Gabriella and her two kids standing by the lead up of the cattle chute.

Share Your Story

Over the last year we have seen markets that handsomely reward ranchers for hanging in there the last several years. It is important for us to plan for the bad years during the good years. A few of you may be thinking about how you can become a price maker rather than a price taker. One way you can do that is to seriously consider the impact that sharing your family’s story could have on your ranch. The amount it could increase the value of your product, or become an additional stream of revenue. At minimum, your efforts will be a huge win for agriculture. For some of you, the thought of sharing online might be really uncomfortable to think about. For others it is something you’ve been dragging your feet about for quite some time. Regardless of your age, this message is for you.

We really need you to begin sharing. The more farm and ranch families that share their story, the more consumers will connect to their food. We really need that. We need them to feel so close to us that when they go to vote, they might ask us how we feel on certain bills, measures, or leaders before they fill in the bubble for themselves. For example, Oregon has Initiative Petition 3 which is a petition that everyone should be paying attention to. We need voters to do their research and see that it would be detrimental to Oregon and beyond.

A few reasons that may be keeping you from sharing your story:

“I don’t have time to share my story.

It’s an opportunity for someone younger in your family to shine. This is a great way for you to connect with a daughter, son, granddaughter, or grandson. Your content planning can be each day during breakfast or lunch. While driving in the feed truck you can talk about ideas or actually create content.

I don’t want to share my story with extremists.”

They are loud, don’t get me wrong, but you will connect with far more great people that are sincerely interested in knowing what you do and how you do it. When you come across an extremist you can block them and move on. There are fewer of them than you think.

I don’t know how to start sharing my story.

Collaborate with a ranching and/or beef advocate you know. I am 110% positive they will be more than happy to share what they’ve learned and their two cents on how to get started. Brainstorm 3-4 pillars that you could share about. Maybe you have some conservancy easements, perhaps you love bbq-ing in the evenings, or you grow or raise another product or animal. Think of the things that set you and your operation apart from the neighbor next door. Decide on one platform that you may already enjoy using, one that lends itself to sharing the content of your 3-4 pillars and is a platform your target audience is using. There is a lot of research out there on what platforms certain age groups go to for what information. 

“I don’t take very good pictures.

There are a lot of free or low cost tutorials on how to use an iPhone to snap pictures and videos that are perfect quality for any social media platform. I feel confident that you will see a rapid improvement in your ability as you just start doing it. Also, this may be a great place for a family member who loves being behind a camera to shine. You can stock up images to use at times when you aren’t getting as many or you are extra busy. Trust me, I find myself thinking, how in the world do people do all of this with two hands? How do you flake hay off the back of the truck and make a decent video? The verdict is still out, but I do my best.

I don’t want my family to respect me less.

Sharing your story takes effort and consistency. Consistency is something that I am personally working to improve on. I really do love being where there are more cattle than people. I think many people in agriculture may feel similarly. Depending on the season you may feel like showing up more or less. Stock up content that you can roll out during those times. When you begin walking down this path, be sure to bring your family or whoever you work with in on it.

Tucker Brown, the 2023 NCBA Advocate of the Year has a lot of support from everyone he works with because he’s brought them in on the journey. He leans on them to take pictures or videos of him doing certain tasks. Tripods don’t work well in our line of work, so you have to have a helping hand. Discuss with your crew the reason you want to share the ranch’s story with the world. Always keep your “why” front and center. Intentionality is key. There are times to share and time you are 100% focused on your work.

“I don’t have anything to sell.”

Speaking of your “why,” remember, you don’t have to have a product to sell when you get started out or ever if you don’t want. It all depends on your personal goals. If you consistently show up and build credibility with your followers, you will likely have a captive audience ready to buy. Consider what you might want to sell to them.

Are you wanting to begin or boost the agritourism on your ranch? You could do ranch to table dinners in your barn or yard. Maybe you have some small cabins that you AirBnB. You could create a venue for weddings and special events. Are you wanting to start selling beef direct to consumers? You could sell custom exempt in your state or you could start your own boxed beef brand and start shipping all around the U.S. Are you working on some spice blends, barbecue sauces, or beef snack sticks that you could sell? 

The last bit of advice I am going to fly your way, what are you most connected to in your operation? It is likely the land, the history, or perhaps the brand. This is a great place to start when you begin to share your story.

Some will disagree with me, but I encourage you to take the time to invest in good branding for your platform. Find a graphic designer that does ranching and western lifestyle well and have them create a brand package. They will set you up with fonts, graphics, and a color palette that brings consistency to your page. The brand is also what your audience will connect with. If you love it, it will motivate you to keep showing up. Natalie Kovarik and Tara Vander Dussen share in their Elevate Ag course that if you want this gig to reward you like a business can, you have to treat it like a business.

Please know that I am always just an email or direct message (DM) away. If you have any questions or I can help you with any aspect of this, reach out. I am rooting for you today and everyday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let's be Friends