August 1 2014 Latest news:
Shaun Lowthorpe, Business editor
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Norfolk farmer Kit Papworth has played a key role in research looking at the growing phenonema of farmers using social media.
The rise in iPads and iPhones has seen farmers increasingly coming together and forging community links via Twitter.
Mr Papworth (@farmerkit), who is also chairman of Anglia Farmers and currently a Nuffield Scholar, said he started tweeting as a way of talking to like-minded farmers both in this country and across the world.
He has since been interviewed about his use of social media as part of a Social Media Council research project.
He said: “There was a very small group of us who started tweeting a few years ago. It’s a way of communicating with farmers across the globe. If you think about it, there are some pretty long hours worked by farmers and farm staff, and if you are sitting on a tractor for hours at at time you can tweet or send pictures via Flickr.
“For me it’s a source of information, but it’s also something the farming community has taken to its heart.”
Lynsey Sweales, CEO of social media and online marketing agency SocialB carried out the Social Media Council research.
“The reason that the agricultural sector really got hold of social media is that farmers and those working in the agricultural sector work long hours and are often very isolated. But with iPhones and iPads as long as they have a good internet connection, social media has opened up a whole range of advantages.
“Twitter is the most widely used because it is so immediate,” she added. “Farmers who use to traditionally talk over the hedge are now doing that over Twitter.”
She said powerful examples of how social media is being used were Forage Aid, set up by Lincolnshire grower Andrew Ward, which has helped rally to support flood hit farmers in Somerset, while each Thursday night between 8.30pm and 10pm Twitter is host to #agrichatuk a volunteer-run forum where farmers discuss and debate a range of issues. Farmers also get the chance to talk about their work and lives via #farmersoftheuk.
She added: “A lot of it is really community-based stuff of farmers helping each other, but more importantly supermarkets are also listening and so are customers. During the horsemeat scandal last year, social media was really influential.”
A father and son who joined forces to set up their own business are hoping to push the boundaries as their company goes from strength to strength.