May 31 2021 08:00 AM

Optimize your social media potential and engage your followers with the truth of agriculture.

Far too often, I hear that social media is the key to communicating with consumers. Time after time, I have been instructed to post more about life on the dairy farm. Yes, social media is the picture-perfect platform for sharing my agriculture knowledge, but if the message is not properly packaged, it will not be well received by the audience.

This fall, I had the chance to learn more about the correct way to promote dairy through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter while competing in the College Aggies Online Social Media Competition hosted by the Animal Agriculture Alliance. During the nine-week-long contest, I created a minimum of five posts a week and was assigned biweekly challenges, including going live on Facebook, constructing an infographic, and filming my first TikTok video. Throughout the whole process, I received feedback from well-known agriculture influencers.

While this contest brought out my competitive spirit, I took away more than just the top prize among 278 college peers. I discovered how effective genuine and factual content can be when shared with followers. Even the followers I knew who supported agriculture were better able to grasp key messages and modern practices through the use of high-quality graphics and practical wording.

The most crucial advice I obtained is to always post a picture or graphic that can best explain the message you are attempting to convey. Even I am guilty of simply looking at an image on social media, not reading the caption, and scrolling on to the next post. Because of this, I know that most of my followers will view my content the same way. If there is any possibility that a picture could be taken in the wrong context, I refrain from using it.

Most importantly, promoting animal agriculture should be fun! Social media is all about engaging and connecting with friends, so make the most out of it. Instead of preaching, practice gathering participation. I know, easier said than done, but encourage feedback in the comment section or post polls and question boxes on the story feature. Be sure to respond to those messages and show your gratitude for the discussion.

Misconceptions are becoming reality and now, more than ever, producers need to share their knowledge. Our passion for dairy needs to be expressed. This can only be done if we take the time to create content that is digestible to our audience.

Jessica Schmitt

Jessica Schmitt grew up working on her family’s dairy farm near Fort Atkinson, Iowa. She recently completed her junior year at Iowa State University where she is triple majoring in dairy science, international agriculture, and agricultural and life sciences education with a communications option. Schmitt is serving as the 2021 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern this summer.