Monarch Butterfly | Woodruff

How Do We Reach the Next Wave of Decision-Makers in Agriculture? Be Social Butterflies

Like farming itself, the way farmers consume media has evolved drastically in recent years. And while print may never completely die with this audience — can you imagine a world where dog-eared copies of Hoard’s aren’t in every farm office? — digital media is ever-more prevalent as a new generation of farmers takes over the industry. As baby boomers retire, more often the decision-makers on the farm are those aged 35 to 50.

This wave of decision-makers hasn’t completely abandoned print media, but they’ve proven to be increasingly eager to embrace social media for their information, entertainment and business needs. Which is good for ag marketers as 2019 comes storming in across the fields.

As marketers, having more and more ways to reach an audience is a good thing. And also, having to use more and more ways to reach an audience is a terrible thing! Since it’s not like there will ever be fewer channels, it’s more important than ever to reach ag audiences in the right place, the right way.

2019: The time for Tweets

Temptation to tweet hasn’t exactly lit the ag world on fire (only 9 percent of farmers indulge the urge to fire off 280-character messages, according to Farm Market ID), but it has been an effective means of communication for some who embrace it for business. And though we’re talking single-digit percentages, that’s no small number of users. That nine percent equates to 300,000 people who aren’t opposed to @ replies. When we break this down into our segments, 26 percent of 35- to 46-year-olds enjoy scrolling through tiny messages.

The long and short of it is that there are 300,000 farmers on Twitter, and you can talk specifically to all of them, if you know how to do it.

Facing the facts about Facebook.

Let’s stroll on down the internet and visit Facebook, the reigning juggernaut of consumers consuming content. It’s a stream that farmers have embraced whole hog. Or, er, half hog, as 46 percent of all ag men and women endure the constant fake news and real babies and baby cats that populate Facebook feeds. That’s a million and a half sets of eyeballs that are pretty easy to target, especially if you’re willing to spend a few bucks boosting your posts. And 9 percent of those use Facebook exclusively for business purposes. Over 130,000 decision-makers using a specific channel to spend and/or make money? Where do we sign up?

Change the other channels

The sea change in the ages of our ag heavies has trickled down to the “lesser” social channels as well. A surprising 17 percent of farmers use LinkedIn, which is a pretty high number considering that only 27 percent of all people on the Internet use the business-centric media stream.

Getting visual with it, a mere 5 percent of farmers are on Facebook’s photocentric app, Instagram. While that’s a pretty small number, there were 700 million Instagram users total in 2017, 30 percent of which were in the age range of those who increasingly run farm operations. Combine this with the fact that 25 percent of “rural” Americans (15 million people) are on the photo app, and no matter how you slice it, Instagram is a pie you want to eat in 2019.

We jokingly referred to this section as the “lesser” channels, but there’s really nothing lesser about YouTube, as it is shockingly the single most popular social media among those who get their hands dirty. More than 1.6 million total farmers smash that “like” button on Google’s video channel, and why wouldn’t they? 35- to 50-year-olds tend to like solving their own problems, and there’s no better place to join 120,000 people who want to learn how to drive a combine or talk to twice that many when showing off your walnut crop.

Beyond the numbers

No matter the industry, if you were told 15 years ago that you would have a tool that let you speak directly to your targets and let them talk back to you, how much would you have paid for it? And now we not only have it but it’s free (to a certain extent), and it’s only becoming more popular with those who control the cash flow in the ag industry. Ag is still one of our older-skewing industries (there are currently six times more farmers over 65 than under 35), but this gap is rapidly closing. And as the 35-to-50 set takes over more operations, social media may very well become the go-to media, like it has with the under-35s.

Life comes at you fast

Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a-changin’,” which is funny because can you imagine Bob Dylan watching an unboxing video? It’s as foreign a concept as thinking of your uncle in his CLAAS LEXION @ replying all day while his precision farming app directs the combine via satellite. But the times are changing, and to get your messages to farmers, you have to know where they are. And they’re on the internet. They’re on social.

The next wave of ag decision-makers is here. Will you catch it?

Give us a call. We can tailor a social media plan that suits any need, whether you want to IG some brand selfies from the cab or put together a full-scale social campaign that targets multiple audiences.