I’m sure that pretty much everybody reading this has heard the term ‘social media’, and while most folks nod their heads, and say ‘oh sure, I’ve heard of it’, I wonder how many of us truly understand exactly what it is? And just as importantly how we should use it here in the world ofagriculture. According to the internet’s encyclopedia Wikipedia it is “Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”
Huh? Let me put it this way, in the old days (say the 90s) websites were pretty much one way, we posted something, you read it. And that was it, oh you could send us an email or get in touch with us, but we were pretty much talking to you. However, today you can talk back to us and even more importantly you can pretty much stay in touch with folks all over the world, even if you don’t have a clue as to who or what they are. Don’t like what’s written on a website? Comment on it (if comments are permitted) and if comments aren’t, go to Facebook® or Twitter® and express your pleasure or displeasure there. After all everybody does it.
Did a co-worker or maybe your boss make you angry? How about that family member who did you wrong what you wanted? Or how about the old boyfriend or girlfriend who cheated on you? Now you can get back at them from the comfort of your front room; just write something on your Facebook® profile, and let your ‘Facebook Family’ (a term I’ve never, ever understood) comment on it, hey maybe they’ll even click the ‘like’ button or even better ‘share’ it with everyone on their list. It’s all part of our ever changing world and those changes seem to be coming at an ever increasing rate. Often we don’t really think about the consequences of what we type or post or say online and we really do need to slow down a bit and think about it.
How you use social media can have a dramatically negative impact on your life and it’s important that you remember that whatever you type onto a website, or blog, or text message can stay there forever. Those pictures of you doing Tequila shoots at a party that you posted in 2008, are still there somewhere, that comment you made about how your boss is the meanest, nastiest person in the world that you wrote when you were upset is still there somewhere, stuck in time. Oh, and future bosses can easily see how you behave in public.
But the proper use of social media is also a very good thing, because it does allow us to keep in touch and to share information that is important and useful to us all. We see it when there’s a natural disaster or social unrest, without Twitter or Facebook, how many of us would have known about the troubles and uprisings in the Mid-East?
And social media is being used more and more in the world of agriculture, by more and more companies and we’re no different than anyone else. For example, here at World Of Ranching, we have a facebook page and we also have one our rodeo news site WorldOfRodeo.com, and for our livestock management software system TodaysRancher.com, and those pages are where we post stories and information and links that we think are important and informative here in the world of agriculture.
Our news sites WorldOfRodeo.com and here at WorldOfRanching have twitter accounts where links to our latest news stories are posted; they also have what’s called an RSS feed where you subscribe our news stories can be downloaded onto your smart phone or tablet. We try not to overdo it, because we know that eventually there’s such a thing as information overload and people stop listening or hearing what is being said. The message gets lost in the clutter.
Twitter and Facebook aren’t the only examples of social media, they’re just currently probably the most used by everyone. Social media is here to stay, and unless you intend to completely disconnect from the world, take some time and get to know it, learn the power, learn about the drawbacks. Control it, don’t be controlled by it.