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.


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.

Custom Facebook Cover Photos

Facebook is a great place to share your farm or ranch. Having a Facebook cover photo is more important than you might think. It gives visitors a glimpse into your farm/ranch. You can of course select one of your favorite photos or you can create a personalized cover photo.

There are two great options in creating custom cover photos, PicMokey.com and Canva.com. My personal favorite is Canva. So head on over to Canva for a quick walk through on how to create a custom Facebook cover for your page.

Canva Screen shot

Above you find the main screen for Canva.

You can create most anything you want using Canva. So click on “Facebook Cover“.

Canva Screen Shot

Now you are on the main page to create a “Facebook Cover”.

The thing I love about Canva is that it shows you where your “Profile Picture” will be. This helps if you want to include words or information about your farm/ranch or blog on your cover photo. To the left you will see options to pick premade layouts, add elements (shapes, lines, etc.), add text, select a premade background or upload one of you farm photos to use as the background image.

You can select a premade layout and simply add in photos of your farm or ranch as seen below.AgChat Cover2You can also choose to use one of your farm photos as the background.

AgChat FB CoverPersonalize it with words, your farm/ranch logo and/or your blog URL.

Note: To upload your farm/ranch logo just select upload. It is the same option you use to upload your photos.

Spend a little time playing around with the many features Canva has to offer to see what type of cover photo works best for you. You can switch them up with the different seasons or if something new is happening on your farm/ranch.

AgVocate on Instagram

Using Instagram to AgVocate for your farm or ranch is easier than you might think. Before you begin posting photos of your farm or ranch there are a few things to consider:

  1. Make sure your profile is set to public.
  2. Update your “Bio” in your profile settings to let everyone know a little about you & what your interests are.
  3. If you have a blog, include your blog URL in “Website” section of your profile to direct people to your blog.
  4. Select a profile picture. If you have multiple social media platforms (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) use the same photo across all platforms. Consistency across your platforms in theme, color, profile photos, etc. is important.

Link your Instagram to other social media platforms like Facebook & Twitter.

  1. Twitter: It’s always best to directly upload photos to Twitter, but linking your Instagram will gain exposure to your Instagram account.
  2. Facebook:
    1. Personal Facebook Page- Linking to your personal account is a great option if you do not have a public page to share your farm/ranch.
    2. Public Farm Page- You can link your Instagram to you public farm/ranch page to agvocate on multiple platforms and to save time in sharing your story.

Now let’s post some photos!

  1. AgChat Passion is contagiousTake every day photos of your farm/ranch. Make sure the photos are high quality.
  2. Include your name, blog URL, or Instagram handle (i.e. @AgChatFoundation) or logo (as seen in graphic in the right) on your photos. This helps if others decide to share your photo, it will direct people back to you.
  3. Write a description as to what is happening in the photo that non-farmers would understand.
  4. Tag anyone in the photo that might be on Instagram (i.e. your family, friends, cooperative, a brand of tractor, etc.)
  5. Don’t be afraid to use hashtags! Post anywhere from 5 to 10 hashtags in the comments after you post your photo. Use farm related hashtags (#AgChat, #Farm365, #FarmLife), but also include non-farm related hashtags. Some examples would be #LifeStyle, #PhotoOfTheDay, #(Insert Your State Here), etc.
  6. Post your photo!

Make sure to follow the AgChat Foundation on Instagram & don’t forget to use the #AgChat hashtag!

Passion is contagious & builds goodwill. #AgChat

A photo posted by AgChat Foundation (@agchatfoundation) on


There’s a time and a place for everything – insight on the #AgChat & #AgVocate hash tag

There’s a time and a place for everything – insight on the #AgChat & #AgVocate hash tag

Beef Cattle“There’s a time and a place for everything,” was a comment my mother often made. This statement has magically become one of my popular pieces of advice for my three boys. A perfect example is the time my youngest son and I were waiting in line to checkout at the grocery store. To make the time go faster, the woman in front of us struck up a conversation with my son. They began talking about his lambs. She asked him to share their names and what he will do with his pets. He quickly corrected her and explained, “that we will be probably be eating the lambs,” and went into much more detail. The woman’s tongue became temporarily frozen as she finished the transaction and quickly left without an opportunity for my explanation. Based on the woman’s reaction, I feared we would be met by the Department of Child Welfare once we arrived home.

He was truthful, frank and did accurately describe our intentions for the lambs. He shared the information with pride because of the time and care he has taken to ensure the lambs were treated humanely and to the best of our ability. If we had been sitting with family around the television on Sunday afternoon, the conversation would have been completely normal. The right place and the right time.

The grocery store check-out line was neither the right time nor place to be discussing his ‘pets.’

What determines the right time or place?

Generally speaking, the audience. The woman sharing the grocery line was not the right audience to be sharing as detailed information at that point in time.

