Unfortunately, we have taken our unique positions as farmers and ranchers for granted. We have forgotten that we see, work, and live in an environment that 98 percent of Americans will never know. America knows little about farming and ranching and we need to fix that. Not everyone wants to know where their food comes from but everyone needs to know how important agriculture is to our country, our community, and our world.
So, how do you start agvocating?
It's really a lot easier than you'd think...and no I'm not just saying that to make you feel better. Blogging, social networking, and video file sharing may seem intimidating at first but it doesn't have to be if you break it down. Work piece by piece and eventually this agvocating thing will be no problem...a piece of cake...a piece of crumb cake (name that movie). But first things first, you need an account. Now whether you choose to start with social networking or with blogging you still need to sign up and don't be afraid to explore the site.
Facebook and Twitter are two great sites for connecting with other people that you know or that have similar interests. These are good for sharing tidbits of your thoughts and websites. However, they do limit how much you can type. Facebook limits you to 240 characters where Twitter is only 150. Do not fret, if you have a website you'd like to share and it is too long you can use bit.ly. Bit.ly is an automatic website shortener and it saves all your sites so you only have to enter them once. It is powered by Twitter so you can use the same sign in for both sites.
If you have a lot more to say, I would suggest a blog. Blogger (which is what you are on now) and Word Press are the two most widely used free blog websites. They each have a step-by-step tutorial which will walk you through signing up and getting started. The best blogs post everyday, however, you do not have to start that way. You can post as often or as little as your schedule allows. With a blog, you can share your thoughts, photos, videos, links to news stories or other blogs, along with anything else you fancy. Think of it as your own secret public journal.
Video file sharing
Another great way to agvocate is to "show" instead of "tell." If you have a digital video camera or are willing to buy one (flip cameras are easy to use and inexpensive) you can share videos of your farm or ranch or anything else (keep in mind children might see this, not that you'd do anything lewd). YouTube accounts are easy to set up and downloading videos is only a mouse click away. Give a farm tour, show an everyday choir that most people don't get to see, let people see your animals, tractors, etc. Keep in mind that most people don't get to see what we see and even though it is mundane to you it is fascinating to others. Get out there and show off your farm!
You can do this!
Think you don't have anything important enough to post? Maybe you just don't have a story to tell? Are you thinking that you'll run out of things to say or that what you have to say just doesn't matter?
Well THINK AGAIN buddy! In this day and age of animal rights activists attacking animal ag and consumers' increasing concerns for the environment we need to put ourselves out there in order to help educate the public. They will not understand what we do or how we do it if someone does not take the initiative to educate them. Besides, everyone has a story to tell, especially farmers and ranchers. Keep in mind, 98% of America has no idea what it is like to be a farmer or rancher. People will read your blog--maybe not at first but give it time--and you'll have a great time telling everyone how great rural life can be. You are ready for the first step...so take it!
Other sites to help you on your way:
Best Blogging Platforms -- See which 5 blogging platforms are most widely used.
Google Analytics -- This allows you to track how many hits your blog gets and where they are coming from. If you need help setting it up this How To article is the best I've found to explain it step-by-step.
Operation Main Street -- A training program through Pork Checkoff.
Pork Report Magazine -- Flip to page 18 to read Social Media Mayhem.