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July 23, 2014

68: Social Media Lessons Learned from the Japanese Countryside

68: Social Media Lessons Learned from the Japanese Countryside

Neal shares the four things companies need to launch a successful social media program based on time he recently spent in rural Japan helping farmers get social media savvy.

 

Transcript

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welcome to maximize your social actionable 10 minute advice on how your business can maximize your social media presence. Now the host of Maximize your Social social media Author, speaker, consultant and founder of Maximize Social Business Meals. Schaefer. Hi there. This is Neil Schaefer, and welcome to another edition of the Maximize Your Social podcast. You know, I hope you enjoyed my last podcast, which came directly from London pub. I feel a little bit bad because I realize now that I just got back from Japan yesterday that I have been out of the country with the exception of three days the entire month. And yet I was unable to record a podcast for you while I was in Japan. So I'm really sorry for that. I'm sorry you missed hearing my voice. I haven't been is frequently podcasting as I should, but I have a good excuse. And I'm going to be revving back up and getting back on course here. And today I want to talk a little bit about what I did in Japan. Now, as you know, Or maybe you don't know my wife is Japanese. We go back every summer. So my summer trips to Japan are primarily personal, but I always have business mixed up with whatever I do in life. And I did due to events in Japan, one in Tokyo and one in a rural part of Japan called Kumamoto. And that's really the experience I want to share with you, because I think that experience really gives a clue as to what you need in social and where you might be going wrong with your own social program. So this is the background. There is a prefecture, Ori province or a state for lack of a better word in Japan. Cook, Kumamoto and one of their primary industries is agriculture. Japan is still full of states or provinces that are primarily agricultural nature. They stop a huge population of family owned farms that have been handed down from generation generation, and this is an area where they feel they can significantly raise the value, add in their economy, and they can do this by they call it the sixth Industry. I don't even know if that's the right term for it. That's the term that they use. But basically trying to get farmers away from just selling their vegetable and fruit in Mass. Two huge distributors whereby they don't get the most value for the money, although it's the least risk and slowly start to market their product directly to consumer. Would you buy fruits and vegetables directly over the Internet? Maybe not, but in Japan it's actually become quite popular Japanese air. Quite foodie, I should say, for lack of a better word, they truly enjoy cuisine and good fresh food. And if you've ever been in Japan and you switch around the TV, you'll probably notice that there is a channel. And I'm not talking about cable TV just normal over the air. You know, the 10 different channels they have. There always seems to be something going on about food. And if you'd been there, you understand that they are a true culture that's really, really in the food now. Obviously, Japan also had the Fukushima disaster, and after that a lot of people wanted to know where their food came from, and they wanted to be able to buy it directly from different provinces that are further away from where that disaster took place. So it's very unfortunate thing, but that helped accelerate more and more Japanese that are actually buying fruits and vegetables directly over the Internet. So here was the challenge, though. How do we teach these farmers? What is the potential with social media to directly reach out to consumers to create relationships with them, to potentially even, maybe start to grow special fruit and vegetables to meet their needs? And that was really the topic of what I was discussing really going over the latest social media, you know, trends here in the United States, but also trying to give them advice and actually gave them a little bit of homework as to what they should be doing of really developing a brand right to represent their farm on the Internet in digital media. So, unfortunately, AA lot of these people themselves are not users of social media in Japan. By far, Facebook is the most popular SMS or social network, as it is here in the United States and in most of the world. And therefore the first step really is how do we get these farmers on Facebook and derive value out of being on Facebook and seeing that this can be a viable future for them by engaging on Facebook and using it as a digital media platform. So that was really my role. And I understand from after presenting that's the community is now a stir. They see the potential with social am they're used to Facebook has skyrocketed. So I think that I've achieved the first step of my job. But as you can see, the first step really is the education right. And the education comes in two different parts and number one understanding the potential and number two really yourself becoming a user of the platform and understanding how people use it, right? That's sort of the education and those of you who know me if you've ever seen me present, I talk about the reason why I do. What I do is that I think companies and professionals need strategy and education. This is the education, right? The second part of the strategy, this is what you need. And I went over, you know, you needed to find your target user. Is your brand your content strategy and you know what platforms you gonna play in? Who's gonna do the work? There's so many things that go into a social media strategy. But These are things that you need to think through. And if you've never done that and you just go into the do before you do the planet's part of this the P. D. C. A cycle that I talk about it, maximize your social, you know that you need to do this or maybe revisit it. Maybe things have changed, right? People use social platforms differently than maybe they did two or three years ago. They've moved other platforms. Maybe, and maybe you've missed them. So these are other things to look into, but it comes down to the strategy. So I came into the