The same can be said for the use of the term agvocate. People who are outside of the agriculture industry have been known to comment that the word includes a typo. It’s not a familiar term to them and carries very little value. Social media profiles used across multiple platforms are required to fit into a small set of characters. When working with limited characters, every word counts and must include words which clearly connect with your intended audience.

I’m proud to be an agvocate

In my years at the AgChat Foundation, I’ve met many farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists who are proud agvocates – and rightfully so. Whether you are first generation ranchers or seventh, there is pride in what you do. It’s an inherited gift we all share and should continue to celebrate, among the right audience.

My intended audience includes a targeted group of people, generations removed from the farm who share common interests such as the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, home renovation, hunting/fishing and parents of all boys. It’s a crowd which has no connection to the term AgVocate, so I choose to avoid using the word with my communication to this audience. It is simply not the right place.

It is also not useful to include the #AgChat hash tag when I’m trying to reach beyond the choir. Moms of boys and St. Louis Cardinal fans are not searching for AgChat, most will use hash tags such as #boymom, #momofallboys, #StlCards, #GoCards, etc…

If your intended audience is other farmers and ranchers telling their stories, then the use of the #AgChat and #AgVocate hash tags will likely draw the attention of those individuals.

How do I determine which hash tags to use to reach my intended audience?

This is fully dependent upon your target audience. Visit our blog post, “Non-Ag Hash Tags You Should Watch,” for suggestions and ideas of useful non-agriculture hash tags.

My mother also told me, “choose your words wisely,” and I’m often reminded that not only is there a time and place for everything, we need to pause and think of what we say, or type, before we speak or push the enter key.

After all, we want to engage with our audiences and inform them where we can; not leave them more confused that when we started the conversation.

written by Jenny Schweigert


What Story Will You Tell? Guest FFA Week Post

As Indiana FFA State Officers, my team and I have gone through many trainings. We learn about facilitating conferences, working with sponsors, and working together as a team. However, you might Indiana State FFA Officers 2015-2016be surprised to know the most valuable training we have experienced this year was training on how to tell stories. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.

For thousands of years, humans have been passing stories on to one another—stories of wisdom and failure, of heroes and villains. Why are stories so effective? Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have found that stories stimulate different parts of the brain at the same time. When a story is being told our brains track each aspect of that story. We literally immerse ourselves in the world created by the storyteller by creating the setting, characters, and sensations in our own minds.

I find this information very interesting, especially for people involved in the agriculture industry. Oftentimes, the agriculture industry is on the defensive. We have to defend our practices, motives, and ethics constantly. The main thing we like to share in this defense is factual information—statistics, studies, and surveys. We hurl fact after fact at the American consumer; hoping, eventually, they will catch the information and absorb it. In the mean-time, the opposition goes straight for the emotional jugular, sharing erroneous stories of abuse in slaughterhouses and poisonous chemicals being leaked into our water supply.

I don’t believe this battle can be fought with facts alone. Agriculturalists must utilize the power of the story. Our stories show our values. Our stories show we are human. Oftentimes, we are told to take the conversation as far away from the emotional side as possible. Why can’t we mix the emotional with the factual? If they hear your story first, people will be more likely to accept your facts. In this Age of Information, anyone can access the facts in seconds. The sheer amount of data available is astounding, but it’s also incredibly overwhelming.

In this sea of information, the only thing floating is stories. So get out there, and share your story. It’s easier than ever. We have so many mediums to communicate through—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat. Type out your story and post it. Don’t have any of those things? Talking is great too. Talk to people everywhere you go—the grocery store, the mall, at work, at family reunions. You may think your story alone won’t make a difference, but it will.

We all love a good story. It’s in our DNA. We have an innate need to share our experiences with others. This is what makes us human. It’s not something we should run away from, but embrace. During National FFA Week and for the rest of our lives, my teammates and I will be telling the story of agriculture and FFA. What story will you tell?

submitted by Annalee Witte, Indiana State FFA Secretary

Indiana State FFA Secretary Annalee WitteAnnalee Witte, 18, is thrilled to spend the year serving the 11,000 members of Indiana FFA as the State Secretary. Annalee grew up in the small town of Wilkinson, Indiana with her big family of six. She is a graduate of Eastern Hancock High School. Growing up raising sheep, cattle, and hogs, Annalee was an active member in 4-H and completed 10 years. But her true passion has always been FFA. Annalee was a four-year member of the Eastern Hancock FFA Chapter. This year she was named the National Champion in Extemporaneous Public Speaking at the National FFA Convention.  After her year of service to Indiana FFA, Annalee plans on attending Purdue University to double major in Agriculture Communications and Agriculture Marketing and Sales. Annalee hopes to continue to tell the story of agriculture wherever life takes her.