Ag industry becomes social savvy

Agriculture and social media go hand in hand these days as farmers, ranchers and ag companies throughout the state embrace social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to communicate with consumers and business contacts. The trend was evident at the Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello this week, as vendors were seen tapping on laptops, iPads and iPhones throughout the day.
"Farmers are using social media to tell their story, give updates, promote events such as farmer's markets and answering consumer questions," said Trevor Cook, a specialist from the Magic Valley for AgriEdge (a farm management company). "Businesses are using it to promote themselves and to share news and experiences with others in the industry."
Frank Muir, president of the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC), has taken to social media to promote the Idaho potato, saying, "While television continues to be our main communication anchor, how we are communicating with each other is more important than ever and we've expanded to the ever-changing social media landscape."
Muir said the IPC will engage 'friends' through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest by sharing recipes, fun information and through promotions where consumers have a chance to win prize.
While many in the ag business continue to use more traditional methods of communication such as web pages, television, newspaper and mass emails, social media has become indispensable in the lives of those who have caught on to the trend.
Not surprisingly, the younger generation has taken on social media with a vengeance with a recent study by the American Farm Bureau Federation reporting that "78 percent of farmers and rancher under the age of 28 use social media. Ninety-eight percent of farmers and ranchers (of all ages) in the same survey use the Internet."
While many in the ag business continue to use more traditional methods of communications such as television, newspaper, mass emails and company websites, those who have caught on to the "social" trend profess that "social media has become an indispensable part of doing business."