One of the biggest questions I find (myself included) that ag producers using social media ask is how to connect with people outside of the industry. They are the ones after all that we really want to have a conversation with about food, feed, fuel, and fiber.
I’ve only been doing this agvocate thing for a few months now, but most of the non-ag people I’ve connected with have come to me, or me to them, via twitter. And not just from being on twitter and searching for certain topics, but through twitter chats.
What’s a twitter chat? Most of the chats are weekly, and it’s basically just using a hashtag to have a conversation with a bunch of people on a certain date and time. The easiest way to participate is to go to a site like Tweetchat. I’m sure a lot of you reading this know about #agchat every Tuesday night. In fact this week the point of #agchat is going to be to connect producers and consumers, and four online moms are going to participate and ask us questions and answer ours as well.
I’ve gotten a lot of great contacts through #agchat, but my best non-ag contacts come from the other chats I participate in when I can. The biggest one, and likely the biggest chat of all is #blogchat. This chat was started by Mack Collier. I participate in #blogchat for two reasons. Obviously one is to become a better blogger. There are a ton of people there who are a lot smarter than me when it comes to blogging and I value their input and experience. The second reason is because every time I participate I pick up new twitter followers, and they almost always have a career outside of agriculture. I try to keep in touch with them and see what they have to say on twitter and definitely on their blogs.
Side note: I just sent a tweet out right now responding to something in my twitter stream in a chat about public speaking. So I’ve technically participated in #speakchat as of right now.
— Brian Scott (@thefarmerslife) June 14, 2011
Another chat I just found is #tweetdiner. I only found it this last weekend and jumped in for the last 15 minutes, but I still gained some new followers and followed some myself. Anytime I’m in a chat and see someone interested in food I try to start a conversation with them, even if it’s not about farming right off the bat. I’m curious to find out what they think about agriculture and sometimes they’ll ask me a question. Just last week I had a first on my personal Facebook page. One of my friends wanted to know what was happening with the crops in the field behind her house. She actually ran outside and took some pictures and sent them to me, and I was able to tell her exactly what was happening. She thought enough of it to post her new-found knowledge on twitter.
@thefarmerslife Thanks for the farmland education! I didn't know no-till planting existed!!!
— The Hairpiece (@TheHairpiece) June 8, 2011
I’m sure there are plenty of other chats out there for me to look at, but they can be a bit time-consuming and most of them are in the evening so I try to limit how many I do in a week. There are other ways to connect such as commenting on people’s blogs, but chats are one I felt like elaborating on. I still need to have on offline life too!