3 ways LinkedIn can be an effective tool for farmers
The LinkedIn community is growing in the agriculture industry, but where do individual farmers fit in?
According to the social media management application Hootsuite, LinkedIn had 875 million active members from 200 countries as of February 2023.
In a global context, that's a fairly low number of active members, especially compared to Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram, which have nearly nine billion users combined.
However, agriculture on LinkedIn is considered a specialty in social media, aligning with the platform’s strong focus on business networking versus the wide variety of content created on other platforms.
As a farmer, Ferré Stang sees a disconnect between farmers and this business-focused platform, but she still feels the gap is closing.
“I feel like once people get a chance to explore it a little bit more, they might be pleasantly surprised with what they find,” Ferré Stang says.
Here are three ways LinkedIn can be an effective tool for farmers:
1. Access to decision-makers
Farmers may find their seed dealers, agronomist and different businesses on LinkedIn, and Ferré Stang says that also means they have “unfiltered access to decision makers.”
LinkedIn will be where agricultural minds' meetings are happening.
“You could follow the CEO of a company and potentially ask them a question or comment on other posts... it opens up the playing field to have a constructive discussion and to get ideas and thoughts from thought leaders.”
Government and business leaders are taking this shift in conversation seriously, Ferré Stang says, and LinkedIn will be where those meetings of minds are happening.
2. Complementary to other platforms
How social media platforms are used varies among platforms, and civil discourse is just one difference in how posting changes from one platform to another; X (previously called Twitter) has numerous examples where anonymity creates a lack of accountability for knee-jerk reactions.
While X has a robust agricultural community, Ferré Stang points out that it can complement LinkedIn. However, as a professional platform, LinkedIn keeps the conversation civil, with users thinking twice before posting.
When Amy VanderHeide engages with farmers online, she does so across numerous platforms. Farmers use social media to advocate and share the industry with the broader world and give everyone a first-hand opportunity to learn, says the Nova Scotia chicken farmer and member of several boards, including the Do More Ag Foundation.
The message may be the same on different platforms, but the tone is different.
VanderHeide first goes to Facebook and Instagram to share videos of fun farming activities. When lobbying or speaking to standing committees on agricultural issues, she turns to LinkedIn.
“You do get farmers responding, but it's more ‘this is my professional voice’ versus my social media fun voice.”
3. Better discussions
When dealing with business professionals, there is not only civility, but VanderHeide says the message is better received when respect comes first.
“It's more of a setting where people can go and look at that product or service more closely than if you just mentioned them randomly in another online conversation. So it brings that knowledge sharing a little closer together and makes it a little more realistic than getting lost in a Twitter thread or something that’s gone in 15 seconds on Instagram.”
Social media uses have shifted, especially since the pandemic made online media presence a sales necessity for local agriculture businesses and as a way to connect with consumers. Through online networking opportunities, farmers, business professionals, and communicators took to gathering online.
Farmers can continue to take advantage of social media opportunities by combining online get-togethers with in-person meetings. And when business-oriented platforms such as LinkedIn are used, the door opens for farmers to build diversity in their team of experts and peers with whom they consult. It’s just a matter of getting online and exploring.
Article by: Becky Zimmer