Social media butterflies? Get over it


“Have you seen this?” The Twitter direct message from John Blue of Truffle Media asked. “Indiana Fair Oaks Farm video.” And it gave the link.

A few minutes later, I read this message from David Brown (@tvfarmer) of Decatur, Ill.: “June issue of National Geographic, ‘The End of Plenty’ is a must read. The need for another green revolution is now. Keep growing!!”

There were interesting farm conversations and messages flying all around the Twitterverse last night. Just as there are 24/7.

Welcome to the world of social media. To Facebook. To Twitter. To YouTube.

This week, Emily Caldwell starts a two-part series on social media in agriculture — what is it and who’s using it. And why. Good questions that sometimes defy answers until you can demonstrate it on the computer.

(Read Part I of “Cultivating Connections”)

Maybe the best way I can explain it is to ask another question: How quickly does information travel today? Answer: As fast as it takes to punch in a text message on a phone, or whip off a quick online instant message. Then, like the old TV commercial, “they tell two friends and then they tell two friends and then…”

Marketers call it “viral influence,” or the ability to quickly and easily share information and ideas that influence the way large numbers of people think or act.

We saw it in the news world earlier this spring when Air Force One did a low fly-by (part of a photo shoot) that startled many New Yorkers. The news went from an individual’s Tweet, or Twitter message, to substantiated news in 4 minutes. Four minutes.

But it’s not always news that flies through the air with the greatest of ease — falsehoods or incorrect impressions can also swing through the online trapeze. And that’s why it’s critical that agriculture try to be part of that communication chain. Trust me, certain activist groups are using social media to spread a message that is anti-agriculture. If a farm voice isn’t also in the loop, that could be the only message someone hears.

There she goes again, telling us we need to tell our story.

But you do. And I know you can do it.

Promoting ag should be on your chore list,” S.D. cattle producer Troy Hadrick Tweeted earlier this week.

“We need 2B wherever anti-ag is — plenty of that on SM [social media].”

It’s not, however, just a forum for venting. Social media offers immediate ways to meet new people, to network professionally and socially. There are great folks out there to learn from, to learn with, to help.

And just like networking face to face, or over the phone, networking with people you’ve connected with through social media is just as beneficial. They’re a lifeline in this strange new online world as well as in our physical agricultural world — our comfort zone. We’ve already used these new connections to develop story ideas or to understand new concepts, and I have no doubt that I could get more direct help from many of the individuals who follow Farm and Dairy on Twitter or Facebook.

It’s kind of like your neighborhood just grew bigger. Lots bigger. And it’s kind of nice to think that someone in California who I’ve never met has my back.

I realize that all you really want to do is to raise your crops or your animals or your produce in peace. Ignoring those who would threaten your livelihood, however, is not an option.

You have to ignore your social butterflies and just do it.


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  1. Your article has some great examples of why farmers need to be engaged in social media to make sure they tell their story so that someone doesn’t tell it for them.

    Two years ago, people weren’t talking about Twitter. Now look at it, even farmers are using it to keep in touch and educate consumers about farming.

    “Welcome to the world of social media. To Facebook. To Twitter. To YouTube.”

    Now there is a new social networking site created by farmers for farmers that offers powerful tools for farmers to tell their stories and keep in touch. would like to invite you to get your own blog, set up groups, and forums for free. Please tell your farming and non-farming friends about, and sign up to check out what it offers. Two years from now, you’ll be able to say you were one of the founding members.


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