). "The main objective of the day was to reach out to those who are total newcomers to the terminology and technology, and to instil confidence to get hands-on - and start tweeting for example."

The day was also aimed at those who want to improve their current social media engagement, and to learn new ideas and gain hints and tips, he adds.

Lynsey Sweales from SocialB, Jake Freestone of Overbury Farms and Maz Dannourah from Roythornes joined Johann Tasker in providing expert opinion and content. The 55 delegates saw how to blog effectively, how to use YouTube to get a simple but effective marketing message across to the general public, how the professional sector has adopted social media use - and why tweeters should think before they tweet!

"There was also a speed networking session in the middle of the day, a relative unknown territory as a conference exercise, but a way to break the ice and make numerous contacts among delegates," says Simon. "The consensus was that it was a thoroughly worthwhile exercise, though a very intense 50 seconds to promote your business!"

Complimentary feedback from delegates showed that such an event is needed in the industry, he suggests. The knowledge and information shared on the day proved the value of a conference that encourages adoption of a technology providing an effective way to promote business and to improve business communication.

"The key message is for those not currently on social media to understand what it is, and how it could be used within their business," says Simon. "There is no obligation whatsoever to set up a social media account but knowledge of the terms and its attributes enables greater engagement."

He followed up the event by hosting an #agrichatuk session exploring the value of social media for the rural industries. As a co-founder of the UK’s largest farming discussion on twitter, Simon brought in guests from the USA and Australia to share their experiences of using social media within agriculture.

AgriChatUK sessions are held every Thursday evening, and for this discussion, it generated 815 tweets from 136 participants in the two hour session, with both Defra and the shadow farming minister joining the discussion.

"It was a perfect example of the reach of such technology," says Simon. "Farmers can use it to engage with policy makers and industry leaders on a variety of issues."

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