Agvocacy Online

You have spent a great deal of time during this class looking at good and bad examples of social media use in agriculture, and in more general terms.

What advice would you give to agriculturists considering using social media for their agribuisnesses or simply to share their farm stories?

What are the best practices that should be emphasized?

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About cdgibsonttu

Instructor in Agricultural Communications, Ph.D., Proud Red Raider (Wreck 'Em Tech!), Dog mom to two spoiled Jack Russells, Wife, Agvocat, Believer, Texan

Posted on August 1, 2014, in Discussion Question. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Social media: the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly. We have all experienced social media at its finest and at it’s worst. Social media is crucial in the agricultural industry and will be necessary to reach the younger generations. But social media in agriculture can get ugly. When people post pictures, videos, and posts pertaining to animals then it can lead to many issues with PETA and HSUS. These activists look extremely hard to find fault in our industry and when we give it to them through social media- well it makes their day! We have to understand what is and what isn’t appropriate for social media. Some things just are not okay and if you have to think about it before posting it then just don’t. Our industry gets knocked down daily and farmers and ag people can save ourselves some headaches by filtering what information we provide to the public.

    Sharing the farm story is awesome, but just share what needs to be shared. Some things are not necessary and aren’t really worth it. I love reading blogs written by farmers and ag people and I appreciate when they make their posts reader friendly.My advice is to share what is acceptable and realize that social media is on the internet, it’s not in your private diary!

  2. The advice I would give someone about how to use social media, would be to embrace it, use it effectively, and gain followers. In this day and age, we cannot afford to have an absence on social media. It’s almost more noticeable if you don’t have some form of social media. People who are not present on social media, should select one platform and become a frequent and purposeful poster on that platform. Agricultural companies and farmers typically get a bad rap in the media because they just aren’t present to defend their side. If agribusiness and farming individuals can start using social media, posting frequently and being transparent to the general public, then they are already being successful.

    • You are definitely right- just being present at the table is important. The more farmers and agriculture businesses being advocates for themselves through something as simple as a Facebook page or Twitter account, the better. As more media outlets use social media to find their stories or sources, we need to make sure we are present.

  3. It’s better to tell your story than to have someone tell it for you. When using social media, best practices include:

    1) Picking the best social media outlet to serve your purpose. In doing this you really need to decide your objectives for utilizing social media. Is it to increase your brand awareness? Build better relationships with clientele or the public? What need can you help others satisfy or fulfill? Start with the end in mind. Clearly defining objectives and measurable tasks from the beginning will determine if you are meeting your purpose.

    2) Being genuine and consistent. Don’t pretend to do or be something you are not. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you make a promise, keep it. Regularly publishing media is the best way to keep your followers engaged. Encourage dialogue and feedback through comments on a consistent basis as well.

    3) Sharing and following others similar to you. This will increase your exposure while working together to build community. Mention them in your posts. Collaborate together to extend your audience’s reach. Being active shows your commitment to the cause and authenticity. Cross promote the social media platforms you are on in all of your advertising. On your website include links to your social media sites as any other sites with applicable information. Work together to hold promotions, contests, or giveaways.

  4. My advice would be to first make sure you know why you want to use social media- what is your ultimate goal or purpose for using it. Then pick which platform will work best for you based on this goal. Maybe it is just to share images of your farm life, so something like Instagram would work best, or maybe it is to write and tell your story so a blog would be a good idea. Then focus on your content.
    My biggest piece of advice is to not get hung up on the “trolls” as there will be people who will try to derail your conversation and upset you. Know that they are not the ones you are trying to reach- you are trying to reach the ones on the fence. Just keep doing what you are doing, but also have a plan of action for when a “troll” may get out of hand.
    Reach out to groups with your social media such as joining a mommy bloggers group or posting to a fitness chat about using food to fuel before a race. Try to connect with those outside of agriculture because they are your key influencers, and the ones who want to learn. We can’t just connect with other farmers/agriculturalists – we need to go “beyond the fence.”
    Some best practices to follow would be consistency. Try to keep up with your posting, but also don’t be afraid to admit when you have had to take or needed a break. If you are unsure of what you are writing- ask someone to read it over. Don’t be afraid to ask someone who is more of an expert than you in a topic area for pointers or advice on a post or blog. Keep going- even when you don’t think anyone is reading it. Someone is reading your stuff, so keep posting!

  5. 1. Use social media to encourage two-way communication with your audience. Twitter and Facebook can help foster meaningful communication with the public. I would suggest that they embrace the use of social media to promote the interaction between the agricultural industry and the general public.
    2. Be consistent and allow the general public to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Encourage participation industry wide in outreach programs at the local, state and national levels to help clean up the perception of the industry and build public brand equity.
    3. Ensure the message is relatable, and provide additional support information to help clear up any confusion. For example, a Youtube video could be created to demonstrate how the industry is using more efficient planting techniques to help deal with the drought. The video could be developed where it provides farmers, gardeners, and the general public the opportunity to collaborate.

  6. It is imperative that when advocating for your agribusiness or corporation that you ensure positive messages are being sent. In my experience, whatever material is going to be delivered must have a thorough analysis of the content before the implementation phase. This becomes very important in that your audience receives the correct messages, and that you reach your desired individuals. It cannot be taken for granted that the material delivered through social media means becomes misconstrued by potential or current customers. A best practice is to understand your audience and the content of which you want to deliver your message. This method will ensure that you have a successful launch and reach your desired audience to further your agribusiness or corporation.

  7. I would advise agriculturists considering the use of social media for business or sharing their story to be prepared to dedicate yourself and not give up, no matter how technologically outdated you feel. I would also tell them to look into workshops, such as the one Dr. Irlbeck talked about. I would tell them that although it can be a challenge, a strong online presence is becoming more of a requirement for being successful in today’s world.

    I would recommend beginning with a Facebook. This is the most familiar platform, in my opinion. However, as many people already have a network of acquaintances, it is easier to build upon that community and get your businesses name out there. Here, they should post advertisements, contests, or posts with their stories, regularly. They can also seek groups to join that have similar interests. Search for people in your target audience. Keep posts professional and short, but make sure to get your main points through. Once you’ve created a blog, you can use FB to post excerpts from your blog post with a link to your blog or site. There options, that cost money, to promote your page on FB also. Photos taken on Instagram can be shared easily, so be sure to link your FB and IG accounts.
    Second, although it has been hard for me to keep up with, I would advise creating a blog/website, such as WordPress. Here than create a page for their business or interests and share their experiences, pictures, products, and contact info. When considering creating a site, they should decided whether or not they are willing to invest money into it, or create a free one. Posts should go up about once a week. All social media links should be provided on this page, as well as a link to the site on social media profiles. Use tags and always remember to provide your location, if selling something.
    I would advise using Twitter to interact with other agriculturists in the industry. It helps not to feel so alone in your quest for broadcasting your passion. It is encouraging to see that there are people that care about what you do and have similar businesses or goals. Any and all other ag accounts should be followed, even if it is not relative to your field. There are also pages dedicated to giving people tips on PR, advertising, and other such things. Search for people in your target audience to follow as well. Use retweets and favorites, to interact with your online community.
    Last, I would recommend, for businesses, to look into getting your business featured on online local listings. I’m pretty green on how one would do this, but I have heard that Vistaprint can help. I want to be able to be found by people putting in a search using terms such as horses, horseback riding, lessons, and kids in Lamesa or West Texas. Post your business name, address, phone number, email and website. This makes it easier for prospective customers to find and contact you or view what you have to offer.

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