Doing social media agvocacy right

I’ve really pondered this question lately:  How do we tell the story of modern agriculture in the social media world?  How do we truly “reach beyond the choir”?  Although that was the very theme of the AgChat Foundation’s Agvocacy 2.0 conference this past August, I’ve pondered how well we’ve really accomplished the goal.

One thing I’ve observed recently is a sense of frustration among a few friends in the ag industry at the apparent slow pace of truly getting the modern ag story out beyond the friendly confines of the ag community.  While I can certainly understand the concern, I truly believe that the difficulty in reaching out is simply a result of the great challenge in actually developing meaningful relationships via social media.  The studies I’ve seen suggest that the VAST majority of social media users are there for the expressed purpose of connecting with family and friends, not to explore new areas of interest.

However, despite the challenges, I think there is tremendous opportunity.  If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last couple of years of this work, it’s that people want to connect with people, real genuine people.  There’s a lot of that in the ag community, a lot of diversity in passion, interests, etc.  I’m going to highlight a couple of examples that I think demonstrate very effective and doable agvoacy techniques:

First, Zach Hunnicutt (he’ll be a bit surprised to see his name show up here).  I’ve gotten to know Zach fairly well over the last year or so as we’ve worked together on various agvocacy projects.  Zach has some very strong passions, rather than re-describing them here, I’ll just send you to Zach’s own words on the subject.  The key message to me is this, take what your passionate about, be involved/active in that on social media.  Earn the trust and respect of those who share your passion, share your other interests/passions as appropriate, in a very similar model to how you would with friends in the offline world.

Another example I want to share is the “Real Farmwives of America“.  If you follow the social media scene at all, you know that “mommy bloggers” represent a very important and influential group.  It is a very difficult thing for me as a farmer to connect with a significant number of mommy bloggers, the good ones are constantly bombarded with pitches from folks quite frankly attempting to do the same thing.   What the Real Farmwives has done is simply became a group of very effective/successful mommy bloggers (and more!) themselves, and that has led to connections and relationships in the larger mommy blogger community that has resulted in some very nice agvocacy success stories.

So, what’s the moral of this story?  First, lets talk about what doesn’t work.  I think a good many of us, when we first tried to be good agvocates, basically made it a race to see how much ag information we could share in a day.  I know that was my approach at times, there will be some folks that works well for, for many part of the maturing process is realizing there probably is a better approach.

To me, the most effective agvocacy efforts come from simply living (BOTH offline and on) the passions that you have.  It may be the passion you have as a parent, it may be a hobby or interest, it may simply be the enjoyment of interacting with a diverse group of people.  You may be like me, and keep the other passions in your life more removed from the public online world and do most of the communication you really care about privately.  Or you may feel your only passion IS agriculture, that’s ok, there’s plenty of opportunity there as well, maybe I’ll share some thoughts there in a future post!  Whatever your passion, whatever your interest, social media offers wonderful opportunity to connect with individuals that share that, keep in mind it’s first and formost about enjoying and benefiting from that experience! And then, having developed some new  relationships, share your ag passion as well.  To me, that is agvocacy done right.


16 responses to this post.

  1. great post darin… an ongoing challenge for all of us!


  2. Bingo. Great post. This one sentence is particularly awesome: The most effective advocacy efforts are simply living your passions. YES! Well done.


  3. I agree. Thanks for putting it out there. I keep trying to come up with blog topics that don’t flow into farming easily too draw in new readers but when your heart is all about the farm it comes through no matter what the topic.


    • Carrie, that’s the beauty of it, your heart is in the farm, and that passion will show and good things will happen! As you’ve actually very well demonstrated to all of us the last couple months 🙂


  4. Posted by zweberfarms on December 8, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Totally agree! You have seen Tim and I’s twitter stream. We don’t just simply talk “farm” or industry messaging. In fact, I often avoid talking points I get from commodity groups. Some of our most meaningful SM relationships have formed from talking and connecting through our other passions.

    Carrie: I don’t think this means “don’t” talk about the farm, it just means tie other aspects of your life in. I think you do a good job on your blog 🙂



  5. Great article, Darin! I shared Katie Pinke’s Google+ on my account as well since I believe you have hit the nail right on the head for ALL INDUSTRIES. Looking forward to following your material in the future. Take care, Scott


    • Thanks for the kind words Scott. I don’t really write about social media that much, I blog very infrequently, and often just about the farm, growing corn, etc. So don’t expect too much!


      • That’s quite ok. I’m looking for real people blogging about their real lives and businesses. It’s totally ok that it’s not about social media. I learn from watch others work in their own environment. Well done! Let me know how I can help spread the word about any of your topics. Take care and thanks for the response!

  6. Ok…now I have an issue…I just clicked on the link to Real Farmwives of America and gained 30 pounds reading the first couple of articles! WOW do those recipes look good! 🙂


  7. Fantastic! 🙂


  8. […] Payn-Knoper’s (Check out help at #ACFC11 for getting this blog on wheels. After reading this post yesterday by Darin Grimm I decided that I should host a series of guest blogs here. My rules for who could […]


  9. Great blog! I’d like to introduce to — connecting those who grow food to chefs and consumers. Another approach to agvocacy through different challenges and focused on external audiences.


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