Commentary: Agriculture’s ROI on social mediaI often wonder why farmers and ranchers are slow to adopt social media. Agriculture is making progress in this revolutionary way of communication. But we still have a long way to go.

I consider farmers and ranchers may be intimidated by computers. But that doesn’t make sense because agriculture is always quick to adopt technology. Then I think they are buffaloed by the complexity of social media. But that’s not the answer, because it is fairly simple.

The real reason dawned on me as I was talking to a couple of my Farm Bureau compadres. Both told me that farmers and ranchers don’t use social media because they can’t see a return on investment (ROI).

ROI. A farmer’s not going to invest in anything if he can’t make money. Social media is not like applying fertilizer to a hay field, one told me, and seeing an immediate green-up that means dollars in the bank.

Or is it?

Social media to me is like stocks and bonds. Invest a little bit here and there and your worth will grow. Likewise, invest a little time and effort in social media, and agriculture’s influence will grow.

Consumers have serious discussions about food every day. They are concerned with food safety, want to know how it is grown and who is growing it. Others—including activists with an axe to grind and some who would love to take modern agriculture back to the dark ages—are providing the answers. Farmers and ranchers are largely missing from these social media discussions. That is a huge shame, because poll after poll shows they are far more believable than anyone else when it comes to agriculture.

So look at it this way.

You won’t see an immediate ROI on social media. Consider it a long-term investment in agriculture.

Commit a little time and effort each day. And it will pay big dividends in the future for you, your children and your grandchildren.