POMPEY, N.Y. — Some people think social media influencers are out of touch, but most are just like the rest of us.
Many have jobs outside of social media.
Some are even farmers.
The NY Farm Girls weren't sure how influential they would be when they started an Instagram account in 2015, but today their voice is heard by more than 100,000 followers.
Evelyn Stout, Claudia Leubner and JoJo Leubner started NY Farm Girls to combat misconceptions about dairy farms. The sisters share the story of their family's Marietta farm, and in doing so their Instagram account has attracted 143,000 followers, and their TikTok account has even more, at 654,000. NY Farm Girls also has a YouTube page with 88,500 subscribers.
That's a lot of power for ag advocacy.
Social media keeps the sisters busy, but farming is still the main occupation. They milk about 500 cows at the family farm, mostly Holsteins and some Jerseys, and grow around 1,800 acres of corn, soybeans, hay and wheat.
Evelyn, the oldest sister at 23, is the herd manager. She studied at SUNY Cobleskill before returning to the farm full time. Claudia, 21, works in the crops and business side of the farm. JoJo, a 17-year-old high school senior, takes care of the calves.
NY Farm Girls can share the story of agriculture with a lot of people, but a large social media following can also bring out what Evelyn calls "keyboard warriors," who post negative comments.
"We have learned to ignore them," JoJo said, adding that when they first started posting, hateful comments would bother them a lot more than they do now.
Evelyn agreed, saying that most people who type rude comments would never say the same in person.
They are surprised, however, when they receive negative comments from other farmers.
Some farmers, they say, don't agree with their willingness to share their lives on social media, or don't agree with the types of posts they make.
But Evelyn tells those farmers that they're only hurting themselves by not telling their stories.
And social media success can mean added revenue for the farm.
"Farmers are always looking for extra income," Evelyn said, adding that starting a social media page for a farm can be a simple way to earn more money.
Growing up on social media can be both a blessing and a curse, the sisters admit.
Evelyn said that no matter what she is doing in her day-to-day life, she's always thinking about what she could post online, which can make it hard to relax.
But there are benefits, JoJo said, such as travel opportunities, like going to Empire Farm Days to meet with people and talk about promoting agriculture.
The ultimate benefit, they said, is when consumers respond positively and want to learn more about farming. That's the mission.