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Is social media dead in the food & farming discussion?

center pivot social media

Are these productive communities or center pivots pouring out information and drowning people?

An article caught my eye yesterday. Funny thing is, I can’t remember if it was on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. I don’t remember a picture, so I know it wasn’t on Pinterest. And there wasn’t a technology geek involved, so it wasn’t Google+. Seems to be the way it goes these days as information comes at us through center pivots (a volume that’s worthy of multiple fire hoses, for my non-farm readers). We don’t always remember where information came from or who sent it – only that we have it and should do something with it.

“Why social media is dead” is the headline that caught my attention, which pointed to this article on social business. In reviewing the transition from the early days digital to our social world, the author manages to capture the future. And I believe he’s dead on (pun intended).

Just in case you’re distracted by a tweet or decide to pin this and forget to click on the link, I’ll paraphrase. “Social media networks now drive much of the Web’s traffic as billions of people share links and opinions about the world around them. As a result of all of this activity—huge amounts of data or “social data” is currently flooding the current global digital ecosystem.”

Do you feel flooded? I know I do. I talk to people everyday who are swimming in information with no life vest in sight. It’s no wonder why when you look at what happens each day on the internet:

  • 294 billion emails are sent
  • Enough information is consumed to fill 168 million DVDs
  • 2 million blog posts are written (enough posts to fill TIME magazine for 770 million years)
  • 864,000 videos are uploaded to YouTube
  • More than 35 million apps are downloaded

Who can keep up? All of this comes from The Social Skinny, which distracted me from my intended work for hours yesterday. Why? Contemplating the the state of social – and what it means for conversations around food and farming.

  • 66% of online adults are connected to one or more social media platform.
  • There are more Facebook users than cars (800 million vs 750 million) – and it’s the most visited website.
  • Twitter accounts for approx 3.61% of referral traffic and is adding about one million new accounts daily.
  • Pinterest is retaining and engaging users2-3x better than Twitter was at a similar time in Twitter company history. There’s about 10.5 million people with virtual bulletin boards, 20% of which are men (yes, I’ll be writing about agvocacy on Pinterest soon).
  • Social commerce sales are expected to reach $30 billion in five years.
  • 57% of people talk to people more online than they do in real life.
farm food social media

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As the “social media is dead” post points out – this sets the stage for an era that’s already begun, but is still in it’s infancy. Most ag organizations are still trying to figure out social media, the realities of communications turned upside down and how to talk with their customers in social media (ironically, the same as you do in real life or on the phone). Case in point: 70% of businesses ignore complaints on Twitter, yet 630 million people are expected to have smartphones in 2012 where they can instantaneously provide feedback when they’re thrilled or unhappy. That spells a disconnect to me.

Whether you’re ready or not, social business has been birthed. Those organizations – including all of us in agriculture, food, nutrition, farming and ranching – who can form connections to the benefit of our stakeholders – will be the ones shaping this new era. Social businesses will have the ability to interpret and act upon the information for their communities. In other words, they’ll be strategically laying pipe, using the latest technology to manage the center pivot and directing information exactly where it’s needed for the community to grow. Sounds like a fun challenge, don’t you think?

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6 Responses to “Is social media dead in the food & farming discussion?”

  1. Whoo! What a lot to think about! Very interesting information. So if we need to be out there making connections, how can we be doing that without being apart of that large pool of information that we are all trying to swim through?

    Looking forward to your future Pinterest post!

    • Michele Payn-Knoper says:

      Hi Val. Great question. Not sure I have all the answers in this new era, but do believe communities will largely influence the direction & uptake of information. Sharing images & engaging people farm life are a big part of that, just as you do.

      What do you think?

      And thanks for the Pinterest post encouragement. I need to get it done.

      • Scott D. Warner, R.L.S. says:

        Social media are like rows of corn or grapes on a vine. One can become lost in the rows or part of the wine.

        -Scott D. Warner, R.L.S.

  2. Richard says:

    To be an effective player in today’s cyberspace, one just really needs to be selective about the blogs one engages, and the web sites one visits. There’s a lot of nonsense out there. It does take a lot of experience and practice in narrowing down the field so you can manage the loads of information without feeling out of control. Let me put in simple terms: depending on your field of interest there’s a lot of valuable advice at your finger tips. However, there’s a lot of junk and misinformation also. One has to travel with care.

  3. Janel says:

    Great post! Social media isn’t going anywhere so its up to us to find the ways to make it work in our favor!

  4. Rob C says:

    Nonsense. Writers use headlines like this all the time to generate nonexistent hype. I can do the same thing by using the title “Why baseball is dead,” then proceed to regurgitate rule changes that have impacted the sport. Social media is not dead, nor is it going anywhere. I have seen plenty in the food and farming industry that have brilliant social marketing campaigns. It is the responsibility of the rest of the industry to be aware of social media and be actively involved.

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