30 Days: Discovering Agriculture and Food via Twitter

Discovering Agriculture and Food via TwitterConversations Are Connected For the topics like agriculture and food, Twitter is a great place to start listening in on what is being said and who is saying it.

Using hashtags (see What Do You Know About #Hashtags? and Non-ag Hashtags You Should Be Watching) is a way to start discovering the conversations and issues. For example, the hashtag #RealPigFarming highlights what pork farmers are doing. #Antibiotics brings out the conversations about antibiotics, of which overuse in agriculture is of concern to some consumers. And #NYTFFT highlights the New York Times Food For Tomorrow conference conversations held November 11 and 12, 2014.

Once you find conversations you can move on to curating (collecting, sorting, and organizing) the information. One approach is to organize people you discover on Twitter into lists. For example, @TruffleMedia organizes people on Twitter in to some broad agriculture focused lists like beef, dairy, or swine. Creating and organizing lists like this helps when there is a need to ask questions of people in those specific ag topics.

Another list example is @KeepCaFarming‘s Water Resources list. This list, as they put it, is a “good reputable sources we recommend on issues pertaining to the California Water Crisis“. Their need to understand a specific issue lead them to finding others sharing water issues and organizing a list. Again, it helps @KeepCaFarming‘s outreach efforts plus the list provides a source of information from interesting people. Learn more from Twitter about creating and using lists.

Another curation approach is to summarize conversations that occur. With millions of tweets flowing by daily, it can be impossible to keep conversations straight, especially after an event. Using a resource like Storify can help find a select set of tweets, and set those aside in a story board that can be shared back to others.

For example, Jackie Wei created a story board from the Tweets during the New York Time Food For Tomorrow panel on “What to Do About Food Loss and Food Waste“. The food event generated over 7,000 tweets so a story board on a selected topic helps bring focus and context within a story.

Finally, you can look at tools to analyze tweets to either gain a big picture point of view or to see if there are any relationship that are interesting. For example, Mention Map creates a graph of people on Twitter and the conversation connections (using hashtags). ThinkUp serves up reflections and thoughts from your Twitter community. And, SocialBro provides detailed stats on you, your lists, and followers.

Using hashtags and analysis tools can help filter out the noise on Twitter and help you focus on the conversations that are important to you in food and agriculture.

written by John Blue


John Blue, as Chief of Community Creation for Truffle Media Networks, develops the ability to engage agricultural focused audiences throughAgChat Foundation Board of Director John Blue marketing, technology, and in person interactions. Social and new media tools allow anyone to easily share their story with audience groups large and small.  For agriculture, having easy access to social and new media tools is an important step toward having real conversations with people not directly involved in bringing food to the plate. In his free time, John volunteers extensively for the AgChat Foundation and plays a key role in the success of ACF. 
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