The #oink Twitter campaign, which began Sunday, Aug. 16, tallied over 10,000 tweets through Monday morning, according to Web site wthashtag.com/oink. A tweet is a posting of 140 characters or less on the popular Internet social site. The objectives of the Twitter campaign were to urge the public and the media to drop the reference to “swine flu” and instead refer to it as H1N1. In addition, the campaign urged supporters to stress that pork is safe.
A sample tweet posted in the campaign announced “U.S. pork is safe, wholesome and nutritious. It has no connection to the H1N1 flu. #oink.” Another sample tweet says “Pork is safe to eat, H1N1 is a respiratory disease, not found in pork. #oink.”
The #oink designation, known in Twitter jargon as a hashtag, organizes tweets by subject allowing Twitter users to follow the campaign.
The campaign was highly successful in explaining the appropriate use of H1N1 in referring to the influenza outbreak. “We raised a lot of awareness,” says Chris Chinn, pork producer from Clarence, Mo. “People didn’t think it was a negative to refer to it as ‘swine flu’ until they learned the devastating impact it has on pork producers and family farmers. Once they realize, they are cooperative in referring to it as H1N1.”
Campaign supporters are urged to continue with their Twitter posts to reinforce the message among Twitter users and the media. “We want to continue the posting on Twitter because pork industry detractors, including animal rights activists and vegans, are using the platform to advance their agenda,” adds Chinn. “They jumped into the campaign with their anti-meat messages so it’s important we continue our efforts.”
In addition to posting tweets, Chinn also wrote and posted a blog on the Voice of Agriculture Web site, sponsored by the American Farm Bureau. Read the blog.