education and with homework to help. Each of these farmers developed their own strategy. But there's still some missing pieces here. And I think one of the big missing pieces comes into this notion that social media and I always talk about it being the convergence of information and communication and as companies as brands and these farmers as well are at a disadvantage because they're not coming into social media as consumers, as normal users that just want to interact with friends, they're coming in with an objective of wanting to develop business. There and therefore they are at a disadvantage. How are you gonna promote yourself in a way that is authentic and engaging? As someone's sending out Happy birthday wishes? Or someone's showing a picture of their trip to the beach? Right, you're had a disadvantage. What you need is content. The content comes in a variety of formats of mediums. You have photos, videos you have, you know, blogged posts. You have status updates, but you need to have a content. And what the's farmers needed was they needed to have stories, right? What individual stories? Or they're just stories that are in the written word. The medium doesn't matter. But they needed have stories. And really, I mean, brands have stories as well. We all talk about the importance of storytelling. These farmers have incredible stories, and it was fascinating. One of the farmers invited me to His house is a big music lover, as I am a need a bunch of 45 V. P. S from the sixties and seventies. He had a few different turntables in this house. Crazy guy. But we were listening, you know, to like Simon and Garfunkel, singles from the sixties on 40 fives. And as you know, the original E P s just or LP just sound incredible. So as we were talking, he had all these stories, right? He gave me some frozen peach, and he actually showed me the recipe because this is how you can make frozen peach. You know, sometimes you may get as what happens in the countryside they have a lot of crop. They like to give some of the excess of their friends, and all of a sudden you get a lot of food that you may not need immediately what you gonna do with it? And you want to maintain its freshness. So this is a recipe for frozen peach that tasted wonderful. And there are other stories about, you know, how he grew pears and he actually took me outside. You know, moths destroy pears and therefore he had these incredible yellow lights. I took some pictures. I need to upload them soon, but of these yellow lights at night in these in these fields of pear trees. And those lights were to make sure that moss did not come by. He also had to tie up every branch of every pear tree So if the typhoon's come and they were in season when I was there, they would not destroy or have the pears drove up the trees before they were truly ready, right? There was another a woman that I met locally there who also had a number of stories of recipes of just basic knowledge that remains for decades, for centuries. In these families in the countryside that is fascinating. And for those that live in urban cities that are removed from the countryside that removed that eat things that are far removed from where they were grown. There's a lot of information that they just don't know, but they probably should or might want to know. And these are the stories that just over the evening and over being there a few days just just came out left and right. And, you know, my thought was, Well, if I could just record these and transcribe, um, you have enough content here? If I could just spend a day with you, you have enough content here for, like a year's worth of block post and enough ideas for photos, right? And that's you know, it's the development of the stories and they themselves do not understand it. Sometimes it takes 1/3 party, you know, for lack of a better word expert. To be able to say that you know exactly what you're saying. These are the things that you can introduce as part of your content. Very, very natural way of doing it. But the last thing that they need then, right, they got the basic education, they got the strategy, they got the stories you need the system. The system is that I'm gonna stick with, Ah, schedule. I'm going to monitor for mentions. I'm going to respond back to people every day. I'm going to invest a little bit of time into doing this and the building out my infrastructure. And that is where most small businesses, I believe break down. This is where the farmers, I think you're gonna break down. So I'm looking for my next project with this prefecture actually trying to get back there and really sitting down with them and lead them through the story creation process will confirm the strategy, but also that process and also creating that system. And you know, to anyone that is listening to a podcast, if I could spend a month together with the regardless of what type of business you're would have you and literally sit in an office at your company. I feel really confident That's something I could bring. And it's something that, as part of my consulting a focused on the strategy and not the implementation, and I never intended to create my own agency. But this is sort of a program that I think a lot of companies need, and I'm looking to develop the pilot of this program for this prefecture in Japan. We'll see how it goes. But I hope that the content on this podcast resonated with you. Always appreciate your feedback. If you're interested in becoming part of the pilot program for what I plan to dio feel free to reach out to me. But anyways, you know, revisit what you're doing with your program and see if there's an area that can use a little bit of brushing up right. Social media is always changing. What you do with social media as a business needs to always be changing, always be in flux as well. That's it for today. Everybody feels great to be back here at home in the U. S. And I look forward to playing a little bit of ketchup with my podcast. So be on the lookout for a lot of great content coming out in a not so distant future until next time, wherever you are on the world. Make it a great social day. Bye bye already. Thanks for listening. To maximize your social. We appreciate your iTunes subscriptions, ratings and comments. If you would like to appear on this show or recommend content, please contact meal Schaffer at Neil at Maximize Your social dot com. Make it a social day.