Agriculture’s ROI on social media

By Mike Barnett

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.

Mike Barnett

Director of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
I’m a firm believer that farmers and ranchers will continue to meet the needs of a growing world population by employing equal measures of common sense, conservation and technology.
Follow Mike on Twitter and Facebook.

4 Responses to “Agriculture’s ROI on social media”

  1. Mr Barnett, you answered your own question. Ag producers shun social media because those venues are a perfect way for them to have a target painted on their backs, by the rabid, zealot anti-ag lobbies.

    Perhaps you don’t remember EPA’s phony apologetic tone after releasing CAFO producers personal info on multiple occasions, feigning concern while claiming compulsory compliance with FOI laws?

    Leftist propagandist have much more time to spend on facebook and twitter than working farmers and ranchers. Furthermore, private citizens concerned with safety and privacy are turning away from social media in droves. I really don’t see those venues being a seriously important vehicle a few years out.

    And if ag producers ever do get organized with a PR message, your employer might just be a prime target. This might be a perfect case of “Be careful what you wish for”, sir.

    There are a significant number of us out here in the hinterlands who are about ready to bolt – due to the organization’s failure to represent our constitutionalist POV in favor of the political/economic needs of a minority of powerful special operators.

    • Mike Barnett says:

      Mr. Peterson. Public opinion polls…including one we conducted last year…show farmers and ranchers are by far the most credible source when it comes to agriculture. But they are strangely silent when it comes to their livelihoods. We have made great progress in changing that, but we have a long way to go. I disagree with your assertion that social media is on the way out. It will evolve but the two-way dialogue it offers is here to stay. That’s my opinion. If farmers don’t tell their story–via social media or traditional media–someone else. And, Farm Bureau policy is driven by grassroots level and is initiated by farmers like yourself…as is the election of leadership.

  2. You often wonder about farmers and ranchers failure to embrace social media – and I often wonder why you have a site that allows member comments, then hold those comments in “moderation” for TEN days…

    I guess you boys enjoy hearing your own voices in the echochamber of agreement. Pat yourselves on the back, you’re doing great work.

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