Social media closes rural/urban divide

SOCIAL media can be a useful tool for farmers if used properly, says Grains Industry Network business support officer, Prudence Cook.

Ms Cook said there was a perception by some that social media was the domain of the young or the bored.

“If you go on social media and have a look by yourself, you won’t know how to do it and you’ll get the perception and it’s all about posting descriptions of menial actions throughout the day,” she said.

“But it really is a system that you can personalise and get a lot out of.”

Ms Cook is currently giving talks around Victoria explaining to agricultural businesses and farmers how they can get the most out of social media.

She said the main reasons agricultural workers would want to use social media was to gather information, to communicate with others in the industry and to foster better relations with urban communities.

She described Twitter as a “fantastic source of information gathering”.

Most peak industry bodies and farming advocacy groups have Twitter accounts.

Twitter blog @AgChatOz has two-hour conversations every week on topics and questions chosen by participants. 

“It’s really leading the way in social media for agriculture,” Ms Cook said. 

“It has got wide involvement, robust debate and covers some diverse topics.”

There are also Twitter accounts specifically for women, such as @RRAWomen, which aims “to close the divide of isolation through technology, social media, networking and discussion”.

YouTube can be used to find technical advice for farmers, and also for simple things like trying to learn a computer function.

She said Facebook could also be useful, and cited “Ask an Aussie Farmer” as an excellent example of a social media site which was creating a conversation between people who live in rural areas and those who live in the city.

“It’s closing the urban/rural divide,” she said. 

“I think agricultural issues are underrepresented in mainstream debates, and social media is a really good opportunity for farmers to get their story out and engage with other people.”

Useful Twitter sites:

Bendigo agriculture reporter @ellyjohnstone

Ag Chat Oz @AgChatOz

Crop Life Australia @CropLifeOz

AUSVEG @AUSVEG

Australian Government National Food Plan @NatFoodPlan

Young Ag Professionals @vff_yaps

Victorian Farmers Federation @vicfarmers

Victorian Federation Livestock @vff_livestock 

Rural and remote Australian women @RRAWomen

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