One of the best movies of the year is “The Social Network.” The film tells the story of the founder of the social-networking Website Facebook. But “The Social Network” is less of a biography of Mark Zuckerberg than it is a gloss on the log-on, plug-in generation.
The real take-home message from the movie is this: You can’t underestimate the power of social networking. At the CropLife Media Group (CLMG), we certainly haven’t. CLMG currently boasts more than 1,000 “Fans” on our magazine’s Facebook pages, including CropLife®, Farm Chemicals International and PrecisionAg. We also have almost 600 followers on Twitter between @croplifemag and @precisionagnow. Thanks for being our friend.
Another CLMG social networking site that has picked up quite the following is the PrecisionAg Network (PAN). With more than 300 members, the PAN offers many of the same features as Facebook and Twitter. But unlike these sites, which accept any and all Internet users, our online community is targeted toward a very narrow, specific topic: precision agriculture. A PAN membership enables you to take advantage of expertise, advice and learning opportunities with hundreds of fellow precision ag practitioners.
So if precision agriculture is something you are extremely involved with, or just mildly interested in, I suggest giving the PrecisionAg Network a look. To nudge you — and your browser — toward PrecisionAgNetwork.com, I offer five reasons you should join:
- Signing up is a snap. Creating a new account on the PAN is as easy as 1-2-3. Enter your e-mail and password, create a profile and click the “Join” button. At this point, you’re officially a new member of the network. And signing up is not only simple, it’s free. Having access 24/7 to a community of like-minded professionals — at no cost to you — can be invaluable to your business (see also No. 5). But if you’re not quite ready to make the leap to join, you can still observe. Membership is not required to view the latest postings, comments, and interactions between members. You just won’t be able to join in on the fun.
- Specialty areas of interest. You can join one of several subgroups within the PAN, including Consultants, Growers, Extension, Research, and Training. These ultra-focused groups can help you quickly connect with others in your same discipline. Perhaps you’re a novice to precision agriculture; join the “Training” group to gain access to resources and people who may help you get started with the technology. Can’t find a group that fits your area of interest? Feel free to introduce a new group that others may join.
- Don’t get lost in the masses. Many social networks have increased in popularity so rapidly that they have led to an incredibly large number of members. In fact, some might say too many members. A specialty online community like the PAN allows members to share their thoughts — and actually have them read and responded to — with a group of individuals who have the same beliefs, views, and interests as they do. This means you don’t have to spend hours researching a person or speaking to them, just to learn what they are — or are not — interested in.
- Plenty of tools to use. Many PAN members are finding value using the tools the site offers. Some are keeping blogs by posting questions and/or solutions to particular issues within precision agriculture. Others are uploading images and videos to provide an audio/visual representation of the messages they are sharing with fellow members. Want to tell members about an upcoming conference on precision agriculture? Simply add the event to the site’s calendar for everyone to see.
- It can help your business. The tagline for “The Social Network” reads: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” While our goal is that the PAN will never become a battleground for companies to hock their products, it does offer a common ground for getting to know business contacts on a personal level, as well as a professional one. Part of any effective business strategy is to form and maintain great relationships with people you can help, and people that can help you. For ag retailers who offer precision agriculture services, the PAN may be yet another option for accomplishing this strategy. Now is the time to give it a try.