Talking Ag in the Social Media Arena with Michelle Payn KnoperTue, 22 May 2012 20:13:55 CDT
The tumble in Facebook stock the day after its IPO debut had some pundits questioning whether this was a harbinger that the social media are due for a decline.
With many ag advocates relying on social media to get their messages out via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, the question becomes “Is social media dead in the food and farming discussion.”
“No!” says Michelle Payn-Knoper, an agriculture social media advocate. “However, because of information overload, because of the vast amounts of center pivots-as Iike to say--of information that people have flying at them every day, it’s a real challenge for us to try to figure out how to get through all the marketing messages.”
She spoke with Ron Hays at the Alltech International Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky. She says there certainly is a lot of clutter across all media platforms now, and the trick is to cut through the clutter and get the right messages to the right people at the right times.
“I think at the end of the day it boils down to relationships, it boils down to people who are innovative enough to be able to aggregate content, form those relationships and develop a community around that.”
Far from being an impersonal monolith, Payn-Knoper says the social media provide a great and profitable opportunity to get up close and personal with those you want to reach.
“It’s really about building a community around the purpose you are serving. You get to determine what your purpose is in social media and then, hopefully, you’re building a community around that. And the third step, which many folks miss, is to really serve that community-serve them with information, serve them with a first-hand perspective, serve them with opinions, serve them with links and resources that are both related to who you are, but also what purpose you are serving in social media.”
Choosing a purpose is absolutely crucial, she says, and the success of one’s efforts hinge on being very clear about that purpose.
“I’m on social media primarily because of advocacy. Agricultural advocacy drives my business and has for 11 years. It’s my life’s mission and so what my purpose is in social media is to incite, inspire and inform people about issues around the food plate.
“Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with everything that I put out there, but if it incites a conversation, then I’m happy. Likewise, if something that I do inspires someone, if I can offer words of encouragement, or get groups together, then that serves my purpose.
“I think each person has to look down inside themselves and decide what they really want to accomplish.”
She says, “In most cases with the farmers and ranchers that I have worked with across North America, it comes down to advocacy. It comes down to wanting to protect your right to farm as you best see fit, to take care of your land and animals as you best see fit, instead of having the Humane Society of the United States dictate that for you.”
She said ag advocates don’t even have to like the social media tools they use, but they must realize that there are those out there on the other side who are more than happy to use the social media against their opponents.
Payn-Knoper says even though social media can be complex, there is a very simple and powerful way that ag advocates can have a powerful effect on the public: images. She says that everyday men and women, boys and girls who love farming, who love their rural way of life can easily advocate positive messages about their lives simply by taking and posting pictures. She says too often we wait for that perfect sunset or the cute picture with the baby calf or our favorite horse. Ag advocates can do so much more, she says if they would just take pictures of the everyday activities on the farm and post them for others to see.
“At the end of the day it boils down to finding a tool, whether it’s your iPhone, whether it’s your Droid, whether it’s your tablet or your laptop, or even a dumb phone and taking a picture and posting it onFacebook, sharing a caption, getting a video quickly on Youtube, posting something on Pinterest and really trying to be sure that you are putting a face on agriculture because if you’re not doing it, then who’s going to?”
You can hear the full conversation between Ron Hays and Michelle Payn-Knoper by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
Michelle Payn-Knoper talks to Ron Hays about social media and ag advocacy.
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