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MASSILLON, Ohio — It’s free, it’s easy to use and it can help you build customer relations and market more of your product.
Those were some of the selling points two speakers gave on social media, during the kickoff presentation for the Northeast Ohio Small Farm Conference & Trade Show March 26.
Julie Fox, Ohio State University direct marketing specialist, and Rob Leeds, OSU Extension educator in Delaware County, encouraged farmers to begin by doing an online search of their own name, or farm’s name, to see what others already are saying.
If an operation doesn’t already have its own website or social media account, it should consider starting one, to be sure its farm name or identification isn’t used by another entity.
You might be surprised to find pictures, video or references to your own farm, that you didn’t know existed. These can go a long way in telling you what people think about your business, or what information they may be seeking.
Small farmers should also spend some time becoming familiar with the different kinds of social media, Fox and Leeds said. There are a host of options, with Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs and websites.
Then, develop and use your own, to spread the word about what you do. Share things that are unique, seasonal or immediate.
Tell your own story, but also engage your customer. Start conversations, seek feedback on new products, allow customers to tell about their experience with your business — even if it’s criticism.
A big plus of social media, Leeds said, is it allows customers to see the people behind the business, and feel at home.
“They trust information they receive from people who are most like themselves,” he said.
Social media allows a business to develop a sense of loyalty with customers, they said, by making the customer feel important and engaging their interests.
The best part of social media, Fox and Leeds said, is building relationships.
“Develop the relationship,” Leeds said. The message of social media should be, “come on in and be a part of the relationship.”