Industry plugs into social networks
ANN M. O'PHELANWhen it comes to the growth of social media, the numbers are staggering. Estimates by both Nielsen and NM Incite suggest that social media sites and blogs reach 80 percent of all active U.S. Internet users.
Published: July 25, 2012
Published: July 25, 2012
So how is the ag industry tapping into the Internet world? By blogging, Twittering and creating a presence on Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube.
For Ryan Goodman, a generational rancher and agriculture blogger, social media is becoming important for a number of reasons.
"It is important for the agriculture community to connect with our customers, as well as to build supportive relationships with our peers," Goodman said. "Also, it is important to learn about others' farming methods, and to share news and information within the agriculture community."
Goodman, who is pursuing a master's degree in animal science, also explained that it is vital for the agriculture community to make itself available to the rest of the population in order to correct misinformation and answer questions about our food supply. Less than 2 percent of Americans are directly involved in farming and ranching, so the understanding of the ag industry and the public's connection to it can be easily lost.
"Life in rural America does not lend itself to easy access to urban areas, so this makes a great tool for farmers and ranchers to connect with the rest of the world," said Goodman, who explained that farmers and ranchers can work to build relationships between themselves and consumers, and to provide consumers with a place to go and a person to turn to should they have questions or concerns.
Goodman's use of social media began as a self-taught method to connect with friends and classmates, which later transformed into writing about agricultural topics, and finally into his blog: AgricultureProud.com.
He now contributes to CNN's Eatocracy page and speaks at events about the use of social media within the agriculture community, including one for the Ag Institute of Florida in October. Of course, he Twitters (#AgProud), is on YouTube (Channel: AgProud) and has a presence on Facebook (Page: "I am Agriculture Proud").
For Goodman, using social media involves time management, an ability to write about daily experiences and the commitment to interact with readers often. "Most of my posts are scheduled ahead of time, leaving more time for my work," said Goodman, who added that he jots down ideas when he gets them, making it easier to write.
Some of his recent topics have included this year's drought, creating conversations between farmers and customers, and building fences for livestock.
"Social media is a form of communication that is here to stay," said Goodman, who believes that building relationships and creating conversations with others is the best way to build online networking skills.
Goodman works also with the AgChat Foundation, a nonprofit organization geared toward helping farmers and ranchers learn the tools to connect with their customers through social media, and to help others gain the tools and experience to utilize social media.
Goodman will be a guest speaker at the Ag Institute of Florida's 2012 Workshop Series in October. He will be covering the importance of social media for the food and agriculture communities and will answer questions attendees may have on how to use social media and blogging.
Tracy Irani, with the IFAS Center for Public Issues Education at the University of Florida, will also be speaking at the workshop.
"Social media is very cost-effective," said Irani, who explained that it is being used more and more to drive business and boost marketing efforts. "It is important for ag organizations to join the conversation."