June 15, 2016

Social Soil: The Power of Social Media in Agriculture

*Welcome to Social Soil - a series of social media posts for farmers. Whether you're a seasoned social media veteran or just trying to start, we want to help farmers with their "ag+advocacy" skills ("AGvocacy") so together we can promote Nebraska corn and agriculture.*

In our Social Soil series, we’ve talked about how farmers and ranchers can use Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging, videos and 2016 social media trends to help our whole industry tell its story.

So how does the power of social media really share the story of what farmers and rancher do?

Social media is all about people. It is a way to build relationships, share information and connect with diverse audience of people you may never meet in real life. So, interacting on social media, whether it is Facebook, YouTube or Instagram, allows you to develop a community and share your story in a way that was never possible before. The general public still has faith in farmers and ranchers, but some are still wary of modern farm practices. It is important that agriculture unites and it has a chance to tell its side of the story. Social media is one way to make your voice heard in the 98% of the population that don’t raise food.

A great example proving the power of social media in agriculture is the AgChat Foundation. Started with engaged conversations on Twitter with the #AgChat hashtag, it has grown into a community where agriculture works together to touch millions of people only connected with farms because they eat. The Foundation is designed to serve as a conduit for those farmers and ranchers as it empowers them to become agvocates.

#AgChat is a moderated conversation that is hosted weekly on Twitter that covers topics from animal welfare to perceptions of farming to communications to agronomy to USDA programs, etc. The goal is to have an open dialogue where everyone is included who uses the hashtag. #AgChat has a sister chat - #FoodChat - a monthly conversation tailored more specifically to the interests of consumers, nutrition professionals, foodies and influencers of food choices.

The best way to utilize the power of social media as a farmer/rancher is to share about and have conversations about what you know best. Maybe you are a guru with using drones, or know every weed there is known to man in your head, or you can easily talk about why you use antibiotics with your cattle. Whatever it is, try to focus in on using your skills and knowledge of this topic to your advantage.

One agvocate, Dr. Channa Prakash, took home the Borlaug CAST Communication Award at the World Food Prize for his use of social media to share agriculture facts. He is a guru on ag biotechnology, so he manages a reputable Twitter account under the name of @agbioworld and focus on those messages.

“You’ll be surprised as to how quickly you’ll become well known or popular in a way,” Prakash said in an agriculture.com interview. “It depends on the messaging, your passion, and your knowledge of the issues.”

Prakash’s tips for social media success:

  1. Jump right into it! Begin posting about what concerns and excites you.
  2. Begin developing a like-minded audience.
  3. Take note of what issues consistently come up.
  4. Create a hashtag to help others connect to your platform.
  5. Enjoy popularity.

Prakash’s tips can easily be transferred to creating videos to share on YouTube or Facebook, or pictures to put on Instagram or Pinterest.

How will you utilize the power of social media? Learn more here: Power of Social Media in Agriculture.

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