This is a guest post by Iain Robson of MyFarmEducation.ca
Twitter is my go to social media platform because it allows me to find and connect with a broad scope of people very easily. Recently I have been interested in learning more about farming and my research eventually took me to Twitter to see who I could connect with. I was surprised to be able to connect with a number of great farmers – some even worth “high-fiving” for their use of social media! I say this because when you think of Twitter, farming isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as a topic of discussion!
How can you find people to connect with?
To find specific, interesting people that are passionate about a topic (for instance, farming) I use search tools like the Twitter discovery feature or independent apps like Follower Wonk. I particularly like Follower Wonk because it allows me to search within profile bios for specific words. For example, I recently did a search for “cash-crop farmers” and found a remarkably large number of relevant people to connect with. You can narrow your search even more and filter by location to find the exact type of people you want to chat and connect with.
Knowledge is power
Because you can connect with virtually anyone on social media, you can also see what your competition is up to. Monitor your competition to find out what you do better than them, and what you need to work on.
Use social media to find and answer questions from clients, customers and end users. By answering questions, you strengthen the connection you have with your audience – which can lead to strong brand loyalty and better consumer education. It’s a win-win situation!
One of the most prominent hashtags for farmers is #agchat. Founded in 2009 as a way of connecting farmers to discuss current issues they still hold a weekly moderated chat on Tuesdays at 20:00 EST. The chat covers various topics on agriculture and provides a venue for farmers to connect with each other. #AGChat is part of a grass roots effort specifically to connect agriculture and urban communities through social media. A recent #AGChat topic for example was: “What are the good agricultural conferences? Why you go, or what keeps you from going?” Great discussions that Farmers might not be able to have anywhere else and reap the same kind of valuable info and insight.
Agvocacy (yes, the “ag” is intentional) is a term referring to agriculture advocates. Social media is a key part of agvocacy and Farmers are using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to spread the word about what actually happens on the farm. Agvocacy has risen to such a level of sophistication that there is now training available for Farmers that want to get more involved. The idea is to educate farmers to use social media, so they can share what they know about farming and educate people on what is actually happening, where their food comes from, and what it takes to get it to their table. They are trying to “put a face to the plate.”
There are many misconceptions floating around and farmers are a doing their best to prove some vicious rumours wrong. CTV’s W5 recently ran a story that portrayed pig farmers in a very negative light and the farming community is now using social media to fight back and show the other half of the story and their take on things. Not all pig farmers are the same, and there are many good pig farmers out there. By leverage social media they are taking the not-so-proverbial bull by the horns and getting their story out there.
Social media is an important platform that no industry can ignore. Farmers included. Build communities, strengthen your connection with your audience and, like farmers, don’t leave your story untold.