Be my friend. Follow my blog. Check out my status update. Did you see what I tweeted last night? Wait…what?

Social media is blowing up in our faces and is becoming a part of daily life for many people – farmers included.

“I try to put in an hour or so a day using social media,” says Matt Widboom, who farms with his father near Windom, MN, and is a member of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. “It depends on the day and if there’s a hot issue to be spreading the word on.”

Widboom grows 1,200 acres of corn and soybeans and also finishes 1,000 head of cattle. He started using social media to connect with friends on Facebook, and now sees it as an opportunity to share the positive story of agriculture.

“As an ag community we’ve known for a long time we need to be able to talk about our industry in a positive way,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve ever been under attack directly and indirectly as much as we are now. We need to take advantage and counter-punch, and we can very quickly get out of the negative light anti-ag groups put us in.”

Putting that message out there can come in several formats. You can post a status update on Facebook to share with your virtual friends. You can tweet a short message (no more than 140 characters) on Twitter, and use hash tags (#) to help people who may be searching that topic. You can post a video to YouTube, the second most-used search engine behind Google. This may all sound a bit daunting, but it’s pretty simple (see sidebar).

Tricia Braid Terry, communications director for Illinois Corn Growers and Corn Marketing Board and also part of a family farm outside of Funks Grove, IL, uses “social media as a barometer to find out what ag’s hot button issues are, to get a feel for what’s being said and what people’s questions and opinions are.”

Terry also uses Twitter to get her ag messages out to her over 4,000 followers on the social media site. Others use video.