Nebraska’s State FFA Convention was this week in Lincoln. The FFA students are inspiring and driven young minds with a growing voice. While they face a world much different than generations in the past, including the increasing gap of consumer knowledge about agriculture, they are armed with a growing new tool – social media.
Social media includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and much more. While all are great ways to keep up with friends and family, they are also powerful tools. Tools that those who do not have firsthand knowledge of farming and ranching are using to broadcast an untrue message. Through social media, we are ALL journalists with the ability to be published instantly.
While those who attack will not go away, spreading the truth about agriculture relies on those who live it. If you’re active on social media already – whether it’s sharing photos of your children or keeping track of high school classmates – here are some tips to make the transition to agvocacy easy:
- Seek to help, not harm
- The goal should always be a positive outcome, view your role as a bridge builder and resource.
- Be respectful and polite
- You may not agree with the opinions expressed, but keep the golden rule in mind – treat them as you’d like to be treated.
- Stay within your realm of expertise
- Keep on point. If the conversation begins to deviate, don’t be afraid to decline to comment, or provide them with resources that are experts.
- Move quickly and thoughtfully
- The internet is written in ink, not pencil – be sure you review your post before sending.
- Get into an argument
- Info and opinions can get lost in translation and again, the internet is written in ink.
- Personally attack commenters
- Delete posts
- Unless they violate community guidelines, this makes you lose all credibility.
- Forget resources
- A post with a photo is 47% more likely to be read
- Share updates regularly
- Shorten links
- Utilize hashtags responsibly
- Your whole post shouldn’t be hashtags, but highlight the important points
- Done is better than perfect
- While there are some great and intricate videos out there, yours don’t have to be to show what you’re doing and why.
- Share your videos on other social media pages
- Start a board for agriculture education
–Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.