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Making connections in a skeptical world

By Staff | Jan 2, 2014

Sharon Palmer

DES MOINES – As more farmers look for ways to tell their story in the digital age, the tools available to get the job done are exploding.

“There are so many options with social media today,” said Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian from Duarte, Calif., who spoke November at the 2013 National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture in Des Moines.

“Smartphones are making it easier than ever to access social media,” Palmer said, “which can save you a lot of time.”

Palmer offered tips in using various social media sites, including:

A.) Facebook. This popular social media site offers a powerful way to connect with like-minded people, Palmer said. Post compelling farm photos to invite conversations about food and agriculture. Also, post regularly, but don’t get carried away. “People get tired of seeing too many posts each day from one person,” said Palmer, who prefers to post two to three times per week.

B). Twitter. Palmer said this is her favorite social media tool, since it’s a good platform to share informational tidbits including links to blog posts, relevant articles and pictures.

“Select a Twitter handle that clearly identifies who you are,” said Palmer, whose handle is @SharonPalmerRD.

Also, considering hosting a Twitter party, which offers a fun, online venue for meeting customers, launching a new product or getting people talking.

Simply pick the time and the hashtag, and invite people to the conversation.

Palmer said she has hosted Twitter parties ranging from whole grains to tips on encouraging kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. A Twitter party is easy to put together and has the potential to generate hundreds, if not thousands, of tweets in just a couple of hours, Palmer said.

C). LinkedIn. This social networking boasts more than 76 million users and is mainly used for professional networking, said Palmer, who encourages farmers to create a LinkedIn profile.

“LinkedIn offers a good way to connect with colleagues in your industry,” Palmer said, “and get advice from other entrepreneurs.”

D). Pinterest. This online “bulletin board” has become wildly popular, especially among American Pinterest users, who spend an average of 77 minutes on the site each time they log on.

“Pinterest is all about pictures, and it’s a tool for connecting and organizing things you love,” Palmer said.

Try creating one board for your farm, or add multiple Pinterest boards related to your areas of interest.

Also, look at other people’s Pinterest boards and select items you’d like to re-pin, or share, through your Pinterest board. A good example is Griggs Dakota Farm (www.pinterest.com/griggsdakota/pins/).

Fred and Jane Lukens, who live on a fifth-generation family farm, use Pinterest to share stories of farming practices, rural life and food production.

Their various Pinterest boards feature landscape photos of the North Dakota skyline and historic photos from their family’s farm.

“Remember, most people live in urban areas,” Palmer said. “They love to see photos of rural and farm life.

“Things you think are common, everyday occurrences are interesting to many people.”

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