The Odd Couple: California’s Farming Community and Social Media

Look inside a California farmer’s tractor these days, and you’re likely to see a few highly advanced gadgets you wouldn’t expect. Smartphones and tablets are now a mainstay in modern tractor cabins, in addition to a robotic auto-steer device hooked up to a GPS.

More often than not, California farmers are using their mobile devices to gather information and stay connected with their community, which naturally includes being active on social media.

According to one recent survey, 40% of farmers use Facebook, 17% use LinkedIn, and 14% use Twitter.

You can attribute part of the rise in farmers’ social media use to a new crop of young farmers used to connectivity. Millennials are flocking to agricultural careers, leading to huge growth in first-time farmers in regions like California. These farmers bring new practices with them, such as having an active social media presence and readily sharing their daily sights and experiences with the world.

All of this outreach is having a positive effect on how people see farmers and the agricultural industry at large.

“We use social media to give agricultural issues that human element, to put a face to the farm,” explains Joanna Smithof the California Farm Bureau Federation. “We want people to listen. We need them to understand why it’s important to protect our farm and ranch families.”

Thanks to the efforts of farmers both young and old, their work and its importance is more visible than ever. Learn more as we explore how California’s farming community uses social media and how it has had an impact on the public at large.

How California Farmers Stay in Touch With the World While Literally Out in the Field

You can put a lot of different words behind why today’s farmers choose to be active on social media: outreach, advocacy, awareness, visibility, education. But at the end of the day, their goal for using social media is the same as anyone else’s. They want to share their experiences and be heard. Posting content on social media helps tell their side of the story and it also ensures their unique voice is contributing to the worldwide social conversation.

These contributions help people unfamiliar with the agricultural world gain perspective and understand what it’s like to spend a little time in a farmer’s boots. Sometimes, what surprises people most when they compare their lives and the typical farmer’s are the similarities, not the differences.

For instance, a Northern Californian farmer by the name of Tim recently made waves in the gaming community when he revealed on Reddit that he plays the popular farming simulation Stardew Valley while riding on his tractor. Since much of his day during planting season involves being driven around by GPS-guided autosteer, Tim brings his Nintendo Switch gaming console along to pass the time. “Literally every farmer with autosteer brings at least a book with them to kill the boredom.”

Tim’s Reddit post also help fans of the game better understand the challenges real-life farmers face, such as volatile commodity pricing. “Imagine if you went into [the game’s] shop to sell rice and he says he’s dropping his farmers, so you’ve got all this produce you’ve spent all year growing and dumping money and time into and now nowhere to sell it,” Tim explains. “It’s happened more than once to us, and we’re left scrambling.”

Other farms use social media to show off the wide range of agricultural products they produce that you wouldn’t have access to in a typical grocery store setting.

@namu_farm, for instance, shows off their selection of specialty crops rarely seen outside of East Asian cuisine, including Japanese adzuki beans and Korean daepa onions. @schanerfarmstand loves to post artistic pictures of its various poultry eggs from ducks, turkeys, pheasant, and guinea hens.

Still other accounts prefer to highlight the sights and sounds farmers are surrounded by every day. @riverdogfarm loves showing piles of its bountiful harvest stacked high. @mountainbountyfarm prefers depicting staff hard at work in the field or the greenhouse in addition to artful arrangements of their seasonal harvests.

Why California Farmers Connect Through Social Media

Today’s farmers desire to stay connected for many specific reasons that go beyond the mere impulse to share and be heard. Almond Girl Jenny, for instance, frequently shares recipes along with photos from around the farm. She hopes not just to boost interest in sales of almonds, her signature crop, but also to inspire others to care more about farming and nature.

Other farmers are less vocal online and just want to stay connected. According to one recent survey, 71% of farmers “always” take their smartphone with them while doing work. Social media ranks fourth for the most-common use of their smartphones.

27% of those surveyed said they use social media weekly.

Listening to podcasts and watching informative videos is another highly ranked activity for farmers. 72% of farmers say they watch videos on YouTube, and 83% say they listen to and download podcasts related to the agriculture industry. Social chatter is a great way to discover these podcasts, share them with friends, and keep up with new episode announcements.

Social media can help farmers achieve their marketing goals, as well. Last fall, the California Milk Advisory Board created a new series that shone a spotlight on the families of California dairy farmers. The aim of sharing the series through social was to encourage consumers to search for the “Real California Milk” seal while shopping in order to support regional agriculture.

Some farms even use social media to help support a side business by generating new leads and raising awareness for their products. For example, in addition to being a small organic farm that sells specialty crops at farmer’s markets and local grocers, @ojaivistafarm also operates as an agricultural resort. The farm’s branding promises to help people get back in touch with nature and themselves. Sharing gorgeous photos from around the farm helps them earn traffic and leads that can convert to bookings.

So whatever the goal — be it lead generation, awareness, advocacy, or just showing what life is like behind the wheel of a tractor — social media helps California’s agricultural community achieve it.

If you have a consumer-facing agribusiness or a business that vends primarily to farmers, social media marketing can therefore be an incredibly effective tool. You can create a winning social strategy and share your unique story to the world by working with digital marketing experts like Prospero. To find out more about how we promote farmers who are outstanding in their field, contact us today!