Seeds Get Social

July 29, 2011 10:02 AM
Seeds Get Social

Companies use technology to reach farm customers

Seed companies are closing the communication gap one social platform at a time. The tried-and-true methods of communication are still intact, but Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are providing new avenues for seed companies to spread the word about issues, news and new products.

"In agriculture, we have learned so much about social media in the past few years that now it’s really coming on like gangbusters," explains Janice Person, Monsanto cotton communications lead. "Using the various forms of social media helps us transparently communicate about the contributions of farmers as well as support Mon-santo’s business."

Pioneer Hi-Bred began to realize the value of social media when it estab-lished a Twitter account.
"Twitter was a good, quick entryway to start talking to multiple audiences," says Kristie Bell, international web manager for Pioneer.

As is common with other companies, Pioneer uses Twitter to inform followers about high-level global issues, such as food security challenges and increasing the productivity gap.

"We feel that not only does it speak to collaborators, partners, customers and the media, but it gives consumers exposure to those issues," Bell says.

Show and tell. Seed companies are turning to YouTube as a way to communicate via video. Dow AgroSciences’ selection includes several farmer-focused videos on nitrogen loss and corn silage hybrids. The company also has videos for consumers, explaining the need to increase agriculture productivity to feed more people worldwide. For example, its video "Dow AgroSciences Providing Solutions for a Growing World" explains why biological and chemical technologies are necessary to ensure food security.

"For all of our communications, our goal is to deliver information in the ways growers prefer to receive it, whether that’s through social media outlets or traditional print and broadcast media," says Susan Carney, marketing communications leader for Dow AgroSciences. "As use of YouTube and social networking sites increase, we’ll continue to use those avenues to communicate to growers."

Then there’s the world of Facebook. Syngenta has implemented Facebook into its social media strategy and values it as a medium that helps it connect with the agriculture community in a meaningful way.

"Currently, growers and industry leaders use the web and social media channels to gather weather forecasts, product information, scouting reports and marketing information," says Anthony Transou, Internet marketing manager for Syngenta.

Even though seed companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon, they all are quick to point out that the conversation can’t stop there.

"It’s really easy to think social media is going to be the answer for everything," Person says. "The reality is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about customizing its use to offer real benefits."

Transou agrees that social media is only one way for his company to keep the conversation going.
"Social media is an extension of the conversations Syngenta has with growers on a daily basis through sales representative visits, farm shows, trial plots and in agriculture trade publications," he says.

In the past three years, use of social media in agriculture has grown—and it will continue to grow as farmers become more tech savvy and look for ways to keep the lines of communication open and accessible.

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