Harnessing the power of social media

The world is at our fingertips.  Especially my generation, the Millennials, have grown up with the advancing technology, even taking computer classes as eary as grade school.  This is why I think it is so important and one of the easiest things agriculturalists can do to agvocate and make a difference in consumers’opinion of how we raise our animals and grow our crops.

And when you think about it, how has PETA/HSUS and other anti-ag organizations managed to convince consumers of the “horrors “of agriculture? Mostly through social media.  The only TV  commercial I’ve seen is one for HSUS and that’s focusing mostly on dogs and cats.  Anti-ag organizations have already harnessed the power of social media – why shouldn’t we?

I’ve witnessed a huge rise in agriculture getting their fair share of social media and it excites me.  I want to see this trend keep growing because that is how we are going to reach consumers.

I currently volunteer as a Twitter moderator for the AgChat Foundation.  Every Tuesday evening at 7 pm Central/8 pm Eastern everyone who wants to join the chat on a specific topic of the week can follow #AgChat.

In college, I was an administrator for one of my organization’s Facebook page, so my track record with social media has gotten quite extensive.  So, I wanted to give my top 5 tips on agvocating and social media presence.  Here goes!

  1. Don’t apologize – share away! Any good post about agriculture is a good one to share.  Don’t hesitate or feel paranoid for being the crazy one that shares all the ag posts.  All the best people are the crazy ones. 😉 While I wouldn’t recommend sharing an ag post every single hour of the day (we all know how it annoying it is to see someone go way overboard), a few a day? Hell yes (pardon my language).
  2. Follow, follow, follow! On every social media account you have, follow as many ag companies, organizations, and farms you can! Not only are they a great source for posts to share, but you never know if you may find your next job or volunteer opportunity! In addition to that, on Facebook, there are so many groups to join that give great tips and insight, as well as the freedom to share your own thoughts and questions to a group with a common interest and endless knowledge from across the world! I absolutely love the Women in Agriculture group, as well as Dairy Girl Network.  There are so many more groups, and one for every flavor! All it takes is a little keyboard time in the search box.
  3. Agvocate to your strengths.  Do you love taking pictures at the county fair or of the cute things your calves do or a beautiful corn field during harvest time? Instagram is your place! Do you like keeping things short, sweet, and to the point? Tap into twitter! Are you an expert at organizing boards and finding good solid articles or pictures? Become a Pinterest pro! Whatever social media platform you love the best, use that to your advantage! You’ll be way more inspired to agvocate when you don’t feel pressured that you have to tweet, pin, and post on everything every day.  If we all played to our strengths on social media, think of the mass amount of agriculture that would blow every platform up every day!
  4. Be aware of your social media personality. Outside of your agriculture posts, pins, and pictures, be mindful of what else you post.  There are undoubtedly going to be people you don’t know very well or don’t know at all that follow or friend you and if you are agvocating, you don’t want to undermine yourself.  Our social media pages are our own personal pages and I’m not trying to tell everyone what they can and cannot post, however, if you post something about antibiotic use in livestock and then the next thing on your profile is a picture of that one night you had a few too many and you made friends with a trashcan, think of what someone would think.  Think of the overall message your profiles on your social media accounts send to followers and friends.
  5. Stay positive. No matter whether you want to rant about something, or are commenting on someone’s post about how cruel farmers are to their animals, stay positive and diplomatic.  No one is going to respect you or listen to what you know if you are mixing in expletives and name calling.  I know, I know, it’s hard when someone attacks an industry you love, but you have to take the higher road.  Every farmer and agriculturalist struggles with it (if you join an ag group you’ll see many a post about this same topic!) but it is necessary to get a positive view of agriculture.

I hope these little tips helped, I wanted to try and think of things that were more unorthodox and less of the common sense things.  I hope I got you to think a bit.  And with that, my friends, I leave you until next time.  Agvocate on!

 

❤ Meg

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Dear Consumer

Hey All!

I hope you had a fun and safe Halloween with your families! And now that fall is approaching, I hope you all are enjoying your favorite fall time activities – feel free to share in the comments what yours is!

My dad is an avid Farm and Dairy reader.  The Farm and Dairy is a family-owned company that puts out newspaper publications both in print and online to rural communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  The Farm and Dairy is published every week.  Last week, Dad told me that I absolutely had to read one of the articles.  I found out rather quickly why he said that.

The article was written by Kate Lambert, a Missouri farmer that also works in the agrifinancial field.  She has a blog for her farm, Uptown Farms – http://www.uptownsheep.com.  Her article was entitled “Dear Consumer: They tell me not to get angry.  But sometimes I do. ” It was reprinted in the Farm and Dairy (with permission) from her blog.  The full article can be read here. Dear Consumer: They tell me not to get angry. But sometimes I do

The content of the article, I think, 1000% nailed why agriculturalists and farmers get so passionate and sometimes quite verbal when we see animal rights activists and certain restaurant  chains putting out their propaganda and animal welfare policies based on improper, incorrect information.  It’s been a hot topic of conversation, among especially the animal agriculture sector, that farmers need to get their stories out and properly educate consumers.

I just want to highlight and comment on some of the things she said in her article.

  • The marketing research tells me that I should focus on the positive when I address you….they tell me to only speak about things that directly impact you…the tell me not to talk about the science, because the emotional registers more.  They tell me not to talk too long or write too much, don’t have time.”

  • I get angry that marketing hides that all types of farming – from organic to conventional – use chemicals.  They do it SAFELY and minimally, but they use them.

  • I get angry that you do not understand that farmers only provide raw product and that once it leaves our farm, we are not responsible for what the food processors do to it.

  • I get angry that you try to compare the decisions you make about your garden, to the management decisions my family has to make for our farm.

  • If your garden has a bad crop, you go to the store.  If we have a bad crop, we stand to lose our farm, our house, our source of income.

  • I get angry when you talk to a guy at the farmers market, who grows 40 organic tomato plants in his backyard where his eight free range chickens live, and decide his opinion on agriculture policy is more trustworthy than mine.

  • I get angry that you think my cattle herd needs the same treatment as your toy poodle

  • I get angry that you want the latest and greatest gadgets in every aspect of your life, and then expect me to put on overalls and grab a pitchfork, and farm the way someone told you that your great-grandfather did in the 1940s.

And then she goes on to say that she knows that modern agriculture has failed to tell our story, that there is an overwhelming amount of information to digest and process fact from fiction, that nothing sells in the media more than fear, and, lastly, she calls on agriculture once more to continue the movement to share our stories in a positive way.

I wish I could have been the one to write that so eloquently.  I actually cut this article out of the Farm and Dairy, and, I’m not sure what I am going to do with it yet, but I wanted to save it.  It not only nails what brews inside our hearts as agriculturalists, but it also serves as a gentle  call to action to shape up as farmers and producers and fix how the world views agriculture.  I wish everyone could read this article, both farmers and consumers, and it might cause a few to stop and think.  It might cause some consumers to ask more questions, connect with more farmers.  It might cause some farmers to finally boot up that laptop computer and type up what their day is like. Just one small change at a time.

Throughout history, we have seen what the power of word can do to the masses, let’s not make agriculture an exception.  Speak up, get out, tell all.

See ya next time,

❤ Meg