James Arnold, Chief Digital Officer, Rooster Strategic Solutions
If you’re looking for a quick answer, there are somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000 U.S. farmers actively using TikTok. You’re welcome. But the journey to reach this conclusion is a story unto itself, with surprising implications for Ag Marketers.
I’ve recommended that clients keep an eye on TikTok as it’s grown, but until recently, I haven’t recommended it as a tactic to reach production agriculture. There were simply too many negatives, not the least of which is that the channel seems to be produced by and for teenagers with short attention spans.
But TikTok is on the rise. It’s projected to earn $11 Billion in ad revenue this year, more than Snapchat and Twitter combined, and reaches more than 1 billion active users worldwide. Surely that would include some farmers, right? You can find any number of sources for basic demographics on the channel; 57% of users are female, 32% of users are between 25 and 34 years old, etc. Drilling down to identify farmer use, however, required reaching out to the Ag Community.
I thought it would be an easy question to answer. It wasn’t. I started by asking friends and colleagues at other agencies, marketing firms, and publishing houses, but quickly found that we were all in the dark together. So, I threw a question on LinkedIn, which was seen by more than 1,000 people who started talking about it, and eventually shed some light on the situation.
The first to respond were our friends at Coegi who took their data, cleansed it, and came back with the number 22,000. Assuming that there are roughly 200,000 full-time farmers in the U.S., ten percent is probably a fair depiction. Randall Reilly ran a data set and came up with 12,000 to 15,000. Meanwhile, Amplified Ag ran something that undergirds why this question matters. Within the farming population, when you look at farmers under 40, TikTok and Snapchat are the top indexing channels. Facebook and Twitter aren’t in the top four. If you want to reach young farmers, they might have Facebook and Twitter, but they don’t really use them.
So, is it time for Ag to Embrace TikTok? As recently as last October, I would have said no. Now, I’m a believer, but with reservations. TikTok is still a young person’s channel, and there’s plenty of gross content that will pop up just before and after your video in the feed. Few ag companies will be able to walk the brand safety line required to participate on the channel. And even fewer ag companies have the time, money, and energy to speak to the channel’s users in an authentic way, which is critical.
But if you’ve been waiting for TikTok to reach critical mass, it’s there. It’s simply too big to ignore. It used to be a social phenomenon, now it’s a marketing phenomenon. This is a key time for you to bring a unique approach to a unique audience, with short, well-produced, personable, and entertaining content. If you have questions, or aren’t sure where to start, I’d love to have a conversation.