The role that SM can play in the Agronomist’s life
Agronomists all over the world engage in social media (SM). Depending on how it’s used, it can be a productive forum for promoting products and ideas germane to your business.
But there’s a balance. I’ve always viewed SM platforms as a way for customers to see the real you. They want to see your perspective on life and business and frankly don’t mind if you promote your employer and products. Obviously, if every post is about a product and how great is it, you’ll be dismissed quickly and viewed as nothing more than a used car salesman. Avoid direct criticism of competitors. Focus on you and yours and let your followers decide on the importance and value of your posts.
While privacy matters, sharing photos and family activities is very popular among followers because they get to see you outside of the business. You’re a member of their community and it’s okay for customers to see that you’re normal…or abnormal, depending on their perspective. They want to know if they can relate to you and vice versa. Certainly, engage in this manner if you’re comfortable with it but don’t fake it. Most folks can see through phony posts.
Every SM platform is different but decide on your focus and develop a strategy. Some platforms are centered around photos and videos while others are more for storytelling. I find that most of the agricultural community prefers Twitter for “pure” agriculture (#agtwitter) and Facebook for family and groups. Each has its purpose, and one may fit your “style” more than another.
You can participate in as many as you like but one warning – it can consume time. Decide on a game plan, create posts that are productive and watch your time commitment. Also be sure that your employer is supportive of your engagement. Not all are.
THE GOOD and THE BAD
The good. I’ve been on Twitter for about seven years (as of 2021) and have 6,500+ followers. My intention from the beginning was to use it as an educational tool; to teach about agronomy as it relates to the seed business. Quizzes, daily posts, videos, threads, polls, retweets of productive posts from other agronomists, tons of photos and selfies with the latter helping followers to get to know me.
Some posts have high levels of engagement with over several million “impressions” over the course of a few months. An impression is when a reader pauses to look at your post, clicks on it or retweets it. While not all positive, most of these impressions either raised awareness of products or ideas or even taught a customer or two something about agronomy. Also, I prefer to engage in a positive way versus using controversy. Too, unless deleted, posts can be searched so my content is somewhat “forever.”
The bad. Your attitude is key to being successful on SM. “Thin skinned folks need not apply.” Folks will reply with hateful, ignorant, uneducated, unproductive comments that will absolutely bring your blood to a boil. I generally don’t tolerate this behavior and let them know it. The “mute” or “block” buttons can be your best friends. Engagement in SM doesn’t have to be stressful. Help yourself out though by keeping posts professional with correct spelling and punctuation. As I like to say, “carry on as if you actually attended your college classes.”
How you present yourself on SM speaks volumes about your character. Be mindful that prospective customers might be watching “from a distance.” If they meet you and remember that ugly post you made about somebody they know (politicians included), you’ll likely not have a business relationship with them.
I want you to do well. ~ph