i-Three Issue Corps 2016 – Using Social Media to tell Agriculture’s Story

Doug Edlund

Assistant Director

University of Tennessee, Marketing and Communications

lauren vath headshot

 Lauren Vath

Director of Advancement Communications

University of Tennessee, UTIA Advancement

Doug Edlund said: 

What is the change you are designing to achieve?

Increase agricultural awareness in a young urban/surburban population in Tennessee.

How will you measure that change?

Through engagement on social media, website (desktop and mobile) and usage of our hashtag TNMagicMoments. Also through measurable changes in behavior in regards to supporting agriculture though consumer habits and/or participation in agriculture at a micro level, e.g., personal gardening, participation in agritourism, etc.

What is the innovative component or strategy you will implement as a result of the design-a-thon?

Using an integration of social media and mobile web, our project utilizes an end-user strategy. In other words, how will the end user benefit from using the tools and educational information as a point of education and connection to food systems, farm-to-table restaurants, While the social media component was already launched, there was no true strategy to identity target audiences. Using our concept mapping model, we have identified our target audience as urban-suburbanites who identify as “foodies” We are also looking at targeting additional audiences e.g., low-income targets.

How did the design-a-thon help you?

Doug: It has allowed me to think in terms of concept design in order to help with effective project implementation. Additionally, it was great to interact with experts for valuable feedback. Having someone not close to the project offer guidance and advice was very valuable.

Lauren: It forced us to consider the core target audience and identify the full purpose of our campaign. This led to a more concrete end-user focused plan.


The project will focus on increasing visibility of food systems through targeted communications channels. We will look at all platforms including both traditional and nontraditional media. This includes social media campaigns. In addition, we will target our communications at non-traditional audiences, e.g., suburban and urban target demographics. Rural areas are already aware of the importance of agriculture to food systems and its economic impact. This is why reaching non-traditional audiences with messages about agriculture and its importance to our society and economy is vitally important. We must reach audiences that have little to no awareness of the agriculture.

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