So­phie is a so­cial me­dia in­flu­encer af­ter 10

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FEATURE -

So­phie Barnes @Sheep­ish­so­phie is a first gen­er­a­tion sheep farmer from the UK who uses her Twit­ter ac­count to show her pride in the in­dus­try and to in­ter­act with fel­low farm­ers.

“I also use it a lot to get ad­vice from farm­ers, agron­o­mists and vets around the world. I send a tweet out ask­ing for ad­vice, and within min­utes, I have peo­ple of­fer­ing sug­ges­tions from the US, the UK and here in NZ [where she cur­rently helps to run a sheep farm]. “I also re­ceive a lot of mess- ages from young peo­ple start­ing up farm­ing or want­ing to travel to New Zealand, ask­ing for ad­vice. I love be­ing able to sup­port younger peo­ple this way, as I was once in their po­si­tion,” she said.

From a non-farm­ing back­ground, So­phie has used Twit­ter to de­velop con­tacts and to progress within the in­dus­try. “There is a huge ag com­mu­nity on twit­ter, more than you’d ever ex­pect. When I first got into farm­ing, I didn’t know any­one, or any­thing for that mat­ter, and Twit­ter pro­vided me with hun­dreds of men­tors, con­sul­tants and friends.

“I’ve been on Twit­ter, as part of the ag com­mu­nity, for nearly 10 years and it has, hand on heart, got­ten me to where I am to­day. I’m so much of an ad­vo­cate for Twit­ter and farm­ing that I tell young peo­ple to join up to help get their foot in the door” she said.

How­ever, ru­ral use of so­cial me­dia can be hin­dered by low broad­band speed. So­phie ini­tially en­coun­tered chal­lenges with a lack of broad­band in the re­mote part of New Zealand where she and her part­ner farm. They man­aged to re­ceive one bar of measly 3G by perch­ing on the cor­ner of their couch. “With no one else but us two work­ing on the farm, and no com­mu­nity to speak of down our val­ley, the lack of in­ter­net and there­fore ac­cess to Twit­ter re­ally did make life hard here. “But we now have Wi-fi and I feel just that lit­tle bit more con­nected with the world, and the peo­ple that have sup­ported me for the last 10 years”

“I’d like to think my twit­ter ac­count pro­motes farm­ing as a

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