Twitter is a very useful social media platform used to foster and maintain relationships via the exchange of 140 characters or less messages, or tweets. The site has been utilized by many to creatively share information with the twitter public and garner a following of users whom are all commonly interested in their posts’ content. However, farmers are some of the last ones to adopt this valuable networking tool, despite its multiple uses. Farmers and agricultural professionals in general should start using twitter in order to more easily educate and facilitate relationships with the general public.
Twitter is the third most popular social media site, with over a billion users and 255 million active monthly users. (Digital Insight). Such a substantial audience is very useful for communicators and public relations professionals, and can be for farmers as well. A single tweet has the potential to be seen by tens or hundreds of thousands of users, making it possible to convey a message directly to more people than ever before.
There are many different ways one can send a message on twitter. According to the article “A Little Birdie Told Me About Agriculture:Best Practices and Future Uses of Twitter in Agricultural Communications”, there are many different types of user intentions on the site. These intentions include reporting the news, participating in the common chat of the site by reading others tweets, engaging in conversations by replying to posts, and sharing information, photos, and links to outside information sources.
Will Gilmer, a Dairy Farmer and Sulligent, Alabama native uses his Twitter to give his followers an idea of the daily procedures and occurrences of farm life, such as calf births, cow vaccinations, etc. Gilmer believed it to be the farmer’s responsibility to update consumers and let them see how animals are handled. In an interview with FarmWeek, Gilmer said of whose role it is to inform the public as to where their milk comes from: “It might as well be us”. The rest of Gilmer’s twitter story can be seen here:
It is drastically important that the consumer be informed by the farmer and not a third party considering that now, more than ever, consumers are doubting legitimacy of farming practices in a field that is becoming increasingly controversial. Twitter provides an outlet in which farmers can not just deliver a message to the public, but also receive feedback on the deliverance of the message. This feedback allows Farmers to maintain relationships with the people they serve by answering their questions about farm life and genuinely interacting with their audience. This two-way relationship farmers maintain on the site can lead to more favorable opinions of farm practices and farmers themselves.
As stated in the Article “To Bother or Not to Bother? Media Relationship Development Strategies of Agricultural Communication Professionals”, “Existing research suggests that effective media relations can enhance the amount of media coverage devoted to agricultural information.” Therefore, effective media relations, such as the ones farmers have with their followers on twitter, can lead to an increase in general interest in agriculture and its coverage. If people see interesting stories regarding farm life, they will be more inclined to demand more media coverage of farm-related events.
Farmers can benefit from tweeting in numerous ways. Tweeting can help to educate the public real-time on farming practices, lead to a more positive public opinion of agriculture, and create relationships with followers that can help to eliminate controversy within the agricultural field. So why wouldn’t they take advantage of this useful tool, especially in a time where mobile technology and personal computers are at their most accessible? We’ve gone digital, and it’s about time farmers did the same.
Daily insight info-graphic: http://blog.digitalinsights.in/social-media-users-2014-stats-numbers/05205287.html
FarmWeek “Dairyman Uses Social Media to Tell Public About Agriculture” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXpYw0W1Ylg
“A Little Birdie Told Me About Agriculture:Best Practices and Future Uses of Twitter in Agricultural Communications”: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/230888183_A_Little_Birdie_Told_Me_About_Agriculture_Best_Practices_and_Future_Uses_of_Twitter_in_Agricultural_Communications
“To Bother or Not to Bother? Media Relationship Development Strategies of Agricultural Communication Professionals”: http://journalofappliedcommunications.org/images/stories/issues/2008/jacv92n3-4.pdf