If you have read this column before, you will know that I am a big fan of social media.
As an industry, it gives us a unique opportunity to showcase the truth about what we’re doing, busting any misconceptions or rumours with facts, photos and generally just on-farm proof.
It upsets me, therefore, to still see a small minority posting insensitive, thoughtless content. Transparency? Yes. Shocking and gruesome? No thanks.
Social media has some huge advantages. The biggest one for me is that it gives us a place to use for educating others. Rather than reading facts in lengthy, jargon-filled news articles, social media shows facts in action, as a reality.
It allows us to show consumers what really goes into the sourcing of their food, as well as the truth about an industry which might be distant from their daily lives.
As well as connecting us with consumers, social media has many other benefits. It allows users to communicate and connect with one another, bringing an often-isolated workforce together, even if only “virtually”.
Information and advice can be shared online, informing not only those outside the industry but also those working within it.
I don’t believe, however, that it is necessary to shock our audience with gruesome, alarming content. I still see it happening day after day – photos of sick or dead animals with captions about showing the ”true” side of farming.
Yes, it is true that animals do not live forever, but do you really need to post a photo of that online? These photos often get used against the industry, meaning a select few threaten to damage the reputation of everyone else.
Farming isn’t always pretty. It involves an animal’s life, but we are in an incredible position to be able to share our story with our consumers online.
For those who want to get involved, I urge you to start sharing – it can be fun, educational, and you can “meet” new friends.
You can be open, honest and completely transparent, without being outrageous. Think about what you post online, and who might see it – remember, social media is an open forum.