AG AWARENESS: ENGAGING LOCAL CLIENTELE THROUGH INSTAGRAM
E. Fletcher, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Johns County, St. Augustine, FL and Tim Wilson, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Johns County, St. Augustine, FL.
Situation: Once upon a time, St. Johns County, Florida was equally as rural as several of its neighboring counties. Now with urban sprawl, our population has doubled in the past 20 years with over 243,000 people and growing, according to the 2017 United States Census. This change has created a lack of education in the local population with regards to the agriculture being produced literally down the road. The St. Johns County Agricultural Agents created a social media account through Instagram in May of 2019. The objective was to increase the awareness of local agriculture to local residents, while also enlightening our clientele of the daily activities of the extension agents.
Methods: The agricultural extension agents post on average twice-weekly videos or images to Instagram, while maintaining daily “Story” images of the agents’ activities. Posts are meant to be fun and engaging, while also educational, such as recent diseases identified and pasture management. Tags such as “UFIFAS” and “Agriculture” are often used to gain more reach.
Results: As of March 2020, we have 190 followers and 103 posts. Our followers are predominantly (85%+) local residents, including farmers and their family members, and local restaurant and small business owners. We have received positive feedback from our Farmer’s Market Manager, local college students and our Putnam-St. Johns Farm Bureau Board.
Conclusion: Instagram is an easy and convenient method for distributing science-based information and engaging with your local clientele.