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Abstract

An Internet survey was administered (14-17 May 2010) to 1210 consumers who had active Facebook, Twitter, or blog accounts to investigate their use of social networks and their attitudes towards direct marketers who utilize these tools. Overall, 94% of participants have an active Facebook account with 33.1% believing Facebook is a “good fit” for on-farm markets and farmers’ markets pertaining to the food they sell. Relating to other advertising and promotions participants believe are a “good fit,” responses ranged from 61.7% for print advertisements (newspaper, store circulars, mail) to 15.3% for MySpace. Differences were explored between groups based on fresh fruit and vegetable and value-added processed product consumption. Participants who responded that they consumed 3 or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables during an average day were more likely to believe that print advertising (66.0%), email (41.8%), Facebook (36.9%), and blogs (22.4%) were a “good fit” for these direct marketers compared to participants who responded that they consumed 1 to 2 servings. Based on number of servings of value-added processed products participants reported consuming, those who consumed 3 or more servings in an average day were more likely to believe Facebook (42.9%) was a good fit compared to those who consumed 1 to 2 servings (22.4%). Results can assist direct marketers and other agricultural businesses to identify social networking tools that best appeal to their target markets, components consumers feel are mandatory for a direct marketers, and what advertising and promotions these retailers should consider to disseminate farm market and on-farm market information.

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