Commentary: Agriculture’s ROI on social media

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Social Media I often wonder why farmers and ranchers are slow to adopt social media. Agriculture is making progress in this revolutionary way of communication. But we still have a long way to go.

I consider farmers and ranchers may be intimidated by computers. But that doesn’t make sense because agriculture is always quick to adopt technology. Then I think they are buffaloed by the complexity of social media. But that’s not the answer, because it is fairly simple.

The real reason dawned on me as I was talking to a couple of my Farm Bureau compadres. Both told me that farmers and ranchers don’t use social media because they can’t see a return on investment (ROI).

ROI. A farmer’s not going to invest in anything if he can’t make money. Social media is not like applying fertilizer to a hay field, one told me, and seeing an immediate green-up that means dollars in the bank.

Or is it?

Social media to me is like stocks and bonds. Invest a little bit here and there and your worth will grow. Likewise, invest a little time and effort in social media, and agriculture’s influence will grow.

Consumers have serious discussions about food every day. They are concerned with food safety, want to know how it is grown and who is growing it. Others—including activists with an axe to grind and some who would love to take modern agriculture back to the dark ages—are providing the answers. Farmers and ranchers are largely missing from these social media discussions. That is a huge shame, because poll after poll shows they are far more believable than anyone else when it comes to agriculture.

So look at it this way.

You won’t see an immediate ROI on social media. Consider it a long-term investment in agriculture.

Commit a little time and effort each day. And it will pay big dividends in the future for you, your children and your grandchildren.

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SD  |  April, 04, 2014 at 03:30 PM

Another clue to the 'problem' of slow adoption of social media: have you noticed that the family ranchers work very long hours due to their 'vested interest', that is, there often is no hired help, so very often it is a choice between caring for the animals/crop production, or family time to sacrifice for 'extra's' like computer time, other than for business uses. Granted, we all need to see the 'value' of the judicious use of social media to educte and even just to interest our consumers in factual sources for information bout the food we raise for them, but it's pretty hard to find the time in the busiest seasons, especially in spring.

Don Schindler    
Chicago  |  April, 07, 2014 at 09:22 AM

Sometimes it is because people are really busy but we incorporate things that are important to us during our hectic days - social media doesn't have to take a lot of time - but knowing what the tricks are to save time with social media is something that we are putting into our social media training here at Dairy Management. We are learning what works for farmers especially the ones that are online a lot like Will Gilmer, Ray Prock, Carrie Mess, etc... and teaching that to other farmers. Social media does have ROI that can be measured right now with the right tools like the tracking our Newsroom does right now on animal care issues and does wonders to push out social responsibility programs like Milk Life's The Great American Milk Drive. While I agree with article, I don't want it sold short that this is only a long term investment. It's not. It's how people communicate and farmers need to be part of that conversation. It hurts customer perceptions if we aren't.

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