Once upon a time, farmers would network by gathering at the feed mill to discuss the weather or agricultural trends. Socializing face-to-face was how information was passed along. But the world has changed, and now digital communication is taking to the forefront with new tools such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and blogs.
So why should farmers, ranchers, and other agribusinesses care about social media? Simply put: influence. Consumers frequently use social media not only to connect with producers but also to educate themselves on products they might be interested in.
On the flip side, while many growers have embraced the technology tools available for their operations, they often eschew the use of social media, instead questioning its relevance in agriculture. However, with 217 million users sending 500 million tweets per day, the impact of social media cannot be ignored.
Twenty years ago, sources of news related to agriculture were limited to trade publications and mass media outlets, where technical sources, such as websites, were limited to the niche markets they served. But as technological savvy has increased across all demographic areas, the former “niche” market of the web has expanded to encompass every topic, and they are available to anyone, from the deeply entrenched to the mildly curious.
It’s important to realize that with social media, it’s not only the information that is valuable but also the conversations around that information. In the past, when a new variety was developed or a new pest was encountered, those topics were discussed by the traditional means, face to face, or in trade publications. But when these conversations occur on social media, the information reaches beyond the involved parties and is available to any consumer who might be interested in farm-to-table produce or any grower who is seeing the early stages of a blight you recently treated.
Social media also helps to break down barriers like distance, both physical distance and the newly minted “social distance,” allowing growers and ranchers to reach a wider audience than ever.
This article is sponsored by Labor Solutions, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of Central Florida Ag News or of its advertisers.
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Arcadia, and Plant City. You also can visit his Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch online at www.DH-LR.com. A cattle rancher and citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.