Good for farmers to tweet

Former Kellogg Rural Leaders Programme scholar Sara Russell-Muti has worked to establish the AgChatNZ Foundation to promote farmer education and connectivity through Twitter. Supplied photo
Former Kellogg Rural Leaders Programme scholar Sara Russell-Muti has worked to establish the AgChatNZ Foundation to promote farmer education and connectivity through Twitter. Supplied photo
Farmers will have another platform to communicate and connect when the new AgChatNZ Foundation launches its weekly Twitter discussion forums on March 12.

The foundation was established by Sara Russell-Muti, of Hamilton and formerly of Methven, who looked at farmers' use of social media as her New Zealand Kellogg Rural Leaders Programme project last year.

''I wanted to investigate if farmers tweeted and how they used it,'' Mrs Russell-Muti said.

She surveyed farmers and rural professionals about their use of social media, including Twitter, and found that while in some areas there was a lack of connectivity, there was considerable uptake among farmers and rural professionals who were using social media as a business, branding and marketing tool.

Others were reluctant to use it. She said tweeting farmers increased their interaction with other people, used it as an educational tool and to source news as well as information such as ''how much do we pay for silage in the area?''.

As a result of her project she and others, including Nuffield scholar Sophie Stanley, have formed the AgChatNZ Foundation, which is designed to encourage the use of Twitter and other social media.

She envisaged each AgChatNZ session would focus on a particular topic, eg NAIT, and tweeters would be able to ask questions about it and have them answered by experts and other farmers, she said.

''We will have our first Twitter discussions on March 12, at 8pm,'' she said.

''The inaugural online discussion will be `Brand New Zealand'.

''These one-hour online discussions will be held every week at 8pm on Wednesdays.

''To participate set up your Twitter profile at twitter.com, follow @agchatnz1 and, on the night, follow the hashtag #AgChatNZ.

''Over the hour the mediators will post a series of questions using the hashtag #AgChatNZ.

''To respond, tweet the question number e.g. Q1 and your answer with the hashtag #AgChatNZ,'' she said.

AgChatNZ could also be linked into similar groups in America, the UK and Australia.

For more information contact Sara on 022-183-1426.

- by Yvonne O'Hara