With more people getting their news from social media and looking to their friends’ posts for answers on the latest topics, Animal Agricultural Alliance encourages farmers and ranchers to open their barn doors on social.
“We know they are busy out in the fields and they don’t have time to be on social media, but really they should implement it into their business plans to secure the future of animal agriculture and of their farms,” said Casey Whitaker, Communications Manager, Animal Agricultural Alliance.
So where do you start? Whitaker offers some simple tips for farmers and ranchers to get started on social:
Pick one channel.
Don’t try to be an expert on all of them at once. Pick the channel you think you will get the most attention on whether that be Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
Share what you are doing every day.
Whitaker says share those photos and videos of your farm chores. Things that might seem every day and mundane to you might be super interesting to someone who has never been to a farm before. And it’s a way to reach immediate neighbors. As Whitaker points out, while your farm might be next door, your neighbors might not have too much experience with farming.
“It’s really just a way to build relationships with your community and with your surrounding neighbors to share what you are doing so when they do have questions about how animals are raised or how their food gets from the farm to the fork, they can come to you to ask those questions,” Whitaker said.
To reach a larger audience, Whitaker said you need to be engaged on the platforms that offer that opportunity. For example, if you are on Twitter, get involved in those twitter chats. Use relevant hashtags.
“A lot of people that are interested in food are not necessarily interested in agriculture, but they are interested in food so share some food stories in addition to your agricultural practices,” Whitaker said.
Join a group like College Aggies Online
Since College Aggies Online launched in 2009, nearly 6,000 college students have participated. The nine-week program prepares students to become lifelong advocates for agriculture and is filled with assignments for individuals such as blog posts, infographics, and photo contests. Club members are challenged to host farm tours, school visits, guest speakers, food drives, and more.
“It’s really just a program to arm students with the skills, the resources, the confidence to get out there and share agricultural stories, to agvocate, and ensure the facts and the science,” Whitaker said. “We know when students go away to campus, it is really the first time they are making their own food purchasing decisions without the influence of their parents. Activist organizations know this as well so they are on campuses sharing videos and their messages.”
Around 300 students competed this year in the College Aggies Online individual division while 30 student organizations competed in the club division. The participants represented 43 states and 89 different universities.
“This year the students were super engaged — the most engaged group we have ever had — so it is really going to be exciting to see what next year’s group brings to the table,” Whitaker said. “Every year we teach them a lot of things but they actually teach us a lot of things as well about social media and the passion for the industry they have.”