Avoiding Social Media Burnout

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, you name it, there’s a social media platform out there for it. So many in fact it can feel more than overwhelming to need to be a part of all of them. Here’s my little piece of advice to avoid feeling the social media burn out. You don’t have to be on every platform.

home-office-336378_960_720Every platform is different. Bringing it’s own style, audience and interaction. Each one feels a little bit different. As you go through your journey of Agvocating more than likely you are going to gravitate towards the platforms you feel most comfortable with. When you are familiar and at home with the platform it really allows your true voice to shine through. Instead of worrying about the platform you can focus on the story you want to tell.

It’s ok to say no! There’s definitely a feeling that if you aren’t on every platform you are missing an audience or won’t get noticed. At the same time if it feels like torture to keep up with a platform, then it’s perfectly fine to utilize other routes or just not have a presence there. For myself as Guernsey Dairy Mama I have a hate, love relationship with Twitter. 140 characters and fast paced, it’s just not my style and you wont see me very often tweeting anything original. I found another route with Twitter by linking my Facebook posts. That way I’m findable on Twitter, but don’t have to put effort into a platform I don’t enjoy. There are plenty of other Agvocates out there rocking Twitter, and I am a ok with that!

Social Media should be fun and enjoyable. When you take on too platforms it tends to take the fire out of telling your story. Pick the platforms you enjoy the most and stick to those. When you are enjoying what you’re sharing that enthusiasm will show through those posts.

Don’t let all the platforms under the sun create an eclipse for your social media journey. Pick your favorites, stick to what feels true to you, and rock it! That way you won’t feel burnt out with platforms you don’t even enjoy. Leaving you more time to focus on sharing your story.

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Darleen SichleyDarleen Sichley is a third generation dairy farmer in Oregon. Her passion and dedication for the dairy industry comes from wanting to see it sustain for future generations, she believes a part of that is now bridging the gap with consumers by telling her story. She blogs about life with 3 generations working together everyday for the best care possible of their Guernsey Ladies.

You can also follow her on Facebook,  Instagram and Twitter.

Why Do I AgVocate? – Ashley Messing-Kennedy

What is your role in agriculture?

I am the 3rd generation on my family’s dairy farm where I work with my parents to manage the animals.

What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?

I have always loved writing. It was a creative release for me for years, then I found a group of farmers that were involved in social media and I realized I could combine my love of writing with my love of farming. That was the birth of my first blog 8 years ago!

What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?

I love how many relationships I have gained. I have very close friends all across the country thanks to agvocating.

What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?

The Internet is such an anonymous place. So many people think they can say whatever they want and there are no consequences. Often people type things they would never say something they would never say to a persons face. I find the lack of etiquette and kindness to be challenging.

What advice for other farmer/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?

Find something you enjoy but don’t take on too much. We all have a lot to do between our families and jobs, don’t feel like you need to do everything.

What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

I will never forget attending the first AgChat conference in Chicago. Getting to meet all of these people in real life was amazing!

What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

They took my blogging to a whole new level by providing me with resources and the ability to network.

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Ashley Messy KennedyAshley is a millennial, wife, mom and a dairy farmer. Ashley, her husband, Eric, and daughter Calli live on the dairy farmer she grew up on. As the 3rd generation on the family farm Ashley and her husband are the caretakers of the animals and the farm. In addition to farming Ashley loves reading, cooking, beauty, home DIY and training for 5k races.

You can follow Ashley on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.

What the Well-Dressed AgVocate Wears for Travel

So – I am highly extroverted, can talk to a tree stump, and love, love, love to talk about food and farming. And I travel somewhat frequently for business, and sometimes for pleasure.

Being so overly outgoing, I sometimes… well, I make people very… alert. Especially introverts. So, in order to meet them at a point of comfortable conversation for both of us, I’ve taken to making my opening statement through my wardrobe. They may then decide to engage in conversation, or not.

