Monday, May 28, 2012

Social Media: Spreading the word of agriculture quickly and efficiently, but is it effective?

As I get closer to graduation (only 12 more days!), I've been contemplating what my future, and the future of agriculture communications, will hold.  Looking around at job postings, I see so many positions opening up in the area of social media.  Whether it be Facebook, blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other platform, social media is all around us and is proving itself to be a key component to agriculture communication.  With that said though, I tend to question the quality and success of social media in spreading the word of agriculture.  Though it can get the word out quickly and efficiently, I wonder if it does so effectively.  What I think lacks from social media is a conversation and putting a real face to agriculture.  With my experiences this past summer through my internship, I had the opportunity to spread the word of agriculture (specifically the egg industry), at farmers markets, fairs, and schools.  This provided me the chance to converse with people and see and hear first hand their thoughts regarding agriculture, farmers, and animal welfare.  What I found most effective about my communication and outreach efforts was that I was able to have a true conversation with people and they were able to walk away having talked directly with someone involved in the industry, putting a so called "face" to the farmer.  This is something that lacks from social media, and I don't think it is something that should go by the wayside.  I think that social media platforms have a place in the future of agriculture communication in their ability to pass information quickly and efficiently, but I don't think it can replace the effectiveness of a face to face conversation with consumers.  With that said, as I move towards finding a job and career, I hope to find something that utilizes my abilities and talents to converse with people face to face and help them understand American agriculture through public outreach and education.      


  1. Katie-
    I think you're totally right. One of the things we learn in public relations is that face- to- face communication has the highest success rate at getting people to follow through with their actions. People just feel more connected to something they have a personal investment in. Though using social media is fast and convenient, it wasn't designed for the type of complex relationship- building necessary for meaningful communication. You're really lucky that you got the opportunity to spread the word about Ag in person through your job. I feel like nowadays, more people chose the social media route because it's easy, but to me is seems like the easy way out. Even when we had to write the press release, I felt more comfortable getting information from human sources than I did just pulling it off the Internet. Anybody can do that. It takes a special kind of person to want to get the word out face- to face. I feel like people who work in ag are that kind of people, and I really admire the industry's "resistance" to social media because honestly, I don't think it's necessarily a good thing. You, Katie, are a special kind of person, and an excellent communicator. I have not doubt that you will be a great asset to whatever company is lucky enough to hire you and I am so glad I got the chance to work with you this quarter. Best of luck in your bright future!!

  2. Thank you so much Natalie! And your words definitely resonate with me; it sounds like we're definitely on the same page with regards to social media's place in communications!