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From farm to table: Farmers turn to social media to share their daily lives

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Stop and think about how many minutes a day you spend scrolling through social media. How quickly have you seen a video or a post become viral? That’s the power of social media, and more farmers worldwide are beginning to embrace social media as a way to tell their stories and educate consumers about the process their food takes from farm to table.

Meet Carson, the 6th Gen Farmer

With the farming YouTube community growing, South Dakota State University student Carson began his own channel to not only document his life for himself, but also be able to engage with consumers and producers from around the world.

What started off as a way to document his life to show his future children, turned into a viral YouTube channel, 6th Gen Farmer, with over 9,400 followers worldwide. Only around 60% of his audience is United States based and Carson enjoys getting comments from places like Norway and Sweden telling him about how they run their operations.

Carson was born on a family farm in southern Minnesota, gaining more responsibility on the farm as he grew up. In high school, he was involved in extracurricular activities that gave him less time to be actively involved in the family operation. But once he transitioned to college, he had more time to spend on the farm and gained more experience, especially during the pandemic, doing his homework in the planter. He is currently a student at SDSU studying Ag Systems Technology.

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YouTube is a way for Carson to use both his passions, agriculture and technology, by documenting his daily life. After getting and drone and shooting footage throughout the farm, his dad suggested that he begin to make videos and post them to document what farming is like today to show his future children.

“It all kind of took off when my harvest 2018 video, I think it is just short of 140,000 views now, and that got me my first 1,000 subscribers and I was like ‘wow, I really have something here that I can utilize, I think if I take a different path, I’ll be able to help educate people and provide myself with some more information to help me learn too,’” Carson said.

So that is what made him decide to start vlogging, which he began in the spring of 2020. He said it was hard at first and it took him a while to get used to talking to the camera. But as he and his family began to get used to the camera, the videos were a lot better quality and he continued to learn. The video that helped his vlogs take-off was called “Poor Mans Hagie Sprayer“, where almost everything that could have gone wrong did, and his audience loved it, Carson said.

“What I found is that people like, the more damage the more calamities that happen in a video, the more people like it. And unfortunately and fortunately for me, that seems to happen quite a bit on our farm,” Carson said.

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Carson said there were three main factors that went into building his audience on social media.

“That was being a genuine person because people can really tell when you’re not being yourself. People can see a fake person from a mile away,” Carson said. “Two was being transparent with everything I do. I want my audience to know that if I didn’t have a camera on me I wouldn’t be doing anything different than what I am showing them. And third is you’ve got to be entertaining because nobody wants to watch something that they know they are going to fall asleep to.”

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He also utilizes Instagram and Facebook to help educate consumers about life on the farm. Currently, Carson has 1,307 followers on his Instagram and 213 likes on Facebook. He is also considering branching out to social media platforms such as Twitter and TikTok.

“There is a lot of stuff that happens during the day in farming that doesn’t get on the YouTube videos,” Carson said. “I use platforms like Instagram and Facebook to kind of show a behind-the-scenes of everything that I do on YouTube.”

Carson does use a content schedule. When he is at school, he posts every Wednesday about what he did the past weekend at the farm. When he is on breaks from school, he will post a video every Sunday talking about what he did that week.

He has had very little negative feedback from viewers, Carson said. The negative comments that he has received have mostly been about the way he is doing things on his on his operation, but he thinks this is mostly because farming is so different in different areas. As he continues to grow, he anticipates that he will receive more negative feedback.

Carson said it is important to educate consumers about what goes on at the farm because many of them are not actively involved in farming or do not have much experience with agriculture. There is also a lot of mislabeling and false claims, so it is important for farmers to be transparent with what they are doing.

“Frankly, it’s not the consumer’s fault that they are not educated, because up until a few years ago, farmers didn’t really have a platform to be transparent, to educate and to entertain at the same time and that’s what’s so powerful about platforms, such as social media, like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, even TikTok and Twitter, is that it gives farmers the opportunity to be transparent, show what they are doing everyday to the consumer and also be entertaining at the same time.”

