When you think about which industries best take advantage of social media, agriculture may not immediately come to mind. But farmers are increasingly discovering the myriad benefits of embracing social tools like Facebook and Twitter.
Larry Sailer, a 60-year-old crop farmer who was one of AgIowa’s 15 speakers, told the Des Moines Register that he uses Twitter and Facebook to educate politicians, dietitians, and consumers about his work.
As in other industries, there’s a generational gap within agriculture, he explained. “Older guys, they can’t see the value,” Sailer said. “Some of these guys have not even started using computers. To have a smartphone would be unheard of.”
Nevertheless, Sailer encourages tech-phobic farmers to adopt social media. “It might have started out as just a social-type tool for college kids,” he said, “but it has turned into a valuable tool for farmers.”
Grist profiled a 35-acre Wisconsin farm that has lost this year’s crop of greens. Owners Bob and Jen Borchardt hope to recover some of their losses through a series of fundraisers — and they’re spreading the word through a video and social media campaign.
Supported by tweets and Facebook posts directing people to the video, the couple received $10,000 during the campaign’s first 10 days.
Using online outreach isn’t simply about asking for help, however. Social media can help farmers communicate with each other — to commiserate about this summer’s miserable conditions, for example — and with consumers to explain what’s going on behind the scenes.
As Angela Rester, the executive director of Wisconsin’s Wellspring organic farm, told Grist, “when it comes to something like the drought, words alone can’t describe it.”
“People need pictures and videos so they can see it, see what’s actually happening,” she explained. “So in that sense, social media has given us a human face.”