Agriculture Groups Can Find Voice in Social Media
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Agriculture Groups Can Find Voice in Social Media

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Presentation introducing audience to how some groups are using advocacy to reach and target large audiences.

Presentation introducing audience to how some groups are using advocacy to reach and target large audiences.

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  • Source: comScore Media Metrix –
  • The power of Twitter is in the conversation and community.  The conversation is happening with or without agriculture.  Communities are being engaged around issues such as animal rights, organics, GMOs, CAFOs sustainability, environmental regulations and other issues relevant to your business.  Misinformation about modern agriculture is being proliferated, such as a self-proclaimed farmer in NYC .  In the last 24 hours, I’ve– (Michelle Payne-Knoper) had a lively discussion about “factory” farms with people in the UK, L.A. New York City and Virginia. Are we going to change the minds of the extremists?  No, but we can at least get agriculture’s side of the story told far more effectively than what we have in mainstream media.  I’ve spent 8 years trying to help agriculture find its voice – and honestly can say I’ve never seen the engagement of different perspectives in the conversation like what has happened on Twitter. Twitter is pretty simple – you find people you’d like to learn more about and “follow” them.  You have 140 characters to communicate the info you want to share.  Farmers tweet from their tractors and barns, ag media people are tweeting the latest news you need, academia are sharing technical information and commodity groups are spreading information about the value of farm products. If you need some help, just come on over to one of my new “Techniques for Ag Tweeps & Tweets”  webinars.  Or, connect with me on Twitter . To tweet or not to tweet – it’s up to you, but if you’re in agriculture, I’d suggest you jump on the train before you look back and realize it’s run with conversations running rampant that further misconceptions of our business.  The power is in the people – and you hold those reins. Get started now…. http://twitter.com Source: Cause Matters Twitter: Twitters Business Value in Agriculture – Michelle Payne-Knoper When this question was posed on Twitter, “Why do you think Twitter is valuable to agriculture? Asking for responses back in 30 minutes, these are some of the responses she got back….
  • In the last year, many farm lobbying groups have established a presence on Facebook and Twitter in an effort to reach out to farmers. Americans farmers are old and getting older, with an average age of 57.1 in 2007, up from 55.3 in 2002. Social media, like most technology trends, is still thought of as the domain of young people, but the two fastest-growing age demographics on Facebook are 35- to 54-year-olds and those 55 and above, according to a Jan. 2009 analysis by iStrategyLabs, an online marketing company. "Every single advocacy group is thinking about how they can [use] social technology and social media to engage people who are passionate about their causes," said Peter Corbett, CEO of iStrategyLabs. "We don't have an excuse to think, 'We don't need to focus our marketing campaign there because our audience isn't there.' Because it is."
  • Before you wave it off as youth fad, the numbers below tell you that people 35 and older are driving the success of Twitter as a business tool. According to ComScore, college age and teenagers are 12% less likely to tweet than middle agers.
  • "A lot of people are confused about how to get value out of it." But the Ohio bureau has seen a surge in activity due to a controversial proposed amendment to the state constitution which would create a board with the power to regulate animal care of livestock. The ballot initiative is favored by farmers who see it as a safeguard against tougher animal care regulations proposed by organizations like the Humane Society. "We're seeing, on Facebook especially, members are becoming very, very active," Toland said. "More people are posting pictures of their 'Vote Yes for Issue 2' signs." OFBF posts videos of ads and announcements about upcoming rallies on its wall. and encourages people to post their own photos from rallies. It this kind of direct contact with supporters that makes social media an important and effective organizing tool, farm groups said. "We can write letters to the editor until we're blue in the face," said Tracy Grondine, director of media relations at the American Farm Bureau. "But it's a lot more efficient and effective to post directly on someone's site."  
