My Top Social Media Tips for Farmers: REVEALED!

There’s nothing better than talking food and farming. That’s why I was honored when the editors at the Iowa Soybean Association recently asked me to answer five “ask the expert” questions for the Summer 2013 Iowa Soybean Review.

5 Questions with Darcy Maulsby

1.  What does agriculture mean to you?
#Faith, #family and #food.

2.  In what ways do you serve as a spokesperson for agriculture?
I try to post updates daily on Twitter and Facebook, which is almost like a mini-blog for me. I’m also a member of the Iowa Farm Bureau Speaker Corps, which has given me the opportunity to do media interviews with BloombergUSA Today, the Des Moines Register and 1040 WHO Radio. In addition, I’ve delivered keynote speeches at the regional meetings of various ag commodity groups encourage others to help share agriculture’s story.

3.  Why do you feel it is important for farmers be involved in social media?
If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu. People are talking about food, farmers and agriculture every day in social media. While there’s a lot of misinformation, I’m glad these conversations are taking place, because it means ag is relevant. As the author Oscar Wilde noted, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

We have powerful opportunities every day to influence these conversations. Even better, we can make it happen in a matter of seconds from our smartphones or computers. If we don’t take the initiative to share our positive stories, we run the risk of always appearing defensive and contrarian. I never want to miss an opportunity to share what farmers are doing right and show how we are always looking for ways to improve.

4.  What tips do you have for farmers who want to have an online presence?

• Start by listening. Get a feel for how people interact on social media platforms, and make comments on posts that resonate with you.

• Be authentic. You don’t have to be a professional public relations specialist to join the conversation. Explain what you do on your farm, and use lots of pictures to help tell the story.

• Find common ground.  Both farmers and our non-farm friends support clean water, healthy food, animal well-being and conservation. Show how your farming practices contribute to these goals.

• Build bridges, not walls. While it’s easy to say we must educate our non-farm friends, people can be offended by the implication that they aren’t educated. I prefer to call it connecting the dots. Plant the seeds of change by sharing agriculture’s story from the farmer’s perspective. This can also be a good way refute common myths—or at least get people thinking there might be another side to the story.

• Don’t be boring. Mix things up, and throw in a curve ball now and then. I sometimes talk about cooking, crazy things that happen during the day, my pets and other topics that relate to my life on an Iowa farm but appeal to a wide range of people.

5.  As you evolve your agricultural voice, what message do you want your followers to hear?
I’m proud of my family’s farming heritage and love sharing an inside look at the modern miracle that is Iowa agriculture.

Editor’s note: Darcy (Dougherty) Maulsby grew up on a Century Farm between Lake City and Yetter. Darcy earned her undergraduate degrees in journalism/mass communication and history from Iowa State University (ISU) in 1996. She completed her master’s degree in business administration and marketing at ISU in 2004. In addition to running her own ag marketing/communications company (www.darcymaulsby.com) since 2002, Darcy enjoys helping out on her family’s corn and soybean operation. She also serves as vice president of the Calhoun County Farm Bureau and is a member of the Iowa Soybean Association’s Ag-Urban Initiative class of 2013.

You can follow Darcy on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/darcy.maulsby on Twitter at http://twitter.com/darcymaulsby

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