Using social media on the farm can take many forms. Iowa pork producer Erin Brenneman, public relations and social media manager for Brenneman Pork, offers these four tips to encourage farmers to put social media to work for the entire agricultural community.
1. Work Hard, Have Fun, Make a Difference
Brenneman talks about the friends she’s made through social media, both within agriculture and beyond. “Raising pigs is the fun part; sharing that passion with others is a bonus,” she says. Also, don’t be afraid to share your failures—it makes you human. It’s important to be genuine, Brenneman stresses. “I don’t take my kids out to the barn to stage a photo shoot—I really want them to learn,” she says.
2. Pick A Channel You Like and Stick With It
There are a lot of platforms from which to choose, but Brenneman says these four are the most popular:
Facebook: A good place to share with family and friends, and the most capable of private settings. It provides some of the best analytics, Brenneman says, and is an effective way to tell stories with pictures and albums. It’s an active, storytelling platform, but seems to be fading in popularity with the younger crowd. You can follow Brenneman Pork Inc. on Facebook.
Twitter: “Twitter is a very fast, news/event-oriented platform,” Brenneman (@sowmomma) says. “If you’re tweeting about something that happened yesterday, you’re too late!” You’re limited in the number of characters you can use, so your message needs to be short and to the point.
Instagram: A friendly, non-conversational
platform, used for pictures of pets, family and food. Brenneman says Instagram is mainly about the visual impact rather than for informational purposes. (Find Brenneman as @sowmomma)
Snapchat: This platform is “fast, easy and to the point,” Brenneman says, and it’s her personal favorite. It features filters for holidays, silly faces and locations. “It’s a great way to tell your story in a fun and interesting manner,” she says. (Her user name is “spookgal”)
3. Don’t Do It Alone—Network
Find people to follow who share your interests and focus on interactivity. In other words, comment on other people’s social media and respond to people who follow you to develop a community. You’ll have “haters,” Brenneman says, but she suggests you leave them alone. If you don’t respond, they’ll eventually go away.
4. Focus on a Hobby (No, Farming Doesn’t Count)
Brenneman has a menagerie of pets and has found that people love sharing photos of animals. She’s also a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, which is a completely different community. The Brennemans built a baseball field on their farm, and will use it as another way to connect with non-farm consumers. One of the best ways to connect is through your family, she says.