Who Do UK Farmers Follow?

Bear Grylls received 130,000 applications from people wanting a place on a recent castaways TV series. The team had their work cut out to hone that number down to a final 12.

Imagine for a moment making your own island-sharing selection: 100 people from absolutely anyone in a world of seven billion and rising.

There’s various friends and family of course. But then do you go for people with skills? A celebrity chef or a clever inventor ... or a dentist? Or is fun more important? Your favourite standup comedian who always makes you laugh or your favourite musician?

Imaginary as the above is, it parallels a completely real process that is happening as we all choose who we follow – and conversely of course, avoid following – on social media.

New in the history of human development, the study of this process will be a cornerstone of the developing science of social media.

One observation is that for quality of experience reasons few go overboard in terms of numbers followed. Follow over-many accounts and the result is too much 'noise', swamping the useful purpose of social media. So following settles into a band between a few dozen accounts to the mid hundreds. A 'comfortable' medium that means that generally speaking we are actually being highly selective in who wins our allegiance with a follow.

In broad analysis

In UK agriculture the choices made by farmers regarding who wins a follow can be divided in a number of ways. One of the most telling is the proportions of agricultural/non-agricultural accounts being followed. Agriculture represents a mean average 63% share. Non-agricultural represents a 37% share.

The agricultural majority can be further sub-divided into: other UK farmers (21%), farmers overseas (10%), and the broad network of agricultural suppliers, manufacturers, commentators, and similar accounts (32%).

37% is a sizeable minority and the words ‘eclectic’ and ‘highly individual’ are weak adjectives to describe the range of choices being made by UK farmers.

Names and faces from UK television and sport (Jeremy Clarkson, Jamie Oliver, Duncan Bannatyne, Alan Sugar, Lewis Hamilton) lead the field along with a diversity of local accounts - particularly ones that are related to food and drink.

An overview from this is that social media can't be regarded as an agricultural monoculture; there's much more to it than just being a new farm business information channel - for most users being entertained and connecting with a wider world are big parallel attractions.

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