Sure, you’re involved in agriculture, but what’s your other story?
Farm blogs are great. The number of farmers sharing their everyday story online, whether it is on a blog or on social media, is extremely important. As critical as these efforts have been in raising agricultural awareness, there’s a good chance the people we need to reach the most are probably not seeking out blogs about farming. In fact, they probably don’t even know they could learn about their food that way.
I like to try to put myself in the minds of the consumer audiences agricultural communicators are trying to reach. If I remove myself from all of my agricultural education, I’m relatively certain I would not be seeking out farm blogs. A large part of this is because of the vast amount of information available to everyone who has a computer or smartphone. With so much to see, we stick to what we are interested in and what we know. So how, as agriculturalists, do we reach the people that don’t even know we want to share our stories and information with them?
The answer might be more simple than we think. What if we start talking to them about the things they already know?
I love pop culture and music. I read a lot of blogs and listen to a lot of podcasts about pop culture and music. I’m always looking for online groups and communities to be a part of in order to feed this interest. If I were to find myself connecting with a blogger or an active member of a music discussion community, and then found out that person was a farmer or involved in the industry, I would now have someone I’m with whom I’m comfortable answering my food and farm related questions. If that same person came to me with no previous relationship or shared interests and values, I would probably be less likely to engage with or trust them.
A great example of this outreach in action was discussed on an episode of The Story of Agriculture Podcast featuring Crystal Blinn. Crystal is a marketing director for BioZyme, Inc. but is also a long time blogger. Her blog, Crystal Cattle, does feature content about farming, ranching and agriculture but it also features a lot of other content about makeup, fashion and Crystal’s other interests. She has built a following of people who connect over their shared interests, but not all of them connect to her as a farmer and rancher. Listen to her episode to hear the amazing success story involving a makeup swap she organizes with her blog followers.
Of course, I’m not suggesting farmers should stop talking about what they do and start blogging about music and pop culture, or makeup and fashion. However, getting involved with communities formed around their other interests can provide a great platform to build relationships with people outside of the industry. Besides, if we don’t reach for the people beyond our existing communities we will build an echo chamber that loses effectiveness.
I challenge everyone in the industry, farmer or professional, to join a Facebook group that discusses new music, start a sports blog or join a mothers group online. Start connecting with people through your interests outside of agriculture. You might be surprised how many people engage with you about agriculture once you’ve bonded over other interests you share.
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