NZ farmers encouraged to Twitter

The dawn chorus will have an added ‘tweet’ from now on as New Zealand’s farmers are being encouraged to start using Twitter to connect with their customers.

A forum on social media for farmers, organised by the Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) forum, was held earlier this month.

Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd (B+LNZ)’s mid-northern North Island extension manager Erica van Reenan reports that the forum turned out to have a good turnout from the rural industry. She says representatives left, after an informative six hours, clutching their smartphones, and contemplating how social media could be put to work.

A farmer would want to be on Twitter or Facebook because it enables them to tell their story, explains Reenan. For example, Hunterville sheep and beef farmer and Farmer Council member William Morrison, regularly tweets about life on the farm and has – at the time of writing about 600 followers from all over the world and all walks of life, she says.

“What better way to connect with the people that buy our wonderful products that to tell them the pasture to plate story through a personal connection in easy to understand language.

“There are times when the way we produce food is challenged – more and more, through social media. If you’re not there, how can you defend yourself?” asks Reenan. “Being present allows you to build trust with the customer, who is then more likely to advocate for you.”

As Lincoln University’s Dorje McKinnon put it “Social media is like silage. It can be challenging to get it right – and sometimes it stinks. But, just like the old tractor, it’s a tool and if used right it can add value.”

While 76 percent of New Zealanders have a Facebook account, only 19 percent have a Twitter account, a recent survey has shown.

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