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Get real with consumers about farm life

Sompong Lekhawattana /Getty Images hands holding smart phone liking photos on social media
GET NOTICED: Instagram is one social media app that farmers and next-generation farmers are using to share their story. However, our College Farmer found users like people in the pictures more than just pretty farmscapes.
College Farmer: Raw images of the farm have been shared with an Instagram audience.

In January 2020, I created an Instagram page specifically focused on agriculture. I was inspired to use this platform to share my family’s farm story, connect with others in the industry and diversify my portfolio within agricultural communications.

As I posted more frequently, I noticed a trend. Each time I shared a picture of myself, my friends or my family members, those posts almost always generated more engagement than others featuring our crops, livestock, nature, favorite quotes — pretty much anything else. As I scrolled through my feed, I realized I also interacted more with similar types of posts.

While this confused me at first, it started to make more sense. In fact, the reasoning is quite simple: People relate best with other people.

Share your experiences

In agriculture, we’re in the business of establishing trust and building relationships with each other and our consumers. More often than not, this doesn’t come from using complex terms or stating a bunch of facts and figures.

Rather, it’s the result of sharing personal stories, drawing on similarities, and explaining how and — perhaps more notably — why we do what we do. This helps people form connections and relate with where we’re coming from, thus deepening their awareness and promoting greater understanding.

If you’ve read any of my previous columns, you might have noticed I tend to reflect on the experiences and people who shaped my upbringing and perspective. While this is mainly because I feel most comfortable speaking on these topics, my main rationale for doing so is to highlight the human aspect of agriculture and leave a lasting impression on readers.

Keep it simple

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is absolutely a need for all types of news in agriculture and individuals talented at writing for different audiences. But we don’t always need to use perfectly posed photos, fancy graphics, catchy slogans or complicated terms to reach others. Rather, we just need to invite others into the cab of our tractor or offer them a seat at our dining room table and have a conversation.

If you’re interested in telling your family or farm’s story on social media, go for it! Share content you love and feel passionate about, but don’t shy away from getting in front of the camera, too. It may take some getting used to — trust me, I feel like cows, corn and sunsets are much more photogenic than I am — but the result is much more impactful.

Most importantly, don’t get so caught up on what you’re trying to say that you forget who you’re talking to. Simply start by showing and telling others who you are. Our audiences want to put a face to the industry and see the real, raw and authentic parts of agriculture. After all, that’s part of what makes this type of lifestyle so special.

Quinlan is a senior in agriculture education, communications and leadership at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Contact her at

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