An Examination of Social Media as a Marketing Tool for Tennessee Small Farmers
The purpose of this study was is to examine the use of social media as a marketing tool for small farmers in Tennessee in order to improve their profitability and competitiveness in the agricultural industry. The study was intended for the purpose of analysing the growth of social media in the marketing of agricultural products, examining the impact of social media on Tennessee small farms sales, and determining factors that influence the use of social media for marketing by Tennessee small farmers. A total of 55 small scale farmers participated in the study, comprising of 40 males (72.7 %), 10 females 18.2 %) while 5 (9.1 %) proffered not to disclose their gender. An online survey generated through Survey Monkey was used to collect and analyse data. This study sought to determine how social media was used in the agricultural setting across Tennessee. From the results, it was evident that there was a significantly larger number of farmers using social media for marketing (61.54%), and there was a direct correlation between the use of social media and the improvement of response towards a farmer’s products. Demographically, the number of participants aged 40-49 was the highest (n=20, 36.4%), followed by those aged 30-39 (n=13, 23.6%). Based on the statistics presented, the use of social media is rampant in Tennessee, similar to other parts of the country. More specifically small farmers use this platform as a way of interacting with others and learning about new technological developments in the agricultural sector. However, there is still a number of farmers 3 who have not embraced the use of social media, owing to the fact that they do not find it beneficial to their practice. There was a statistical difference relating to the popularity of different social media websites, with LinkedIn showing dominance among the farmers mainly due to the fact that it is a professional website where farmers can interact and share insight. A significant number of farmers also used multiple social sites, albeit for different purposes rather than marketing. Social media use was more dominant among the younger demographics, although there was relative use among farmers aged between 40-49 years. A higher percentage of farmers in Tennessee were of Caucasian descent, followed by African-Americans, and only one Latin American farmer participated in this study. However, it was determined that ethnicity had no correlation whatsoever to social media use. Farmers were more inclined to use social media based on their past experiences and their exposure to telecommunication devices. For example, the older farmers were less inclined to using social media as they were not well- conversant with its basic concepts and how to apply it for marketing. However, the younger generations were aware of the power of social media, and the benefits it provided them particularly in relating to marketing their products. Based on the research findings, social media has an important role to play as a marketing tool for small farmers in Tennessee and other parts of the country. It expands the consumer base, allowing farmers to interact with consumers from different parts of the world. Furthermore, it enables farmers to acquire knowledge relating to improvement of their products or different ways of increasing their sales. Therefore, it is vital that small farmers are educated on the use of social media for marketing, as a way of improving their competitiveness against large-scale farmers.
George T Davis,
"An Examination of Social Media as a Marketing Tool for Tennessee Small Farmers"
ETD Collection for Tennessee State University.