Large-Acreage Growers Actively Using New Media

Sixty-two percent of large-acreage U.S. corn and soybean growers have sent or received text messages during the past year, according to the newly released Agriculture New Media Usage Study (corn and soybean segment focus), conducted by Nicholson Kovac, Inc., an integrated marketing communications company.

The Agriculture New Media Usage study is the first of its kind in the agribusiness industry. It provides comprehensive insight on the use of social media and new media among large acreage corn and soybean growers – including Internet usage, social networking, and mobile phone activities — for business and social purposes.

“We know that crop producers, especially larger operators, are fairly tech savvy, but nothing exists that we are aware of that validates and confirms their use of new media and social media tools,” says Sheree Johnson, senior vice president, director of media services, Nicholson Kovac. “This new media research provides a number of eye-opening statistics on how corn and soybean growers use their phones and computers, and how they are engaged in social networking.”

In addition to the percentage of growers sending or receiving text messages, the study reveals the high degree of frequency of texting, as well as other mobile phone activities such as taking photos, e-mailing, downloading ring tones, accessing GPS, and more. Forty-eight percent of those texting send five or more texts per day, and 63 percent of respondents indicated they have taken pictures with their mobile phones.

The 35-page study also explores in detail the Internet usage of these growers, including how they are accessing their Internet and for what topics they search:

  • Forty-seven percent spend five or more hours per week online, and 23 percent spend 10 or more hours online
  • Besides utilizing e-mail, accessing weather and market reports are the highest ranked in terms of Internet use for their business/farm
  • In addition, 85 percent of respondents indicated that they visit Web sites related to their farm operation, and 76 percent check manufacturers’ Web sites.
  • The study also explored the presence of crop producers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. It also details growers’ usage of blogs, forums, and/or message boards. Search engine usage and preference were also explored.

“While there appears to be some confusion and lack of familiarity about social networking, blogging, etc., when social networking brands (ie., such as Facebook or Twitter) were mentioned, many respondents confirmed they are actively using these sites,” says Johnson. “The early adopters and growers who are influencers in their communities are already engaged in exploring new media platforms.”

Findings were based on 250 completed personal phone interviews conducted in May. Respondents farm an average of 1,500 corn and/or soybean acres, and they were pre-screened to have a mobile phone and/or a computer with Internet access. While Nicholson Kovac developed the study on behalf of their agriculture clients, detailed study findings, including demographics of participants and other highlights, are now available and can be purchased for $750 by visiting Nicholson Kovac’s Web site at www.agnewmediastudy.com.

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