Tool #1 - Facebook. If you don't have a personal Facebook page, now is the time to set one up. Next, setup a fan page for your farm. It's a great way to share what you are doing on your farm. Post pictures, short videos (use a smartphone) and stories of what is happening on your farm and why you are doing it. Lastly, you need followers for your Facebook pages. Invite all your friends and families from your personal Facebook page to "like" your farm page. Your follower list will grow resulting in a larger audience. You are creating a social community on Facebook by sharing information, asking questions and responding to comments. Check out the Social Media Guide for more details on how to setup social media.
Tool #2 - Twitter. Tweets are short messages consisting of up to 140 characters. You can tweet a message to a specific person, organization or company. First thing is to setup a twitter account. All twitter accounts start with the character "@". The "@" is followed by a twitter name (or user name). In addition, tweets use hashtags. A hashtag starts with the symbol "#". Think of hashtags as a way to sort or categorize tweets. For example - tweets that included "#MNPorkcongress" were used in tweets that pertained to the Minnesota Pork Congress. Hashtags allowed users to read all tweets that pertained to the #MNPorkCongress, no matter who tweeted them. Personally, one of my favorite things I like about twitter is I can follow people who may be at a conference I was not able to attend. They will tweet messages or pictures about what is happening at the conference. As you engage in social media, you will find that you like and use different social media tools for different reasons. For me, twitter gives me access to a wide array of people, businesses or organizations with interests and backgrounds that I want to follow.
Tool #3 - Blog. Think of a blog as an online diary. Blogging gives you the opportunity to write about anything you want, including what happens on your farm. One word of caution - blogging is time consuming. While tweets and Facebook status updates are shorter in length, blogs are longer and more indepth. Blogs can refer readers to external links on other websites for more information about a topic. The key to a good blog is quality content and concise writing. Quality content is answering the question, "What value does my blog give my readers?"
Anyone can blog. You don't need a communication or journalism degree to blog. Be authentic and write from your heart. Use this list of farmer bloggers to see what other farmers blog about. Ready to start? Use the site I referenced when I started my blog - FARMnWIFE Blogging Basics.
These are just a few of the social media tools farmers can use. You don't need to use them all. The most important thing is to just do something! Challenge yourself to commit to a certain number of minutes per week to engage in some sort of social media.