Farmers using social media to improve business

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - More farmers are now turning to social media to network and market their products.  Many people in the agriculture business say they are reaching more people than ever before, using tools like Facebook and Twitter to help.

In this day and age, a smart phone has become as important to a farmer as a tractor or a plow they would use in a field like this, and social media is a big part of that.

Even if they don't use it, it would be hard to find many people who aren't at least familiar with the terms Facebook and Twitter, and people in the agricultural world are catching on.

"Facebook and Twitter has become the new way to communicate, and it's certainly appropriate as agriculturalists that we accept that and use that," said Agriculture Blog founder Chris Simms.

Chris and Jennie Simms live on the family farm Chris grew up on, but they work on the business side of agriculture.  The couple founded a blog called Agtually, which they use to tell the story of agriculture, and they now reach out to their followers through Facebook and Twitter.

"People have an increasing desire to know where the food comes from and where it is being grown, so people are going to search that information out," Chris Simms said.

Today, farmers are using Facebook to connect with consumers and Twitter to connect with each other.  Farm stores and Farmer's Markets use social media to draw in new customers.  We talked with Jennie outside while she was checking Facebook on her iPad.  She tells us this would not have been possible even a decade ago when dial up was their only internet option.

"When you go out to the fields and visit the farmers, no longer is it the over halls, the straw hat, the hay in the mouth," Jennie Simms said. 'It's people keeping up with the markets on their iPads. It's people keep up with the news on their smart phones."

"10 years ago we never would have comprehended that we would be standing out in our yard, out in the field, out on the farm tweeting and facebooking and telling people what's actually going on," Chris said.

And as this trend grows in popularity in the agriculture business, there are now conventions and meetings and workshops devoted solely to the topic of social media.

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