From Nebraska Corn Kernels Blog
June 23, 2010
Kelsey J. Pope
Last Friday transpired a “first” for several Nebraska farmers – they engaged in
social media! Farmers and individuals involved in agriculture met up from across
the state in Beatrice, Nebraska to participate in the Social Media Training
Workshop, conducted by Michele Payn-Knoper, founder of Cause Matters, Corp. and
AgChat Foundation. This workshop was coordinated by the Nebraska Corn Board and
Nebraska Corn Growers Association and was sponsored by the National Corn Growers
Association’s Image and Activism Campaign Project.
Michele is one of the foremost experts on using social media tools to get
positive messages out about agriculture. She started out the session explaining
the importance of farmers using social media to agvocate and the power that
conversations within social media hold.
“Are you concerned about how the media is portraying agriculture, and how
consumers view where their food comes from?” Payn-Knoper asked. “Because the
conversation is happening, whether you are there or not.”
Real headlines in today’s online communications and news articles read, “Dirty
Corn Ethanol”; “The Vulgar Truth about U.S. Meats”; “Is the Ethanol Industry
Failing or Flourishing?”; “Corn industry brazenly turns Gulf disaster into
marketing opportunity”; “Why High Fructose Corn Syrup is Bad For You”. These
journalists are reaching people with their messages, and consumers believe them!
This is why it is so important to get the real voice of agriculture heard.
Michele shared some important facts with the participants about social media and
networking. According to Jupiter Research, social networking users are three
times more likely to trust the opinions of peers over advertisements when making
decisions. This leads to the fact that what farmers do is novel to most
consumers and that farmers are a trusted source of information about where their
food comes from. The average American consumer spends 2.7 hours per day on the
mobile web, which allows for a great audience for farmers to put out positive
messages about agriculture!
Michele also set some ground rules for agriculturalists using social media:
1. Be 100% authentic and transparent.
2. Build a community around your purpose for engaging in a social network.
3. Understand that your updates are a novelty to 98.5% of U.S. population.
4. Expand beyond agriculture; test messages and ideas in new circles of
connections (i.e. If you like running, connect with other runners in social
media which gives you a broader audience to share your positive agriculture
5. Engage in conversation with your community. (i.e. Don’t just be a listener to
read what others are saying about agriculture – contribute your ideas!)
6. Put a face on the plate, helps consumers relate. (i.e. Choose a picture of
yourself instead of your farm equipment or field.)
In the morning portion of the workshop, participants were introduced to the
essentials about facebook and those who didn’t already have an account got
hands-on help signing up. In the afternoon, participants learned all about
twitter and everyone who didn’t have twitter signed up and started “tweeting” on
the spot! Tweeps at the workshop who started twitter before included:
@mpaynknoper, @rrjanousek, @NECornBoard, @Ag4Front, @NeCGA, @Cornfrmr,
@NESoybeanBoard, @megamaru, @nebrnancy, and @cornfedfarmer. New tweeps after the
end of the day included: @NE_AFAN, @kyleregelean, @bzanga, @farmproud,
@kaggdaddy, @farmdrg, @weselyfarms, and @kathyu13.
Michele gave Nebraska a compliment that we had some of the most tech-savvy
farmers in all the workshops so far she’s seen. But that just allowed her to
challenge the group to continue using social media for a bigger and broader
voice for agriculture!
To read more about Nebraska Corn’s efforts in social media, visit these
Nebraska Corn Board on LinkedIn