There was an interesting article on the Western Producer website. It was about a speaker encouraging rural area businesses to get involved with the social media craze that has engulfed the world.
The article was interesting for its content, but more so for the underlying aspect of the story, that rural areas are behind in terms of using the tools of social media to get their story out to the masses.
Using tools such as Twitter and Facebook, have become pretty common place for most people these days. Most of us are as apt to check our Facebook page as we are our email.
Certainly a site like Facebook is flooded with a lot of worthless information, updates on what people are eating for breakfast, or the latest bad joke circulating the Internet, but it is also a freeway which can connect an individual business with their customers, and more importantly with potential new customers.
A small coffee shop can tell those that care what soup they are serving for lunch, or what folk singer is making a stop to perform, and they can do it with a few key strokes.
The message is also well targeted generally going to those who have at least a passing interest in knowing what the soup might be.
And, with another keystroke a person can check with the coffee shop to see if the soup is vegetarian for instance.
Social media allows for immediate discourse between a business and customer.
For farmers such social media sites offer a sort of power they have not truly had for years, not since the time everyone bought food directly from the farm gate.
It’s not a case where every farmer is going to sell their wheat or cattle direct to consumers, but they can still have the discourse.
Over the years there has been a real disconnect between farmers and producers.
In more than a few situations the disconnect has created a level of distrust going both ways.
Many farmers are increasingly worried about food safety, even at a time when almost every farmer in this country is using the more current systems and farm management tools to ensure what they produce is both plentiful and safe.
Farmers can use social media to get that message to a broader base of people.
Through posts and video farmers can pull back the veil of what they do on the farm so consumers regain some of the lost confidence.
Consumers, and in this case that is anyone a farmer befriends through a social media outlet, can also ask questions, and get answers.
Many farmers might see it as imposition posting about what they are doing in the field, or cattle pasture, but increasingly public perception is demanding producers become more proactive in telling their story.
Social media is an effective way to start that process.
Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.