Despite what you might think, research shows young producers aren’t the only ones using social media on the farm. AGWEB.com recently conducted a reader survey that found nearly 70% of readers currently use a social networking site. Of the users surveyed 93% were 35+ years of age. The majority (52%) spent their online hours on Facebook. This finding is similar to the results of a young producer’s survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau this spring. The AFBF surveyed
young producers ages 18-35 and found that 76% of internet-using producers also use Facebook. Online time for most producers has increased in the past few years.
"I spend much more time now than even two years ago just reviewing e-mail," said one surveyed AGWEB.com reader. "A lot of good information is available but it is very time consuming to read what is important to me and sort out what isn’t."
Reading and sorting is exactly what most producers are doing. The AGWEB.com survey found that the majority using Facebook read posts but very few users posted original content. The number of those uploading media such as photos or videos was even fewer. It would seem that the majority of farmers are "lurkers," the social media term for individuals that watch but don’t interact.
The second most used social platform among farmers is YouTube according to the study. The research found that 35% of the surveyed readers actively use the site. While they say they use it, a little less than 4% of those surveyed upload videos. The survey indicated very few AGWEB.com users (less than 10%) use Twitter and of those, more than 40% say they never click on links they see included in Tweets.
So What Are They Doing?
The research conducted by AFBF found that 81% of young producers turn to the internet and social media to gather agriculture news and information. The young producer research also found that many of them are using the social networks to tell the story of agriculture production on their farms.
However the survey of AGWEB.com users found that only about 8% blogged about agriculture production and life on the farm. Lack of knowledge and fear seem to be the cause of the lurking and lack of involvement among the older crowd.
"I think more needs to be done to help older farmers and their families get this information and to help them be less intimidated by the Internet," said one AGWEB.com user. "I know social media is the future."
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