Attacks on local as well as larger agricultural operations by various animal rights groups are becoming far more familiar than anyone would like them to be. Some particularly noteworthy events have shown us that issues can take place anywhere, no matter how prepared you may be.
Agriculturists are constantly pushed to tell their story online, but what if it gets a little daunting? It can be, whether or not you are receiving negativity on your page. Putting yourself out there for the world to see can be one of the most scary, yet rewarding things you can do, even if you get some kickbacks relating to your lifestyle and career choices.
Whether you are already in the midst of social media or are thinking about jumping in, you’ll eventually find a need to change how you are doing things or just simply detox your account, so that you can have stress-free interactions on your social platforms.
So how do we stay positive amid it all? Here are some tips:
1. If you’re attracting activists or possibly even cyberbullies in which you know you will never make any headway with, avoid the arguments that carry on in the comments for eternity. The continuation of arguments that have no real value or reason will only get worse. Tactics such as these will trickle down and affect your entire audience, especially if you get testy with your trolls, which we all do. If the situation continues to deteriorate, you may have to begin blocking your haters.
2. Reply in helpful, thoughtful ways. It’s great to provide information, but do not solely focus on educating someone. By forcing education on a person, you can cause a defensive reply that may escalate quickly. Simply provide value, empathy, and make sure you’re on the same page. Without a willingness to understand another point of view, you will not carry out a conversation worth having. Not everyone has the connections to agriculture you have. Take a chance and influence someone else’s life. It’s important to remember that no matter how many followers you have, you’re still an influencer.
3. Keep your personal, mental health in check. Receiving constant attacks on social media can be disheartening. By using social media to share your story, you may find yourself feeling joy relating to digital storytelling, but you can also feel fear and resentment. Taking breaks from the social world will give your mind some peace and allow you to worry less about being attacked by someone you don’t even know personally.
4. Find your herd, or maybe you call it your tribe. We all have one — those people who support you, understand what you’re doing, and love being involved in everything you do. Many agriculturists support each other and their choices on production, so remember to do the same. There is no one specific way of doing things, so be open-minded and always try to find a way to work together.
As you continue to tell your story online, remember to always be respectful to other farmers, the audiences who truly care about what you’re doing, and to yourself. No matter what happens in the digital world, stay true to yourself and what you believe in. If you do not have a strong voice and presence, you will not make an impact.
Callie Taylor is a twenty-something West Virginia native content creator and digital strategist changing the face of brands in the agriculture and food space.