RaeI travel in T-shirts, unless my schedule is packed so tightly that I have to deplane and hit a meeting. Sometimes I wear one anyway. The AGvocacy community is tightly-knit, so in addition to my Kentucky shirts (So God Made A Kentucky Farmer), I have “Pigs: the Inventors of Bacon” from RealPigFarming, the National Pork Checkoff. I have “Baconista” from the Kansas Soybean Board and Kansas Pork Board partnership. I have “Don’t Fear Your Food” and “Make Food Choices Based on Facts, Not Fear,” from the CommonGround program.

Several of my farmer friends have gifted me with logo shirts, because they know I will wear them proudly. I have some LeCows shirts from my Holstein-loving friends in Paducah, Kentucky, and “Fall on the Farm” shirts from Murray State University. The Hutson School of Ag also provided a shirt with one of Thomas Jefferson’s famous quotes about farming.

The bacon shirts start great conversations about antibiotics, hormones, farrowing crates and gestation stalls – really anything CAFO – while the dairy shirts are great for conversations about lactose intolerance, added hormones and antibiotics in milk, and how we keep milk clean. I’ve had several conversations about cow comfort and educated folks that there are actually such things as “cow butt scratchers.” Oh the places you’ll go, oh the things you’ll learn!

Wearing your topic of choice literally on your body is a great way to start conversations, and I would venture to guess this technique would work just as well for introverts as it does for me.

Nerd trip tip: always travel with business cards and at least a small stash of literature in your carry-on, easily accessible. Mass media and social media are wonderful ways to share our story, but those one-on-one conversations are memorable and hard to beat.

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Rae Wagoner is Director of Communication for the Kentucky Soybean Board and the Kentucky Soybean Association, and has found her career to be what she calls the “RGDJ” (redneck girl’s dream job) on her blog. Rae has always lived the rural lifestyle and jokes that she’s only ever dated one guy who didn’t wear the blue corduroy jacket… and THAT was a mistake! She resides in western Kentucky with her husband, Sutton, and her wiener dog, Savannah Jane., and enjoys reading, cowboy boots, wine and photography… not necessarily in that order.

Make sure to follow Rae on her blog, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.

The Chick Wire: Connecting With Consumers Through a Podcast

Recently, I went through a change. No, it wasn’t a mid-life crisis; I’m not quite there yet! But, I did have to change my name. It wasn’t a divorce or remarriage either. I’m still annoying the same guy I have been for the last 15 years. I had to change my social media handle and website name. For several years I was known as Farm Barbie, now I’m the founder of The Chick Wire.

The Chick WireThe Chick Wire is a network of women that shares values, cultivates understanding, and inspires without judgment. That’s the overall mission statement. Now, how I go about achieving that mission is by interviewing amazing women in any career, hobby, or life story for my podcast. These “chicks” tell me their story as I interview them using values-based messaging, which in turn leads the listeners to understand and hopefully be inspired to some course of action in their own life.

Let’s face it: there’s enough bad news, nasty trolls, and awful weather and commodity prices to make your head explode. That’s why I decided to use my legal struggle and name change to be a literal voice for agriculture and promote some positivity and good in the world while integrating information about ag.

It feels like it’s always us (farmers and ranchers) against them (consumers). My lofty goal is to stop the game of Us vs. Them, and instead create a big ol’ happy campfire we can all sing Kumbaya around. With each chick I interview, I’m reaching a new audience. Her family, friends, and colleagues are tuning in to hear her episode. They decide they like it and maybe listen to a few more, or they subscribe to my podcast on iTunes and listen to the newest episode every week. It’s a slow integration of anyone from any walk of life, but I think and hope it will be the game changer of ag-understanding in this country. As each chick is telling her story, I’m adding in snippets of my own story, my farm, or things I’ve learned from other farmer friends. Listeners hear a little bit every week about farmers and farming, and can slowly begin to trust me as a voice for agriculture, and overall trust the American farmer like they used to.

