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Agrimarketing : November December 2009
56 Agri Marketing November/December 2009 NEW MEDIA AG PRODUCERS' USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA by Sheree Johnson, Nicholson Kovac, Inc. It's impossible to read a marketing industry magazine, blog or web site and not be bombarded with messages about how new and social media are forever changing the way we, as marketers, communicate with our target audiences. But to what extent is this true in agribusiness? Is it fact or hype? In the spring of 2009, as we began our annual strategic planning process with our many agribusiness clients, we needed answers. Our clients wanted to know the facts about whether or not crop producers were using new and social media. If so, what new and social media channels were important to them and why? No definitive research for the agribusiness industry existed on this topic at that time. So we conducted the industry's first comprehensive study measuring whether or not large-acreage crop producers use new and social media, how they use it, and why. Nicholson Kovac conducted and published the "Agriculture New Media Study" to provide strategic marketing guidance to our clients. The study offers comprehensive insight on the use of social and new media among large-acreage corn and soybean growers, including internet usage, social networking and mobile phone activities for both business and social purposes. TECH SAVVY At the beginning of the study, we knew that crop producers, especially larger operators, were fairly tech savvy. But even with our vast resources in marketing research, we could find no existing research to tell us how or if crop producers were using new and social media tools. This new research provides a number of eye-opening statistics on how corn and soybean growers use their phones and computers, and how they are engaged in social networking. The study shows that both social media and new media are becoming important communication channels for corn and soybean growers across the country. In addition, it provides insight on trends in how large- acreage corn and soybean growers consume a wide variety of media. One surprising statistic is that 62% of large acreage, U.S. corn and soybean growers have sent or received text messages during the past year. Forty-eight percent of those growers texting send five or more texts per day, and 63% of respondents indicated they have taken pictures with their mobile phones. The study also shows that a majority of respondents that do not currently own smart phones plan to purchase one within the next year. STUDY'S HIGHLIGHTS The 35-page study also details the internet usage of these growers: • 47% spend five or more hours per week online, and 23% spend ten or more hours online. • Accessing weather and market reports rank highest in terms of internet use for their business/ farm, aside from utilizing e-mail. • In addition, 85% of respondents indicated that they visit web sites related to their farm operation and 76% check manufacturers' web sites. Another interesting finding is that 86% of respondents have high speed internet. In the 2007 census of agriculture, only 58% of farms had high speed internet connections. This indicates that better internet connections have become more accessible to farms in just two years, showing just how quickly the agricultural industry is adapting to new forms of media. SOCIAL MEDIA The study also explored the presence of growers on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, their use of agribusiness blogs, forums and message boards and their search engine usage and preference. Many respondents confirmed they are actively using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The early adopters and growers who are influencers in their communities are already engaged in exploring new media platforms. The study polled respondents for both current and future social media usage. The findings showed that growers who plan on using social networking sites in the future are thinking of doing so for business- related reasons. Findings were based on 250 personal phone interviews con- ducted in May 2009. Respondents farm an average of 1,500 corn and/ or soybean acres, and they were pre-screened to have a mobile phone and/or a computer with internet access. While Nicholson Kovac developed the study on behalf of its agricultural clients, detailed study findings, including demographics of participants and other highlights, are now available and can be purchased for $750 by visiting www.agnewmediastudy.com. This information has proven invaluable for our agribusiness clients and we are excited to offer this study to others in the agricultural industry that can benefit from it as well. The study proves that large-acreage corn and soybean growers are embracing these new communications channels. This is an exciting new realm of communications, and is quickly bringing agri-marketing to an entirely new level. AM Sheree Johnson is a Senior Vice Presi- dent and Director of Media Services at Nicholson Kovac, Inc. (NK), Kansas City, MO. NK is an integrated market- ing communications company providing services to national and global brands. For additional details, visit www.nicholson kovac.com.
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