A quartet of agricultural social media “rock stars” offered tips and encouragement to farmers and ranchers at a strategic engagement conference during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s ninety-fourth Annual Meeting.
“Social media allows us to be part of the conversation,” said Ryan Goodman, a cattle rancher from Arkansas who created the AgricultureProud.com blog and is a guest contributor to CNN’s Eatocracy blog.
“Consumers are already talking about what we’re doing on the farm and ranch. Through social media we can have direct access to people with questions,” Goodman said.
Zach Hunnicutt, a Nebraska farmer who was recently elected chairman of AFBF’s national Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, explained that he is able to advocate for agriculture by “giving a tour of my farm every day using Facebook and Instagram.”
“Be positive all the time, and be passionate when advocating for agriculture on social media,” advised Hunnicutt. “It draws people in.”
Setting up a business page on Facebook for your farm is a strategy Janice Person of Monsanto recommends. Having a business page means your farm can be found on Internet search engines. And it addresses privacy concerns many people have -- you can share family photos and stories only on your personal page, for example.
“Interacting on Facebook with people in your community, at church and with college friends is a great way to get started,” Person said. From there, interest in a farmer’s Facebook page often grows dramatically in concentric circles, Person has found. A Colorful Adventure is her personal blog.
“Be consistent with social media and you will build community,” said Katie Pinke, author of the Pinke Post blog. “Especially if you’re just starting out, concentrate on doing just one or two things well,” she added.
Pinke, who started her blog several years ago as a “lonely pregnant woman on the prairie trying to find friends,” offered encouragement to those in agriculture who may be hesitant to get started in social media. “What you do does not necessarily have to be fancy or flashy.”
All of the panelists have found that engaging in conversations on social media about non-farming subjects at least part of the time helps increase outreach. Cooking, recipes, kids, sports, music, travel and photography are among the topics they have successfully used for this.
The session was moderated by Melissa Burniston of Tennessee Farm Bureau.
Visit the Annual Meeting Blog at http://farmbureau.wordpress.com for on-the-ground perspectives from guest bloggers (including all four panelists) about social media and the latest happenings in Nashville.