Interpretive Summary: #GoingtotheFair: a social media listening analysis
By: Dr. Emily Taylor
The development of agritourism venues as a way to connect the general public to agriculture industries and food production has gained much attention in recent years. Agricultural fairs and festivals have provided social engagement, entertainment, youth development opportunities, and exhibition of a variety of agricultural products for many years. Although they are rich in culture, they have also been under scrutiny for associated zoonotic disease transmission and biosecurity risks.
The literature provides little data that describes how agricultural fairs affect the public’s perception of various agricultural endeavors, especially livestock enterprises. A recent article published in Translational Animal Science sought to quantify and analyze data from social media to gain an understanding of the discussions, posts, and media prevalence about agricultural fairs on the Web. Over a 27-mo period, a general search for online media referencing agricultural fair keywords was completed with 2,091,350 mentions. These references were further divided by livestock, fair food, or one of the major product producing species (dairy, beef, poultry, swine).
Researchers found that the single largest domain for all fair-related results was Twitter, however, livestock-related media was generated by news sources. Overall the sentiment associated with mentions of agricultural fairs was positive, with fair food and cattle both at 98%. Despite references to swine flu outbreaks, the overall references to swine were positive as well.
In conclusion, during the time period studied, livestock and animal products resulted in positive net sentiment. There are however many aspects of the agricultural fairs worthy of further investigation. This would include the risk of zoonotic disease and public perceptions of the livestock industries.