Social media - a disruptive opportunity for science and extension in agriculture?
AbstractThe use of social media is increasing and provides an opportunity compared to 'traditional' media. Advances in cloud computing and smartphones have increased the ability to utilise different forms of social interaction. Are farmers and rural businesses realising this opportunity? The engagement of the agricultural community in social media was investigated using an online survey of email recipients of the New Zealand Grassland Association and Beef + Lamb New Zealand to understand their use of computing hardware and social media use. Case studies of recent social media use by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, NZ Agriseeds Ltd and a Deer Industry research uptake project are documented. Responses of 209 survey respondents identified 82% of users with two or more devices, while 100% used email regularly and approximately 95% accessed websites on a daily or weekly basis. Regular Facebook use averaged approximately 50% in the agribusiness and research communities, though this was only 30% in the farming community. Other social media platform use, such as Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin, was lower. Regular mobile apps use was highest in the agribusiness (60%) while this was lower in farming and research communities (30%). The case studies highlighted the development of new social networks using Facebook and Twitter as the underlying opportunity for future engagement in agriculture, while websites, mobile apps and YouTube have the capacity to house resources for interrogative learning and support. Resources need to be allocated to ensure the power of these platforms can be harnessed for commerce and practice change. Keywords: social media, survey, agriculture, interrogative learning, extension, adoption, social networks