  • The ballot initiative is favored by farmers who see it as a safeguard against tougher animal care regulations proposed by organizations like the Humane Society. "We're seeing, on Facebook especially, members are becoming very, very active," Toland said. "More people are posting pictures of their 'Vote Yes for Issue 2' signs." OFBF posts videos of ads and announcements about upcoming rallies on its wall. and encourages people to post their own photos from rallies. It this kind of direct contact with supporters that makes social media an important and effective organizing tool, farm groups said. "We can write letters to the editor until we're blue in the face," said Tracy Grondine, director of media relations at the American Farm Bureau. "But it's a lot more efficient and effective to post directly on someone's site."  
  • Ag groups are getting the message. A-FAN—the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska—is helping Nebraska farmers and ranchers protect and preserve the quality of life in rural communities through the development of responsible livestock production. Also has Facebook. Search Facebook for A-FAN. The American Farm Bureau Federation, active in social media for nine months, has engaged an even bigger share of the farming community. With 4,000 Facebook fans and nearly 2,300 followers on Twitter, the Farm Bureau created a social media committee to design rules of use. Independent Twitter user @farmfollower has put together a list of more than 500 fellow tweeters who share an interest in agricultural issues. Leading the pack on Twitter is the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, who has about 100 more followers than its national counterpart, despite only officially announcing their social media presence in June (they'd been tweeting unofficially since last November). "We know that we can't reach the people we need to reach by just posting up on our Web site and hoping they find it through Google or a search engine," said communications specialist Dan Toland, who spearheaded the group's social media effort. "It's not all about the people coming to us, but reaching out to our members." Toland's goal is to make it easy to get connected, so he added a Web page devoted to social media on the group's site, complete with tutorials on how to use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. "With most of our members, active farming members... being of the age that's a little bit slower to getting on social media we wanted to provide the right training for them," he said. "A lot of people are confused about how to get value out of it." But the Ohio bureau has seen a surge in activity due to a controversial proposed amendment to the state constitution which would create a board with the power to regulate animal care of livestock. The ballot initiative is favored by farmers who see it as a safeguard against tougher animal care regulations proposed by organizations like the Humane Society. "We're seeing, on Facebook especially, members are becoming very, very active," Toland said. "More people are posting pictures of their 'Vote Yes for Issue 2' signs." OFBF posts videos of ads and announcements about upcoming rallies on its wall. and encourages people to post their own photos from rallies. It this kind of direct contact with supporters that makes social media an important and effective organizing tool, farm groups said. "We can write letters to the editor until we're blue in the face," said Tracy Grondine, director of media relations at the American Farm Bureau. "But it's a lot more efficient and effective to post directly on someone's site."  
  • - Advocates for Agriculture - Advocates for Agriculture works with producers and shares the importance of telling the story of production agriculture to our consumers. Over 4000 members. CropLife Ambassador Network - Mission: To provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production. Farm Aide - “We all see what's happening with agriculture, what's happening to our small towns. They are going out of business. That's a direct result of the farm problem. We're still doing Farm Aid because it is contributing. It's doing a job.” – John Mellencamp
  • Screen shot of Advocates for Agriculture on Facebook. By becoming a fan you can receive news and updates that may stimulate you with new ways to communicate positive stories about agriculture. The farmer or farm wife or family members must become the advocates.
  • The Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA), a Nebraska-based rural advocacy group, started seriously investing in social media less than six months ago, but they already have more than 700 fans on Facebook and nearly 300 followers on Twitter. "We've had way more success than I anticipated," said Brian Depew, rural organizing and outreach program director at CFRA. Mission: Establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities. 
  • Farm Aide - “We all see what's happening with agriculture, what's happening to our small towns. They are going out of business. That's a direct result of the farm problem. We're still doing Farm Aid because it is contributing. It's doing a job.” – John Mellencamp Organic Consumer Association - Causes strives to empower people from all walks of life to have a positive impact on the world in which they live. We allow Facebook users to organize into communities of action focused upon specific issues or nonprofit organizations.
