BY LAUREN CHASE (Montana Stockgrowers Association)
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present at Montana’s Young Ag Couples Conference in Helena. This conference is geared towards enlightening the state’s young farmers and ranchers about ways to make their lives in agriculture a success. My task was to talk to the couples about using social media as not only an advocacy tool, but also as a means to market their business.
Before I presented, I sat down at a table of about four couples for lunch. One woman leaned over to me and asked what I was there for…the lack of a male sitting next to me must have made it obvious I wasn’t there as an attendee. I told her I was a speaker and gave my elevator pitch about using social media to tell ag’s story.
Everyone heard and had comments.
Now, here’s where my anthropology side kicked in.
The women at the table were very interested in talking about how they use their Facebook accounts, the difference between using a laptop and using a smartphone, and talked about reasons advocacy is important.
One of the cowboy husbands laughed and said: “I just use the phone for Angry Birds.” His other rancher buddy agreed.
The question that spawned from this is: Is social media, for those in agriculture, a feminine thing? Are the tough cowboys typically against updating Facebook statuses and Tweeting….or is it more a matter of gender roles and time consumption?
I completely understand not being able to Tweet as you’re out roping a new calf in the freezing Montana winter. And I also understand that when you get home after a long day of physical labor, you may not want to jump on the computer and write a blog about your day. But is that a reason why males in ranching tend to let their wives run their Facebook pages? Or is it because ranchers tend to very humble?
After my presentation, it was the women, again, who approached me to talk more about it. They said that they have been trying for months to convince their husbands that the ranch needs a Facebook page and that the guys hearing it from me, an outsider, will hopefully now understand its importance.
If all of this is the case…if the males tend not to be on social media…and the females do…maybe that’s something we need to recognize in our messaging to consumers. Our advocates are women and our audience is women.
All of this is just based on observations at one convention in Montana. This may or may not apply elsewhere, but it’s something I just wanted to bring up.
My response to myself would be that the utilization of Pinterest looks like a good way to teach primarily women about agriculture. For those who haven’t ventured over there yet, the site allows users to share images of items they like such as clothing, furniture, food, drinks, and much more. Users can also uploaded their own images…say, children on farms or a new calf…hint hint.
This post isn’t meant to discourage males from social media. In fact, ranchers like Troy Hadrick, Ryan Goodman, Jeff Fowle, Scooter Moody and many other men are doing a tremendous job at advocating and it’s greatly appreciated.
I’m just curious what others have observed in their own states…