In the early time, agricultural information exchange has been dominated by industrial media such as newspapers, radios, television, and magazines. Over the time period due to scientific and technological developments in recent years, however, technology awareness and computer literacy are increasing across all demographics and various forms of social media are being used more and more by people looking for news, education, and other information related to agriculture.
There is not an industry or area of the world that social media has not touched. Even in rural areas, social media is reaching farmers and agriculture students. Both the old and the young are finding ways to connect. The internet, smartphones, tablets and the related apps and social media experience are evolving as a major extension tool for the present and future. New channels are developing to obtain information and market agricultural products, but what does this all really mean?
Social media is all about people and can be defined as internet based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. It is a way to build relationships, share information, and connect with diverse audience of people you may never meet in real life. It is a culture changer, not a fad. Because of this new paradigm shift, we are now used to a global, online community.
If you have a one to one conversation about an issue, only the person you are talking to benefits from the information you deliver. But if you share that information using social media, there is the potential to reach millions of other growers asking the same questions or facing similar problems. So, interacting on social media allows you to develop a community and share your story in a way that was never possible before now.
Agriculture and social media has attuned together. Social media is the platform of engagement and agriculture is the content. The marriage of agriculture and social media likely conjures up images of crop seeding on Farmville, but socially savvy agribusinesses are proving that the connection runs much and much deeper than the popular Zynga game.
While making a single click of a mouse, a farmer in Kathmandu can upload and share pictures of maize planting practices to thousands of followers worldwide. Then a farmer from another corner of world can make a comment on that picture and ask why that farmer planted his crops that way? Over a period discussion breaks out, growing knowledge is traded and each farmer leaves with knowledge that will help him plant a better crop in next time. Meanwhile, thousands of agriculture students across the world are watching this conversation unfold and are learning from both of these farmers.
There are many different forms of social media and its components including forums, blogs, micro-blogs, audio and video podcasts, and p2p file sharing sites. The easiest way to get started on social media is to choose one way to participate at first. Consider what your objectives are. Once you choose the tool that works best for you, do not feel like you need to be active on every network. Here are a few of the most popular social media tools:
Facebook is great for connecting with people; it has more than 900 million active users. You can post updates about activity on your farm, share pictures, and see what friends, organizations, and groups are up to. Facebook is a great place to start a positive conversation about agriculture, connect with the younger generation, and get people excited about farming.
Twitter is a micro blogging service option that allows you to 140 character updates and connects with people from around the world. In fact, twitter has its own ecosystem and economy, twitterverse. You can share news links, pictures from your farm. It allows you to connect with people who you have never met but share like-minded interests.
Linkedin is geared toward the professional community. It allows you to network with work colleagues and is a powerful for brands and job seekers. It can be used to spread positive messages of agriculture through group forums. It is a great way to connect with like-minded people and start deeper conversations about animal agriculture.
Pinterest is currently the fastest growing social media platform. It is an online pinboard where users share pictures, interests, and hobbies. It is a great tool to share pictures from the farm, your favorite agriculture fact, etc. and it focuses on visual sharing.
YouTube is another visual social media tool that is user- friendly and reaches a large population. Video can be a very powerful tool for agribusinesses of any size, but YouTube‘s free-to-use model, ease of use and mass market audience means it’s a great channel for small agribusinesses.
Blogging can communicate positive messages about agriculture through longer posts. Visitors want to be entertained visually. Adding images to your content will certainly make a difference in the experience of your audience where consistency is the key in blogging.
There are many other popular forms of social media like Google Maps and Google Earth help you to plot your land, Flicker albums take your farm and allow it to be dynamic, etc. In order to continue utilizing advanced technologies in the field, agriculturalists will first need to harness the power of social media technology. The impact of that technology will be huge, and I am excited to see just how powerful this technology can be for agriculture.