The world has fallen in love with social media and so have farmers. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Blogs and SlideShare (just some examples of the diversity of social media opportunities) have provided a new and exciting information freeway for farmers to share their stories and help build trust and understanding within the community of modern farming practices as well the challenges farmers face in providing affordable and nutritious food for families all around the world.
This is so important as modern practices are moving so much faster than education resources. On top of this the current value change model is moving farmers further and further away from their customers.
“A blog can bring readers together on a regular basis, regardless of geographical distance and the site becomes more than a noticeboard. It becomes a forum where communities are developed.” says Sally Davison from the Australian Farm Institute.
A good example of using a mix of mediums to spread a message is the Inspire Foundation’ initiative “A Perfect Gift for a Man.” In 2009 the Inspire Foundation launched a campaign to raise awareness of the issue of suicide amongst young men in Australia. The campaign started with a # tag topic on Twitter. This was followed by a blog where people shared their experiences. Eventually a book was created of these heartfelt and inspiring stories www.theperfectgiftforaman.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/The-Perfect-Gift-for-a-Man-online.pdf
Another local example of a similar Twitter initiative is Alison Farleigh’s fortnightly Twitter discussion forum called Rural Mental Health to raise awareness of the issue and engage with people in rural communities. By using the #RuralMH anyone can see the discussion and take part if they wish to.
#Agchatoz offers a weekly forum for people to post tweets on a wide range of agriculture topics. Agchatoz now has over 1200 followers.
A Youtube example of product promotion is Yeo Valley who have used this very clever video which has attracted close to 2 million hits www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOHAUvbuV4o to drive sales of their organic dairy products. Would be interesting to know what has been the increase in sales of their products from this catchy promotion
Art4Agriculture was inspired by Marian McDonald a dairy farmer from Jack River, Victoria to start our blog. Read Simone Smith’s story on Marian in The Weekly Times here www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/07/29/361771_dairy.html and join her blog http://milkmaidmarian.wordpress.com/ and follow Milk Maid Marian on Twitter here http://twitter.com/#!/milkmaidmarian
Art4Agriculture have now been using SlideShare for two years to successfully share the Jet and Emma Dairy Education Series for K to 12 www.slideshare.net/LandLearnNSW/presentations?order=popular
Art4Agriculture’s Jet and Emma are undertaking a dairy traineeship as part of their HSC. They work at dairies in the beautiful Jamberoo Valley on the NSW South Coast and they share what they are learning everyday with their ever increasing fan base.
Together with the finalist presentations from the Cream of the Crop Competition www.art4agriculture.com.au/ we are very proud to say we have attracted over 50,000 hits on the web.