  • This is what Twitter looks like. You can join by going to http://twitter.com
  • Let’s browse through one story featured at Cause Matters corp website relating to “Twitters’s Business Value to Agriculture”.
  • There are over 25 million businesses already using Facebook and a growing number using Twitter to reach and pass on information to the public and to their clientele.
  • Consider this; one person on a farm tour could make thousands of positive impressions. That’s an excellent ROI compared to dismal milk and pork prices at the farm gate right now!  The following is written by a mom, health professional and speaker who experienced her first modern dairy farm tour last week as a part of speaking for a Vita-Plus event – and found an ‘ah-ha’ moment. Read on… Ever wonder where you milk comes from? I got a chance to find out last week when I visited a dairy farm in Western Wisconsin and met 100 hard working dairy farming women. Having only the media view of “factory” farming,  I was firmly on the organic/free range/family farm side of the argument. I have to say my view has changed – still need more info, but it isn’t as black and white as I thought. I visited a dairy farm with more than 800 cows — which is huge. It is run by a family (2 brothers and their wives) and some hired help (total of 12 people I think). They’d like to have more help, but can’t afford them with the low milk prices. I had assumed “confined” cows would be unhappy cows, dirty cows, sad — but I was wrong. Over the hour-long tour, our host constantly talked about “cow comfort” from the different types of bedding to how the feed was presented. They invest in various types of fans and misters to keep them cool – they even had motion sensitive back scratching machines for the cows. It was a bit like uncomfortable to watch one cow use it — she seemed to be REALLY enjoying it. Mother realizes dairy farm moms raise their family right. As anyone who has breast fed knows, if the mom is stressed or uncomfortable, the milk doesn’t flow. I hadn’t considered this concept in regard to dairy cows, but it makes sense. From that perspective, it seems ridiculous that a business person would set up a situation where conditions would limit production. No, indeed this farm was all about making the cows happy. Our host talked about his routine and it was obvious how hard they work – long hours – and they are struggling to make a profit. With their cute little kids running around it is hard to believe this was what Time Magazine calls a “soulless” operation.
  • A screen shot of the Advocates for Agriculture channel on YouTube.com While at YouTube, search for PETA or Humane Society of the United States. https://.humanesociety.org/
  • These are the questions that a news reporter who didn’t know a lot about agriculture and indicates these are questions she needs answers to. Anyway, here’s what I’ve learned: The farmers I met are VERY busy, care deeply, and deserve our respect. There’s more to this issue than I ever imagined. I don’t know enough yet — it is time to get more information and start really understanding where our food comes from. I suspect there is more than one right answer and the people who are most qualified to help me understand are the people working hard to produce our food. So, farmers out there, please help me out! What should I know that I don’t? What do I think I know, that is just plain wrong? What should I be reading? Who should I rely on for good, unbiased, information? Author Eliz Greene learns from dairy farm women I talk all the time about “ grow foods ” and making healthy choices. It is time for me to really understand what that means. Please make a comment below and help me share the best information with the people I serve. Thanks! To the busy women I serve, get yourself and your family out to a working farm and see where your food is produced. Become an informed consumer and support the people working hard to put food on your table.

Transcript

  • 1. Agriculture Groups Can Find Voice in Social Media Dennis Kahl UNL Extension Educator [email_address] Nebraska AgRelations Council Ag at the Crossroads Conference 2009
  • 2.  
  • 3. Did You Know 4.0 A Above link takes you to a 3 minute video sharing new trends in social media.
  • 4. Why Should Ag Organizations be a part of Social Media?
    • Relationships – Putting a face on the farmer and making them human.
    • If we don’t tell our story, it’s told for us, minus some facts.
    • Allows ag to reach audiences away from the farm
    • Unites ag-related groups and leverages the playing field.
    • Great way to spread info to other ag groups in a quick manner.
    • Great way to tell our story to non-ag audiences.
