Social media is under fire right now by mainstream media, corporations, the government, and even its users. While it can be a tool to connect and begin relationships online and IRL (in real life), it can also be used to hurt people, divide communities, and spread misinformation and fear.
Honestly, it’s all about how you choose to use it.
When it comes to connecting with our urban consumers and sharing your story about farm life, it’s helpful to understand what you are trying to accomplish.
You are not in social media to win an argument or prove that you are right in how you choose to farm. You are not here to prove that animal protein is superior to plant protein.
You are using social media to persuade others to see the world as you see it.
Here are some tips on how to win an argument — or at least a heated conversation — when you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone.
Never argue back when your goal is persuasion.
This is probably the toughest thing to do. We are hardwired to defend our positions and strike back when we feel our views are threatened.
But the important thing here (especially online) is that this is a losing proposition. No one will win here — what will happen is that everyone will see the back-and-forth shouting match that could escalate into name calling. I’m sure you’ve seen this hundreds of times on Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s even worse when people’s identities are anonymous, such as on Twitter and YouTube.
They will change their minds, but not because you demolished their belief system with reason, logic, and debate moves. They will change because of an internal epiphany that is closer to death/rebirth.
So, the main lesson here is “don’t fight back” unless you just want the adrenaline rush and don’t care if this person will hate both you and your cause.
Define what ‘win’ means to you.
What are you trying to accomplish and why in the world did you engage this person in the first place? You need to answer this before you engage someone.
If you are using social media to convince people that you are doing right by your animals and your land and are providing a nutritious product that has 13 essential nutrients, then fighting with them doesn’t match your actions. And it doesn’t match how they feel about farmers — they trust you over other industries, according to a recent Gallup survey. This also includes avoid fighting with other farmers in a public forum.
In the social media/digital world, there are considerations. You are probably arguing in front of two audiences: theirs and yours. Making a spectacle of the discussion doesn’t help your cause.
Also don’t consider email or direct messages to be private. I’ve seen many people say things in an email or direct message that got transferred (screenshot or copy/paste) directly into the limelight.
If I engage someone with an opposing viewpoint, I want to persuade them into doing something that is a “win” for me (even if it looks like I got roasted in the argument).
Use ‘yes, and’ to reframe for the ‘win.’
You need to disarm anger, reframe the context, and come at it from the “side door.”
You don’t engage head-on, you ignore irrationality, and because you’re so clear on your goal, you take your ego out of it.
Use the old improv theater tactic of never being negative yourself — say “Yes … AND …” while moving things toward the discussion you actually want to have.
You win because you reframed the argument, and you get what you want. You wanted to connect and share your story. You want to be a farmer who this person knows and can go to when they have questions.
Remember, if there is nothing you really want from someone, then don’t argue. But if this person has something you want, then you need to persuade and do it by not arguing.
Now, do I do this all the time? Nope. Do I still argue? Yep.
I’m human and I don’t always control my emotions as well as I should. But I do want you to understand that arguing passionately very rarely convinces anyone but the people who already agree that you are doing the right thing. You can see the polarization in politics, religion, music, etc.
But if you really want to persuade someone, then I suggest trying to incorporate the key messages above.