Olthoff: Be real. It works (even at the Food Dialogues)

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In my social media endeavors, I have always tried to show all aspects of my life: the good, the bad and the ugly. I show what happens on the farm and what happens in the rest of my life, too. In doing so, I’ve built relationships with my followers. They feel as though they can trust me and trust what I say about food and farming.

I was lucky enough to be a panelist for the recent Food Dialogues in Ames, Iowa. That night, I took my social media philosophy to the stage. I tried my hardest to be real and relatable, so that I could build trust with my audience, just as I do on my blog and facebook page.

And I think it worked. The audience burst into applause when I explained that my CAFO, my “factory farm” is actually a family farm, and that my husband would be taking care of turkeys while everyone else was eating them.

After the event, Darcy Maulsby, freelance writer, posted this on her facebook page: “After attending the Food Dialogues: Iowa in Ames last night, here's my perspective on how to communicate with impact: 1) Passion persuades; 2) Abrasiveness is a turnoff; 3) Compelling stories trump impersonal statistics; 4) Explaining the “why” is just as important as detailing the “what” and 5) Authentic voices resonate.”

She went on to say this, “When people are invited to listen to both sides of the issue, the credibility of the messenger can be a game changer.”

What Darcy said is right.  The authenticity I show on my blog (and apparently in real life, too) makes a difference. One of my long-time blog readers, who is a vegetarian, left me this message the other day:

I know there's a lot of bad publicity about farming and GMOs and all of that right now, but I know from reading your blog and living out with the farmers in the country that whether you're growing corn or turkeys, you're just doing the best you can do. It's not a conspiracy, like so many people like to paint it. Stupid politics! I know if I did buy meat I'd like it to come from a farm like yours. You hear all of this sensational junk about the horrible things that go on in livestock farms, but I think of you and Bart and just can't see you doing that to your turkeys!

When you are real: credible, authentic, and passionate, you can make a difference in the way consumers see modern farms.

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