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Carson’s favorite part of doing YouTube the education, not only for his viewers but for himself as well. He said the comment section is powerful, and he enjoys being able to engage with his audience and answer any additional questions they may have. Carson said it is also pretty cool to be recognized in public and getting to interact and meet his followers.

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He said it has really changed farming for him, because now he not only goes to the farm and work, but he is able to educate and show people what he is doing.

“It really brings a lot of joy into farming, that I didn’t have before,” Carson said.

Meet the Stensaas Family

For Maggie Stensass, owner of New Frontier Farms in Lonsdale, Minnesota, social media has become a way for her family to share their journey from buying a farm to now producing products for consumers.

Stensaas has a strong background in agriculture. Growing up on her family’s hobby farm, she raised a wide variety of livestock to show in 4-H. When she turned 12 she began working on dairy farms and began milking cows at 14, which grew her passion for the dairy industry, leading her to South Dakota State University, where she majored in Dairy Production and Speech Communication with a minor in Animal Science. After college, she went on to work for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture before moving to Minnesota where she worked for the University of Minnesota. Now she is working full-time on her farm with her husband, where they have a direct-to-consumer operation. They raise chickens, turkeys, pigs, steers, dairy heifers and dairy goats.

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Since starting their farm journey in August 2019, they began using social media to promote their farm. They use primarily use Instagram, along with Facebook and TikTok to connect with their consumers.

“We started getting our first eggs in September of last year and our first chickens were last summer but we were all sold out,” Stensaas said. “So we tried to start in winter farmer’s markets but with COVID those were all cancelled. We are hoping, starting in May to October, we are going to be in farmer’s markets in both our small town and also a little bit closer to the twin cities.”

Stensaas began to use and learn the importance of social media in the agricultural industry when she was a dairy princess ten years ago. She participated in a lot of training about the importance of telling their story in agriculture because very few people grow up on a farm.

“In South Dakota, you may grow up in a town and know a lot of farmers, but you might not know the nitty gritty of it,” Stensaas said. “We are learning so much about how we can we tell people what we are doing, open our barn doors to show people where their food is coming from.”

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They started their direct-to-consumer operation to fill that gap, Stensaas said. Social media is a great way for them to connect with people who are looking to connect with producers.

Since starting their social media pages, the Stensaas’ have reached 1,058 followers on Instagram, 429 Facebook likes and 42 followers with 924 likes on their TikTok page.

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They try to post seven days a week, Stensaas said. Now that reels are becoming more popular they have begun to utilize those and try to create either a post or a reel everyday, keeping it authentic by showing what is happening that day on the farm. They also try to do around five to ten stories a day, depending on the day.

“The reels have been fun for us because we have been able to show kind of the behind-the-scenes view,” Stensaas said. “You know this weekend we did a lot of random stuff, and so I just videoed all the random stuff and put it in a video. So that has been fun, and I think it has been fun for our customers to kind of see things rather than just hear about them in a photo or in a post.”

Starting off, their following was a lot of friends and family, Stensaas said. They began by sharing it on their personal pages as well as posting to the Lonsdale Happenings page on Facebook to reach to their community. For Instagram, they really focus on engaging with those who may have an interest in their page.

Some of their followers have been with them since the beginning and are enjoying being a part of the story and now being able to purchase the products that the Stensaas’ produce.

“I love when people are like ‘oh my kid loves watching your son on social media’,” Stensaas said. “We have a almost three year old and then a five month old and I hear all the time from people like ‘oh my son wants to do this on a farm because he watches your son.’ It’s just fun to see people be able to connect with somebody and kind of see themselves on the farm and want to come out to visit. I am excited and hoping once COVID slows down we might be able to do farm tours, which is my real passion. I want people out on our farm, I want them to see how things are going.”

They have only received a few negative comments on their social media, Stensaas said. Luckily these comments have not been direct hits at their family.

As producers, they are very fortunate to know where their food comes from, Stensaas said. She understands the importance that farmers play in educating consumers, rather than leaving them up to googling for answers.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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