Agvocating: Using social media on the ranch is an easy way to share agriculture’s story | TSLN.com

Agvocating: Using social media on the ranch is an easy way to share agriculture’s story

Photo by Lauren ChaseA great example of a smart ranch is, Cayuse Livestock Company in Montana. Pictured is Lauren Chase, Montana Stockgrowers, filming Bill Donald, 2011 National Cattlemen's Beef Association president

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, huh? If you’re lost; don’t worry. While online social media has taken the agriculture industry by storm, there are many who are hesitant and uneasy getting started online. Cue Andrew Cambpell, social media expert, who recently spoke in the AgriWebinar series sponsored by the Canadian Farm Business Management Council.

“Social media is the elephant in the room,” said Andrew Campbell. “The one factor that isn’t surprising but is concerning is that two-thirds of ranchers say they won’t use social media for business, with 43 percent saying they have no time, with another 30 percent see no value. This is troublesome, but once folks get the hang of it, these sites only takes a few minutes to check.”

Campbell sees Twitter as the site with the most value.

“Twitter is the most valuable, but it’s also the most-misunderstood,” he said. “At first glance, it looks like a waste of time, but it really is an effective tool to connect with ranchers, farmers, agri-businesses and companies. The best thing is you have the option to pick and choose who you follow or connect with.”

@AgCare, @AgriMedia, @FieldTalk, @Agriwebinar and @Agridome were all suggested people and organizations for ranchers on Twitter to follow. For those unfamiliar, the “@” symbol denotes a person’s profile on the social media site. Meanwhile, many may notice the # symbol in tweets, which is called a “hashtag.”

A hashtag is used to help folks find what they are interested in. Ranchers can use #ranch, #cattle, #livestock, #feed, #agchat and #foodchat to help drive their messages toward the right audience.

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This brief vocabulary hashtag lesson might be overwhelming for those who haven’t connected before, but Campbell hopes folks don’t get lost in the verbage and instead focus on getting connected. The first step is to just get started.

“A simple search for a hashtag you might be interested in can help you gather information on the subjects and people who care about the same things you do,” he explained. “Once I find something I like, I will follow that person, which will help me stay connected with what they have to say.”

Facebook is another tool to take advantage of, as it’s a great tool for direct marketing.

“Use pictures, videos, pages and events to help disseminate information,” said Cambpell. “Twitter and Facebook are available by smart phones, so folks can get connected where ever they are. Having an ongoing conversation with others is so important, and if you don’t have time to get to your desktop computer, you can connect anywhere. It’s very effective, as long as you don’t get caught up in the junk that can be found on Facebook.”

With 800 million people on Facebook, half of them saying they login every single day, Campbell said a Facebook page can be a great way to directly market your products. The challenge is creating enough buzz around the page to earn new, loyal customers.

For more visual learners, YouTube could be a great fit.

“How-to and educational videos are abundant on YouTube,” he said. “For example, you can search on YouTube for any of the things you might want to do on the ranch, whether it’s changing the spark plug on your lawn mower or making changes on GPS equipment. Product demonstrations from equipment companies are also available. A simple search on harvest or planting can help in seeing what other farmers are doing in other parts of the world and how their crops are doing.”

For those intimidated by smart phones, it’s important to remember that these phones have all the functionality of a traditional cell phone, with phone numbers, texting and a contact list. The benefits are internet, camera, GPS and applications otherwise known as, “apps.”

“With apps, you can access virtually everything; weather, market prices and e-mail, are just a few” he explained. “You can sign-in to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Producers can even use a calculator, satellite map and agronomy updates to stay on top of things in their business.”

If the online world still sounds like non-sense; think again. Social media is the new way to connect with agri-businesses and future customers. It’s time for ranchers to get connected. A smart phone can quickly elevate your smart farm.

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