The marriage of agriculture and social media likely conjures up images of crop seeding on Farmville, but socially savvy agribusinesses are proving that the connection runs much deeper than the popular Zynga game.
A 2011 study by the American Farm Bureau Federation revealed that of the 98 percent of farmers and ranchers ages 18-25 who have Internet access, 76 percent of them use social media. The agribusiness industry often gets a bad rep for being “behind the times,” an assumption that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In reality, agribusinesses have taken social media by storm as a channel that is revolutionizing both B2B and B2C communications for the industry.
Education a Key Driver
The agribusiness social media movement is in part due to the efforts of groups like the AgChat Foundation whose mission is to “empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms.”
The foundation serves as an educational resource designed to equip farmers and ranchers with the necessary skill set to engage with both businesses and consumers via social channels. The foundation’s website is full of useful tips and information that can benefit anyone from Twitter newcomers to blogging veterans looking for a new ways to use social media to interact with fellow farmers and consumers alike.
The takeaway is that sometimes it isn’t a resistance to technology that keeps a group or industry out of social media, but rather a lack of knowledge of how to productively use digital outreach for tangible business benefits. Marketers working in notoriously non social media friendly industries can learn from the way AgChat has made social channels not only accessible, but as a means for focused outreach.
One way the AgChat Foundation is working to get people talking is through weekly #AgChats on Twitter, held Tuesdays from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern time. These chats have seen more than 2,000 participants from seven countries and four continents.
#AgChat is moderated by a different agricultural professional each week, with recent chats being led by industry leaders like prime rib and hamburger farmer Darin Grimm (@kansfarmer) and #AgChat founder and agriculture advocate Michele Payn-Knoper (@mpaynknoper). #AgChat serves as a helpful forum to share stories, discuss the future and learn more about the status of current issues.
From an agribusiness marketing perspective, joining these Twitter chats provides participants great insight into the industry, and also gives farmers a chance to prove their thought leadership in a public forum. For farmers trying to build their businesses, looking into moderating or even just participating in these chats can be a great way to network within the field and gain respect and recognition from peers, a lesson that certainly transcends the agricultural industry.