  • 5. Ag Facts
    • American farmers average age is 57.1 years.
    • Social media is still thought of as the domain of young people but it isn’t!
      • Fastest growing age groups on Facebook are 35-54 year-olds and those 55 and above.
    • Advocacy groups are thinking about how they can use social technology and social media to engage people who are passionate about their causes.
    • Our audience is there and more will be soon.
    Source: Emily Vaughan – National Journal – 10-19-09 Nextgov
  • 6. Twitter
  • 7. How Social Media Might Be Used
    • Ohio Farm Bureau Federation –
    • Founded in 1919, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation works to create a partnership between farmers and consumers that meets consumer needs and ensures agricultural prosperity in a global marketplace.
      • Created tutorials on how to use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
      • Controversial proposed amendment to Ohio state constitution creating a board with power to regulate animal care of livestock.
  • 8. Example Use by Ohio Farm Bureau Federation: Creating a board with power to regulate animal care of livestock.
    • Ballot favored by farmers
      • Safeguard against tougher animal care regulations proposed by organizations like the Humane Society.
      • Members have become very active by posting pictures of ‘Vote Yes for Issue 2’ signs.
      • Videos of ads and announcements of upcoming rallies were posted on the wall.
      • Encouraged people to post their own photos from rallies.
  • 9. Result:
    • It is this kind of direct contact with supporters that makes social media an important and effective organizing tool.
    • "We can write letters to the editor until we're blue in the face," said Tracy Grondine, director of media relations at the American Farm Bureau.
    • "But it's a lot more efficient and effective to post directly on someone's site."
  • 10. Ag Groups are Getting the Message
    • A-FAN -
      • the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska—is helping Nebraska farmers and ranchers protect and preserve the quality of life in rural communities through the development of responsible livestock production.
    • American Farm Bureau Federation -
      • AFBF is the nation's largest general farm organization and has been recognized as the most effective advocate for America's farm and ranch families.
  • 11. Advocacy Groups on Facebook
    • Advocates for Agriculture –
      • Agriculture works with producers and shares the importance of telling the story of production agriculture to our consumers.
    • CropLife Ambassador Network –
      • To provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production.
  • 12.  
  • 13. Ag Groups are Getting the Message
      • Center for Rural Affairs –
        • Establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities. 
  • 14. Advocacy Groups on Facebook
    • Farm Aide –
      • “ We all see what's happening with agriculture, what's happening to our small towns. They are going out of business. That's a direct result of the farm problem. We're still doing Farm Aid because it is contributing. It's doing a job.” – John Mellencamp
    • Organic Consumer Association –
      • Causes strives to empower people from all walks of life to have a positive impact on the world in which they live.
  • 15.  
  • 16.  
  • 17. Ag Businesses/Organizations on TWITTER
    • MonsantoCo
    • PioneerHiBreds -
    • NEFarmBureau –
    • USDAgov -
  • 18. Consider This….
    • One journalist on a farm tour could make thousands of positive impressions.
  • 19.  
  • 20. Questions We Need to Answer in Order to Share the Positive Ag Story
    • What should I know that I don’t?
    • What do I think I know, that is just plain wrong?
    • What should I be reading?
    • Who should I rely on for good, unbiased, information?
  • 21. You may access this presentation at http://slideshare.net Search for ‘NE Ag at Crossroads’
  • 22. Visit the UNL BIT Mobile at 3:30
    • Mobile computer lab UNL Extension teaches entreprenuerial technology classes in across NE
  • 23. Questions? Can Agricultural Groups Find Voice in Social Media? Dennis Kahl UNL Extension [email_address] THANK YOU ! ! Nebraska AgRelations Council Ag at the Crossroads Conference 2009
  • 24.
    • Extension is a Division of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln cooperating with the Counties and the United States Department of Agriculture.
    • University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension educational programs abide with the nondiscrimination policies of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture.