Farm Blogging Survey: please help with survey design

I have been working on the design of a survey of farming blogs, and this blog is a request for your help with the design of that survey.  I am proposing to use a simple online survey based on a google form.  The answers are then automatically collated into a spreadsheet and it should be possible easily to share the collated results of the survey.

Key questions so far seem to be:

  • Identify a farmer/farming blog.  For each blog:
  • Who – user id
  • Who – person and location
  • Who – farm business owner or manager/worker or ‘other’: does the differentiation matter here?
  • What – blogging platform(s): blogger, FWi, FG, wordpress, twitter, youtube – am I missing any of the key sites?
  • What – farm: enterprises, size ….
  • Target audience (if known): other farmers, consumers, policy-makers, special interest groups, schools or other education, ….
  • Willingness of bloggers to respond to follow-up questions or interviews.

There’s a lot of stuff that can then be added by looking at the blogs themselves, for example:

  • Frequency of postings
  • Topics
  • Other stats – depending on blogging software, eg Twitter would allow easy capture of followers and followed, number of tweets etc.
  • Cross references to other sources (eg inclusion of weblinks)
  • Media: eg, Blogger + Twitter + YouTube (multiple media v single media) …
  • Focus, eg day to day farming diary, discussion with other farmers, explanation of farming activity, promotion of diversified farm enterprise, agricultural policy influence ….

So this blog is an invitation to ask you what you think the survey should be asking?  A previous blog on ‘Farmers who Blog’ generated considerable interest and I’m keen to build on this.

Finally thanks to the Harper Adams students who have expressed an interest in this area for their dissertations in 2012/12 – there’s still scope for a student who would like this challenge in 2011/12.  Just drop me a line if you are interested – contact details on the Harper Adams University College webpage.  The challenging part of a study like this is probably greatest in the background research – finding enough well-grounded published material for the literature review.  Once over that hurdle, a survey and its analysis should be straightforward leaving enough time for follow up work by a well-organised student.

Please do respond with your thoughts, whether you are a farming/farmer blogger here in the UK or elsewhere, a social-media pundit or an interested onlooker.

11 thoughts on “Farm Blogging Survey: please help with survey design

  1. I think I would include Facebook as a blogging platform, as some farmers use this method. Also you can have an “other” category to see how many use other sites – like Tumblr.

  2. How about: what medium are the blog entries in – ie are they word-based, or do blog entries include photos, video or audio?

    Also, do blog entries allow readers/users to ‘share, repost those entries via Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn

    Blog platforms – wordpress = hosted by wordpress or standalone wordpress site (mine is the latter.

    Other platforms: instagram / linkedin ?

    1. Johann, Thanks, good points, particularly for the site survey. I use the hosted version of WordPress – If you’re hosting yourself I think that means you’re on Thanks for the retweet by the way – I hope if I get lots of input at this stage we can make it a really useful survey and come up with a few helpful recommendations. Regards

    1. Anne, thanks for the question. I have several hopes for the survey. One is that it will make a good final year or postgraduate student major project. I hope that we will also have some useful data which we can share with respondents and others by making one or more reports available.

      Perhaps most important of all, I hope we will also be able to gather together some good tips and advice on successful use of social media and highlight some good examples. I suppose behind all this is my view that blogs, twitter etc could all be used to explain farming much more effectively to a population which is largely disconnected from agriculture. I think that point extends to policy-makers and adminstrators as well. I’m also aware that there are already some very good examples out there – including yourself and others like Farmer Jake. Closer to home as it were, I think this could also be a very useful resource for students and prospective students who want to study agriculture.

      Whether we can achieve all this remains to be seen, but I don’t see why not if we start with a careful inventory of what is happening out there already. A great thing is that social media themselves also provide the means by which we can do it! However it’s also too easy to rush out a badly designed survey in this way, and therefore I want to take some time and a range of inputs to make sure that we do a good job.

      I hope that answers your question, but do let me know your own further thoughts.


  3. I definately think who is a question to be defined and what time they use to blog is it “free time” after work or “paid time” part of job description this leads on to Why? social interaction with others, communication/ debate, essential to business, quick fix for issues/advice?

  4. Charles
    on the back of your survey i have now decided to look into blogging myself, from an interest and educational context.
    I think a key elemnet from my perspective would be as above:plus this.

    Is the blog for information or (put rather simplistically) for interest?

    Look forward to meeting up

    1. Thanks Mark,

      Yes I agree that some kind of analysis of either the blog or a sample of posts from each blog is needed to ascertain the purpose or intended audience.


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