If you use social media to promote your farm, are you making yourself a target for activists?
I get this question a lot from dairy farmers, so I thought I would ask California dairy farmer Tyler Ribeiro, also known as @cadairydad. Tyler makes it look easy when it comes to sharing the story of his farm, his passion for cows, and his family on social media.
I recently caught up with him to ask for his advice on advocating for agriculture, especially on new platforms such as TikTok.
As a dairy farmer, we know you are busy running the farm and you also have a young family. How do you make time to create videos and photos and then post them to social media?
It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday stresses of life that a lot of times, we forget to enjoy life. Some days, I have to plan out what I’m going to do. However, most of the time it’s just pulling out the camera and narrating what I’m already doing. You would be surprised by how much of the day-to-day content people love to see!
You are located in California, and there are a lot of activist groups there. Are you worried about activists attacking your farm because you are so visible on social media?
The quick answer is no. Although I do not wish to spend an entire day dealing with unwelcome guests, I am not going to worry about it. Worry is just a down payment on something that may never happen. With that being said, it’s always good to have a plan in place just in case you find yourself in an impromptu hosting situation!
Do you have a plan if something happens on social media or on the farm?
Yes, yes, and yes. Through our national and state checkoffs, there are a ton of resources and personnel available if I need help in any situation. Also in my proverbial toolbox are some local agencies that have agreed to help if, or when, these situations arise. It is always good to be overprepared. If, or when, someone unexpectedly appears at our farm gate, I want to make the long-lasting impression that I was prepared for them.
What advice do you have for a dairy advocate just starting out? Where should they invest their time?
Have fun. Do not do this unless you plan on having a good time doing it. Also, you do not have to post every day. Post when you feel like it. Document the things you love the most, not just cows! People love to see the cows, but it is also important to find relatable common ground. Currently, TikTok has become a hot platform. If I were going to start from scratch today, I would create a TikTok account first.
What's your favorite social media platform right now?
My favorite platform is TikTok. TikTok’ers seem genuinely interested in learning. The demographic is incredibly engaging and full of curiosity. TikTok is also known for the birth of many now-viral videos and sounds that appeared overnight. This means quick exposure is more attainable through TikTok than with other platforms at the moment.
If you were starting over with social media, is there anything you would change?
Not specifically. Everything you do and every experience you have adds to your character and makes you who you are. I made some big mistakes and I did some dumb things, but I learned from them. The only thing I wish I did differently, earlier, was to follow more diverse creators and join more diverse groups that had nothing to do with agriculture. If we are going to bust out of our farm gates and stop writing love letters to ourselves, we have to break the ice with those who have never seen a cow before.
If you want to get started on social media and advocate like Tyler, I recommend you reach out to your local dairy checkoff. See how they can help get you started using social media to connect directly with consumers.
To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit www.USDairy.com or send a request to join our Dairy Checkoff Facebook group.