By Pete Cardoso, TLT marketing communications intern

It’s no secret that Twitter has exploded onto the social and business landscapes. Everyone from Martha Stewart to the New York Times to your next-door neighbor are getting in on the act, as the communication platform is open to all interests or opinions.

When Chris Raines, extension meat specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Dairy and Animal Science, saw how big Twitter was becoming he quickly jumped into action. “More and more, this is how people get news and other information. To keep extension, outreach and up to date, I jumped on the bandwagon,” Raines said.

Since joining Twitter in May of 2009, Raines has done more than just hop on a bandwagon; he’s in full control of where his Twitter site is headed, and it’s been moving forward for some time now. With over 3,500
followers and nearly 15,000 tweets posted to the site, it’s clear that Raines has made a splash on the social media landscape, becoming a trusted online presence in the world of meats.

“My goal is to provide balanced and objective information about a hot-topic subject,” says Raines. Currently, there is very little objective information about meat being distributed via social media channels.”

More than ever, now is a time where everyone seems to be more conscious of where their food comes from and want to know more. This includes finding out if something they eat is truly organic or hearing about any breaking news concerning the food industry. Health and wellness has become dramatically easier to keep track of as of late, and social media has played a key role in bringing it to the forefront of the public’s consciousness.

Raines masterfully maintains a constant flow of pertinent meat information, while keeping the mood light for
his Twitter audience. He seamlessly moves from how the drought in the southwest United States is affecting cattle producers nationwide, to a photo of a deer carcass that he used in a venison workshop to hunters, to what Pandora station he’s been listening to lately.

It may seem a bit jarring on paper, but by changing up content at such a rapid pace while still focusing on his subject in a broad manner, Raines keeps his readers engaged in the niche subject. He also opens their eyes to issues they never gave much thought to before signing up for @iTweetMeat.

“Twitter is a quick, easy communication tool that I can use to help people when they have a quick question they need answered,” says Raines. “If I consistently receive the same question, I write up a blog post
and use that ‘answer’ so that people can reference it in a timely way.”

Raines’s blog can be found at http://meatblogger.org/
and features extended entries on significant issues in the industry, as well as facts, figures and his overall thoughts pertaining to the meat we eat.

Raines makes it clear however that these websites are not a one-way flow of output on his part. “I can have public conversations with any given person, and someone else can watch conversation happen,” says Raines. “I
have been told many times that so-and-so learned much just by reading my Twitter discussion with somebody else.”

Raines’s responsiveness to inquiries has kept his followers engaged and given them a feeling of being involved in the conversation whether they’re being addressed directly or not.

So far, Raines’s work online has been greatly successful as he’s been able to attract experts in the meat industry, as well as those who are merely curious to help broaden his network and influence. When asked about
the feedback he’s received from his followers, Raines simply responds, “so far so good!” Despite his past and present accomplishments, there are still plenty of people to reach, issues to comment on, and progress to be made.

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