By Blair McCowen
#Yes! Believe it or not, social media has many uses in the world of agriculture. Yet another tool that allows people to share their stories with the masses, there is a platform for everyone and every need. Think of social media as a networking tool that takes the effort out of physically building connections – an effective agricultural message can reach thousands of people within minutes, whereas meeting thousands of people would take a lifetime.
Share the story. Educate others about agriculture. Bring a different way of thinking into the 21st century. Will it work – better yet, does it work? Yes.
In recent years, researchers have begun to look into how people interact with social media content as well as why some posts reach more people than others. Researchers from Stanford University found posts that are relatable, have personality, and are highly visual stand out among the rest, proving that with these characteristics any message can transcend generations and cultures. Further, researchers in the United Kingdom specifically looked into social media use in their agricultural realm and found the following:
“Increased information flow is important if the industry is to survive and communicate with suppliers, customers and consumers. This is partly in response to public and political pressures for quality control, but also because of the need for sustainable intensification of agribusiness in response to a growing population, resource utilization and environmental impacts.”
Though in a different climate, the findings of this research still hold true for American agriculture. As members of society desire to learn more about the sources of their food and fiber, agriculturists are presented with a unique opportunity to provide them with such and to tell their story on their terms. Researchers also said social media has revolutionized the way businesses communicate with consumers, and agriculture must follow the trend in order to achieve maximum transparency, engagement and trust with the public. The proof is in the pudding – social media has a place in agriculture.
Many agricultural businesses are already utilizing social media to communicate directly with their audiences and alleviate concerns about genetically modified organisms, lack of sustainable farming practices, pesticide applications and much more. All that is left to do is for producers to take to social media and do the same – debunk myths, share the triumphs and trials of farm life, and educate those outside the industry, but most of all, affect change in a way that is quite literally at our fingertips.
Wyn Morris, Penri James, (2017) “Social media, an entrepreneurial opportunity for agriculture-based enterprises”, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 24 Issue: 4, pp.1028-1045, https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-01-2017-0018
Lee, D., Hosanagar, K., & Nair, H. S. (2018). Advertising content and consumer engagement on social media: evidence from Facebook. Management Science.