When it comes to marketing your farm and farm products, social media is not optional. Consumers want the story behind their food: who grew it, where it came from, and how it was produced. A social media presence gives your farm credibility and brand recognition. Adding social links to online content and webpages boosts your farm’s rank in search engine results (SEO).
Social media makes your farm accessible to customers. It allows them to virtually participate in food production, connect with you, and engage in conversations about the farm and how you do business.
Platforms are ever-evolving and new apps gain popularity every day. Keeping up with technology and trends is easier if you have a social media strategy. Design an effective social media strategy in 3 steps:
Step 1. Determine purpose
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other digital media are platforms to share your farm story with the world, but what story do you want to tell?
Farm social media serves several purposes. Farmers use it to market products, educate customers, advocate Ag issues, highlight special events, or simply to share life on the farm.
Determining the purpose of your social media activity will help you pick the right platforms and create effective content for each platform.
Step 2. Pick your digital platforms
There are dozens of social media platforms. Even the most tech savvy farmer can’t maintain a presence on every platform. Instead of stretching your farm thin, pick a few favorable platforms and engage.
The best platforms for your farm are the ones your customers already use. The chart provides a snapshot of 5 popular digital media platforms. 72% of websurfers use Facebook; that statistic is a great reason to start your social there¹. Consider your current customer profile and what social network they are already using.
Step 3. Create content
Popular media for posts differs for each platform. Instagram is for pictures. Snippets shine on Twitter. Each platform has post text limits and other nuances. Farmer marketers should craft their content to fit each platform.
Get more miles out of your content by tweaking it for fit, then posting it on multiple platforms. For example: I post a recipe on my farm blog, share it on my farm Facebook page, put a delicious looking pic on Instagram, then tweet about it in less than 140 characters.
Managing your farm’s social media can be time consuming. Free media management tools can save you time. Each platform offers prescheduling options and analytics. Hootsuite and Social Sprout are web services that allow you to connect and manage multiple platforms at the same time. Coschedule Blog analyzed 16 studies of social media to discover the best days and times to post². The chart includes a summary of findings.
Learn social media skills
Keep up with changing digital platforms and stay sharp through education. A variety of free tutorials for everything from creating podcasts and short videos to how to take better Instagram pics is available online. Socialmediaexaminer.com offers tips and tricks for major platforms.
As more farmers realize the benefit of getting social, organizations like The Food and Farm Institute and Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) have added social media workshops to their educational offerings. I attended a Social Strategies session for farmers at the OEFFA conference this spring. The Food and Farm Institute and Herdmark Media hosted a Telling Your Farm Story seminar this year.
Sharpen your social media skills by following farms, rural enthusiasts and Ag advocates. Notice what they do well and apply it to your farm social media. Likes, hearts and retweets will give you a good idea what type of content your customers enjoy. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to try new things. Ask for feedback and adjust your social media strategy to better serve your customers.
- The New Rules of PR by David Meerman Scott
- Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley
- Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen
¹ Maeve Duggan, ”The Demographics of Social Media Users,” Pew Research Center, August 19, 2015, accessed October 22, 2016 from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/the-demographics-of-social-media-users/
² Nathan Ellering, ”What 16 Studies Say About The Best Times To Post On Social Media,” Coschedule Blog, April 13, 2016, accessed October 23, 2016 from http://coschedule.com/blog/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/
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