In the past, communication in farming was typically isolated. Social media can be a positive platform for agriculture to use to battle industry relevance, help to advance development, add value to the ag business and change the
behavior of our audience.
What social media tool is best, what are the positives and negatives of social media, are there any guidelines to follow, and so on.
Communication today through the tools of social media gives more access, quicker access, connects people around the world, gives agriculture an equal voice, helps revolutionize ag business, gives increased transparency, provides
consumer insight, offers educational opportunities, and enables real-time global news; giving the Agricultural Community the vision that “It’s A Small World”.
However, be careful what you post because it can also open avenues for those that wish to exploit your news to push their own agendas
It’s the first thing many of us check in the morning to get quick updates on viral news, see what’s happening in the local area and what’s happening in the industry. It’s the place many of us go for entertainment and education. It’s
certainly a place we go when we are looking to buy because anything from small kitchen appliances to large farm machinery can be researched and reviewed on social media.
You know how to use social media in your personal life. But do you know how to use social media for your business? Below are three challenges to encourage you to start using social media to benefit your farming operation.
First, social media has changed the game when it comes to awareness of your operation. By nature of the business, farms tend to be away from where people can visibly see them. Awareness is not created by people simply driving
by. Historically, farms that needed to promote products had to do so by more traditional media outlets or by being physically present at events.
Livestock farmers typically relied on print media as their traditional media source. While still impactful today, print media has its limitation, including cost and audience. You can only reach existing subscribers and it’s costly to advertise
consistently, which is what it takes for awareness. The same is true for events such as shows, sales and meetings. Those events have tremendous and irreplaceable value to our industry, but also come with their own limitation such as cost and time commitment.
According to Statista, 77% of Americans are on social media. With this exposure, a farm can create awareness by the click of a few buttons. Effective social media managers can reach thousands of people per day with awareness on who the farm is, what they offer and where they are located. By using content that resonates with your target audience, you can quickly build awareness among thousands who never knew you existed.
Treat your social media presence like you would a booth at an event where all your customers are. Work it to build awareness of who you are and what you do.
A strong social media presence does not stop with just creating awareness. Additionally, it should give you an opportunity to share your story. This is important in agriculture. Agriculture is a very relationship-based industry – we prefer to do business with people we like, people we know have shared values with us. Social media allows farms to go beyond advertising the who, what and where. It allows farmers to share their history, traditions, goals and more. Those who use social media effectively, leave their followers with a feeling of connectedness and those followers will seek you out to do business.
Before posting any content, ask yourself these questions: Is it true? Is it consistent with the brand image I have created? Does it add value to the conversation?
CHALLENGE 2: Don’t only talk about what’s for sale. Use social media to tell your story to your followers.
Once you become effective at awareness, the next step is to use your social media presence to showcase yourself as a thought-leader for your industry. Social media platforms have made it easier than ever to share your thoughts and
build influence within your industry.
But be cautious. Creating thought-provoking content on social media can come with a lot of drawbacks as well. Before posting any content, ask yourself these questions: Is it true? Is it consistent with the brand image I have created?
Does it add value to the conversation? And finally, my own personal test, “Would my father, boss and preacher approve of this content?”
If your content passes all those tests, then start posting.
CHALLENGE 3: Create thought-provoking, valuable content that will build your influence.
As stated above, many people use social media, but some of them use social media poorly. You can quickly sort yourself, and your business, to the top, by becoming a master user of the most relevant platforms.
Communications and social media are fast and changing in today’s swine industry. There are new and exciting ways that we, as members of the swine industry, can take to help the public learn more about the ways of pig farming through social media. As a college student, I believe there are fresh, exciting approaches that we can take to better communicate pig farming and the techniques used to produce some of the world’s highest quality protein.
Social media is a great tool to make connections. I am sure we have all reconnected with a long-lost friend from high school, or recently added a new friend onto our page, whom we met at a conference. These connections and others are important in building our networks, and the more people we connect with, the more we can share our story.
In fact, as a college student, it is a great time for me to make connections in the swine industry, but also outside of agriculture! The campus is such a diverse place where we can meet people from all walks of life and create bonds and connections that can help us better promote the pork industry. We can also create relationships anywhere from the gym to the school playground and making the connection allows us to reach more people to allow them to learn about the swine industry.
When we break it down, we can post on social media, and then those who have an established relationship with us are willing to reach out and ask questions. There are times my phone cannot be passed around quickly enough to look at the pictures of baby pigs. Many consumers want to know where their food comes from and young professionals who will be graduating will incorporate social media more and more into their jobs and lives. They will be sharing with those previously created relationships about the pork industry and will be able to convey the message that producers want to share with their audience.
Social media can also play a role in the pork industry sharing more in-depth information about the pork industry. How can we help consumers understand? Virtual farm tours could be a key to overcoming this challenge and to show a swine facility. Even speaking with agriculturalist can help many consumers understand pork and reasons behind actions. These tours can help those outside of the swine industry have a clearer understanding and answer some of their questions.
Not only can these tours be uploaded to places like social media platforms, but we can also connect with schools, 4-H clubs, or FFA chapters to show off swine facilities and how we provide the best care for our pigs. There are even programs through Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation that can help you succeed in virtual farm tours! This tool can truly allow swine producers to share their story.
Being a student at Iowa State University, I can have a lot of access to activities and events that promote the swine industry. One of the most exciting events that promote pork products is the Iowa State University Bacon Expo! I love this event because it brings together media promotion, events, and of course, bacon! This event is coordinated by Iowa State students who have a passion for the pork industry and promoting pork products. There are many things to try like bacon cupcakes, normal bacon, or even bacon macaroni and cheese. Food is a great way to make connections and allows us to try new things. Events like the Iowa State University Bacon Expo allow promotion of pork products and brings many people from the community to learn about bacon and how it travels from farm to fork.
There are many ways that as individuals in the pork industry we can promote pork and help to share our story with consumers. New and innovative ways like virtual farm tours and food festival events are ways the next generation will contribute to promoting our industry. It is important to be creative and innovative to share our story. By developing relationships, we can share our story with more people. Communications is fast pace and changing, and the young leaders of tomorrow will be changing the way we share our story.
Kate Lambert did not grow up on a farm but gives credit to the National FFA for sparking her love of agriculture. When she graduated high school she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the agriculture. Today, Kate serves as the Director of Marketplace Education and Engagement for FCS Financial, a Farm Credit Cooperative that covers 102 counties in Missouri. Kate and her husband Matt raise corn, soybeans, wheat and hay as well as commercial Red Angus cattle and registered Hampshire Sheep. Kate is passionate about being a voice for farm families.
Morgan hails from Southwest Wisconsin, where she got her start in agriculture on her family’s dairy farm. She had the desire to learn more about agriculture and joined 4-H and FFA. Her passion for the swine industry started while showing pigs, judging livestock, and participating in skill-a-thon events. From there she became passionate about communications after serving as a Wisconsin State FFA Officer. She is a student at Iowa State University majoring in Agricultural Communications with a minor in Animal Science. She loves combining her passions for pork and communicating whenever possible.