Advocating through social media

On a fifth generation family farm in central Kansas, with 1,000 acres of crop land and a 1,400 capacity feedlot, Greg Peterson at 22, and his two younger brothers Nathan and Kendal, have become a Facebook and YouTube favorite. They have attracted over 71,000 Facebook fans who regularly click onto their website to view the latest parody video which was recorded on Greg’s Samsung Galaxy 3 phone. 

After graduating from Kansas State University with a major in Agricultural Communications and Journalism and a minor in Music, Greg only now considers himself a farmer.

“Growing up, it was more like dad was the farmer and we were the employees,” says Peterson.

“Now that I’m working full time on the farm, I feel like I can be more of a farmer myself.”

With a tool box full of new communicative ideas, Peterson and his brothers, all musicians and singers, decided to use social media to promote and advocate for the farming community.

“Farming is in my blood and I couldn’t wait to do it full time, but I also wanted to write songs and music, perform and use the communication tools I’d learned in some way. My brothers and I are very serious about our family business, but we also love to inject some fun into it,” says Peterson.

“We have created five parody musical videos using our phones and the small recording studio setup in my room. I wouldn’t say they were professional quality yet, but we use them to tell people about how things work on the farm.”

“We don’t just walk around with pitchforks and we aren’t the image of the two people in the old photo holding a pitchfork with stern faces. This generation is enthusiastic and excited about farming and we portray that in every posting whether it’s a video for our Facebook and YouTube, daily blogs, Instagram or on twitter.”

The brothers are faithful about keeping their followers abreast of their farming activities and tweet funny incidents, along with frustrating and informative information about the real work related to their business.

“Part of our message is to make farming look appealing again. Some people tend to look down on farming. You can be connected to the land, work alongside your family, drive big equipment and enjoy what you’re doing,” says Peterson.

Brother Kendal is in his senior year in high school and Nathan, is a sophomore at Kansas State majoring in Agriculture Technology Management. In between school and farm chores, the brothers have been bombarded with offers to attend seminars, meetings and conferences to talk about their social media advocating. In fact, Greg will be speaking at the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan (FACS) December Annual General Meeting and Conference in Saskatoon.

The boys also have an online store where you can order t-shirts and bumper stickers with different farm-related messaging.

“We’ve been making some income off our speaking engagements and appearances and such,” admits Peterson. “When we released our first video, it went viral and people began telling us that we could use them as an income source. But since we put different words to songs that are already out there, you can’t sell any songs without the permission of the original recording artist.”

“One thing I’ve learned is how far technology has come in the last five years. You can reach thousands plus people instantly and cheaply. Anyone with ambition and creativity can put a positive spin on agriculture.”

The five music videos posted on the facebook.com/petersonfarmbros home page includes: Farmer Style, A Fresh Breath of Farm Air, From the Land of Kansas, I’m Farming and I Grow it and Bale. The September video is a non-music video and shows their followers how to get equipment ready for harvesting their corn and sorghum – through the various stages of harvest. It explains how each piece of equipment is used and shows the Peterson boys harvesting the crops and creating a silage pile to feed the cattle. At the end of the harvest, it shows the boys playing football on the corn silage to celebrate.

Peterson has a head full of ideas about developing a future business in which he can advocate for farming. He hopes, to someday find a leadership position within the industry in which he can marry communication expertise and his farming knowledge. In the off season, he plans to put some structure to them.

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