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4 Steps to Showcase Your Farm Via Instagram
After visiting a farm show this summer, three agronomists from Argentina made a pit stop at Phil Pitzenberger’s farm in Greene, Iowa. The trio had never meet Pitzenberger, but they knew his farm well because they followed him on Instagram.
“They toured farm fields and looked at equipment,” says Pitzenberger. “They knew just enough English, and we used Google translate when we got in a bind.”
Instagram has helped him make lots of connections like this, he adds, including other farmers from abroad as well as those across the U.S. “Instagram has made the world smaller,” he says.
Ethan Clarke, Washington, Indiana, has had similar experience. The 20-year old farmer, who planted his first crop this year, has built a network with other young farmers that started on Instagram.
“We followed each other on Instagram and would send messages back and forth. Eventually, we had a group message on Instagram, then Snapchat,” he says. “Now, we talk every day. We’ve also started to visit each other.”
These eight young farmers are college age or younger. Half are first-generation farmers, like Clarke, and half come from farm families.
“We grow a lot of the same crops, but we are in different states,” he says.
In addition to this interest from farmers, Pitzenberger has found that Instagram is a good way to update landlords. “We have a lot of absentee landlords, and this gives them a place where they can see what’s going on,” he explains.
While both Pitzenberger and Clarke admit the majority of their Instagram following (a combined total of 9,000) has a connection to ag, they also connect with some consumers.
“I’ve reached some people on a level that shows what we’re doing out here. We are a family, but we’re also a large operation. We enjoy what we do and are doing the best we can to be stewards,” says Pitzenberger.
tips and tricks
Here are four simple steps you can take to showcase your farm to the world via Instagram.
1 Stay active without blowing up people’s feeds. “I like taking pictures, so I post my favorite one from the week,” says Clarke. “Try not to overdo it, but try and stay halfway active.”
2 Use the gear you have. Both Pitzenberger and Clarke use their smart phones to take photos and to do minimal editing, if any, in the Instagram app.
From time to time, Pitzenberger also posts photos taken from his drone. He just upgraded to a DJI Inspire 2, which has a professional-grade camera, but he also uses his older DJIs, a Phantom 2 and 3.
3 Always respond. That’s Pitzenberger’s rule for any messages and comments he receives.
4 Show the good and bad, but leave out the ugly.
The good: One of Pitzenberger’s most photographed scenes is his parent’s beautiful red barn. He also showcases conservation practices, like no-till.
The bad: “I like to show that bad things happen,” he says, like this summer when he posted a photo of hail that leveled 4-inch-tall corn.
The ugly: “People within ag may know what you are doing, but nonag people can take things the wrong way,” says Clarke. Think twice before posting and carefully consider your captions.
“One of the biggest issues is that people don’t know where food comes from,” says Clarke. “Instagram is one tool we can use because there is such a broad audience there.”