Podcasting is very underrepresented in agriculture. Many folks don’t even know what a podcast is! I can think of only a handful of podcasts that even have something to do with farmers or farming. It’s a form of media that is quickly developing, and in fact, podcasting is the new it-thing, especially with millennials. Case in point: my husband (39 years old) still listens to our local AM radio station because it’s the only station he can get in many of our tractors. Once I showed him how to use the podcast app on his iPhone, and search and subscribe to podcasts like mine, he began listening to different types of podcasts all the time. I like to fold laundry, sweep floors, cook, and drive the kids to practices and games with a podcast playing in my pocket. I’m learning something while being entertained and getting my work done at the same time, which is much better than just listening to music. I’m a big fan of podcasts!

Now, down to the nuts and bolts of podcasting: it’s actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it! I must admit, I didn’t figure it all out on my own. I hired a small business technology consulting firm to help me get started, and they showed me how to do it all. I use a quality hand-held voice recorder for my in-person interviews, and Skype with a set of headphones for my phone-call interviews. I have Garage Band on my Mac, which I use to create and edit an episode. I manage my website using squarespace, and simply upload the audio file to my blog page, along with pictures and show notes, and it’s automatically connected to iTunes. In fact, iTunes has tons of helpful and handy guides to help you get started. The hardest part is actually conducting the interview with the chick, because I’m not a journalist or a professional interviewer. I’m just a mom on a mission. A big company thought they could silence me, but they didn’t know whom they were dealing with. They might have won the battle over a name, but they didn’t win the war over me. Agriculture is something worth fighting for and this Barbie has a lot more fight in her!

Have you heard of The Chick Wire Show yet? If not, feel free to head on over to iTunes (or wherever you want to listen to podcasts), and simply search “The Chick Wire.” You can listen to one episode at a time, or subscribe and automatically listen to the latest “chick” show every time I release a new episode.

Thanks for tuning in! Toodaloo!

Staying Positive When Times Are Tough on the Farm

As a young girl I always dreamed of owning my own farm/ranch. I grew up on my parent’s hobby farm bucking square bales and riding/driving our Minneapolis Moline tractor. Who knew that my life would turn out the way it has. Marrying an immigrant from England, that also had the same dream of owning and operating a farm. Now, 2 kids later, we are a first generation farm family. But it just didn’t land at our feet. Just kind of like advocating for what we do every day. It started just to keep my husband’s family in the loop of what we were doing. Then it was the pull of the consumer wanting to know how and what we do on the farm. That’s when writing and pictures became more important than ever.

Stressed WomanThen the down markets. With all highs, come lows, and that doesn’t exclude markets or the farm life. Recently I was struggling on how to keep going with advocating. All I wanted to do was focus on our family and the farm. Nothing good was happening, and farming didn’t seem fun anymore. Not when you’re getting paid pennies for all the work and hours spent sowing and reaping the crops we took time on. Why would I want to share our emotional stress? Nobody cares. Would they think that we’re just whining? Would they understand? How do I convey the feeling of the unknowing of how we’re going to make it through?

Farming isn’t always the romantic rosy picture, we know that. Consumers need to know that too. Being a true farmer and a true optimist go hand in hand. It’s having the bravery and tenacity to keep moving forward. Consumers need to see our good, bad, and ugly. Don’t be hesitant to share your story. Share your emotional pull toward the land, and what you do.

Hope is the best medicine for our future. Let’s show them that.

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Jenny BurgessJenny Burgess is a Farmer who farms with her husband and two children in the heart of central Kansas. She grew up on a hobby farm not too far from where she raises her family now. The only child, she learned the true meaning of hard work. From bucking bales, feeding animals, and driving antique tractors, she was a girl who tried to keep up with her dad with the chores. She met her husband, who was from England, and eventually got married. They both had the dream of owning their own farm. Today that dream still lives and is growing, along with two kids. They grow Wheat, Corn, Soybeans, and Milo, all dryland crops.

Follow Jenny on her blog, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.