In researching for this blog, I discovered some gems of how farmers were using social media.
But it raises the important question. Why use social media? And what should you post anyway?
I don’t think you need social media as a farmer.
I don’t think it’s going to be the engine that drives the most business.
But, if you’re on it already and you don’t mind putting in an hour or two per week at the most, it can help to deepen your relationships with your customers in ways that were totally unavailable to us until about ten years ago.
The main reason, in my mind, to use social media as a farmer is to establish what’s called the Know, Like, Trust Factor. This means that they know about you first and come to feel warm feelings towards you but also that you are credible and honest in their minds. Social media helps to establish (sometimes) and deepen (always) the relationship you have with your customers. It’s a way for them to get to know you better, learn about your farm and come to more deeply appreciate all that you do. Social media can help them understand your unique point of view.
In all of this, remember the Three C’s of Social Media. You can create content, but you can also curate it and start up conversations. The way you curate it, what you choose and how you frame it, tells them a lot more than just posting pictures from your farm.
The more deeply connected they feel to you, the more likely they’re going to go to your booth.
Some Things I Noticed from Reviewing Social Media Feeds from Dozens of Farms:
- Whatever you decide to post, and you’ll discover a wealth of options below, write something to go along with it to give context to what you’re posting. What is it about? Why is it important? Help sell the thing you’re posting. Why does it matter.
- When you post photos of you, make sure they’re good photos. Smiling helps. But don’t post photos that make you look scary or unfriendly. In my research, I saw a few of these.
- Too much of any one of the types of post below will not be compelling. It’s important to have a variety. Some posts just build a sense of connection, some build trust and some directly sell. I viewed some feeds and there was a monotonous flavour to them. Always the same kinds of posts. Mix it up.
- Share fun and quirky things that help them get to know you as a person and what you’re interested in. For example, if, like me, you’re a huge Doctor Who fan then, from time to time, share something about that. Help them to see you as a three dimensional human being, not just a farmer.
- Good quality photos. I noticed that some farms photos were lacklustre
Most Important Things To Post to Build the Relationship:
Relationship Building Idea #1: Share memes, quotes, articles and videos about food, farming, nature, nutrition, cooking and anything else that ties into your farm’s philosophy and who you are. Educate them about why to eat more of what you sell. Help them see the value in it that they might not have seen before. Marketing is about establishing the value beyond the immediately apparent. The more of these you share (and memes are one the most shareable things you’ll post) the more they will get, over time, a sense of how you see the world and what is important to you.
Again, I’ve made up a starter kit for you here.
I think this should be at least 40% of your social media work. Sharing things you resonate with and think would resonate with your customers. This establishes you as a hub. It gives people a reason to check out your social media feed that’s self serving to them – finding cool stuff. Only your most die hard fans will check out your feed to see what’s going on for you all.
Relationship Building Idea #2: Sharing updates and photos of your family, animals and the land on the farm. Help them understand what your life is like. What’s an average day for you. Make sure they’re seeing photos of you so they become familiar with your face. Don’t become a faceless farm. Let them get to know you and your personality. Let them get to know a bit of the characters on your farm. Show them the fun, beauty, struggle and hardship of your life. Open up to them and their hearts will open back to you. Your bio on your ‘About Us’ page can help in this too.
Relationship Building Idea #4: Share recipes, cooking tips and give them ideas for new ways to prepare and enjoy what you sell. This should be at least 10% of what you post. At least. If they see a recipe they like using something you sell, you give them a very compelling reason to get it from you.
Relationship Building Idea #5: Remind people about your events. We’ll be talking about this more in a future blog post in this series. But this might just be one of the best uses of social media – getting people to meet you face to face.
Relationship Building Idea #6: Share your story and point of view. I don’t see this done enough and I probably don’t do enough of it myself either. This could be written or you could just make a video with your smart phone and upload it and share your thought of the day. What’s on your mind? What are you noticing? Why you do things the way you do? What is your philosophy around food and farming and where did it come from? Consider going on a rant.
Relationship Building Idea #7: Educate people about what goes into your products and what they are. We assume they know so much more about what we do than they actually do. Educate, educate, educate.
Relationship Building Idea #8: Be an advocate. Keep people up to date on larger trends and struggles in the farming community. Again, this establishes you and your social media presence as a hub. If all you do is share photos of your farm or promote your stuff people will lose interest. Remember: most of your customers are, at some level, interested in the same things you are. They are passionate about the same causes: food security, local food, treating animals well, getting back to the land etc. So be a source of current, up to date, cutting edge thought on these issues. Let them know what’s happening in the world and what they can do about it. They’ll be grateful and trust you more. You can read more blog posts on this notion of speaking to the Bigger Why here.
Most Important Things To Post to Make Money:
Money Making Post Idea #1: Share beautifully done photos of your produce and products. Help them picture what it is you do. What does it look like. Don’t just be a generic farm that ‘grows food’. Keep reminding and showing them.
Money Making Post Idea #2: Announce new products and services and time sensitive availabilities. These are the posts that will make you money directly.
Money Making Post Idea #3: Seasonal Promotional Tie Ins. If there’s a holiday approaching, why not remind them how perfectly what you sell might fit into their existing plans? It’s amazing how many of your customers will need something (e.g flowers) for a special day (e.g. Mother’s Day) and totally forget that you offer them! Remind them with enough lead time and they might just bring that business to you.
Other Things to Post to Add Variety:
Variety Adding Post #1: Introduce people to those working on your farm. Remember, most of your customers will never go out to your farm. They don’t have any sense of who picked their food and brought it to them. They will, likely, only ever know the people at the stall at the Farmer’s Market. Why not have a professional photographer come out to your farm on a day when all of your staff will be there. Have them take photos of the farm but also of all your workers, volunteers and interns and then, once a week or month, post their photo and a little, glowing write up about who they are? Help your customers get to know you.
Variety Adding Post #2: Shout outs to colleagues and complimentary businesses and products you think your customers would love. This helps establish you as a hub and someone who is ‘in the know’ but also demonstrates good will and that you aren’t just in it for yourself. Again, you could do these once per week or month. Your customers love being introduced to new products and services. If you introduce them to a bunch of new things they love, they will not only thank you but come to trust your taste in things. It builds a halo of trustworthiness around you that will also translate to their trust in you and what you do.
Variety Adding Post #3: Let them know what events you’ll be at. If you’re going to have your food served where or will be vending or speaking at an event, outside of your regular farmer’s markets, let them know!
Variety Adding Post #4: Contests: Run a contest, tie it into an existing day, raise money for charity and feature your customers.
Variety Adding Post #5: Share the ideas you have for developing to make your farm better. Them knowing this will build confidence in who you are and what you’re about. It will help them see, in practical terms, how much you care for your animals and the food you grow.
Variety Adding Post #6: Share pieces of history and remind people of your story. I like the idea of going back to old photos, news clippings or journal entries and sharing them.
Variety Adding Post #7: Do a poll! As for opinions and guidance. What direction should you go as a farm? You don’t need to base your opinions on it but it will give you more information and help them feel more invested in your farm.
Variety Adding Post #8: Share when you’re in the media (and remind people they can buy from you while you’re at it). Whenever you’re featured in the media it’s tremendously credibility building and legitimizing of you and your work. It’s another way to share your story.
Variety Adding Post #9: Share photos from the Farmer’s Market. So simple. Do this once per week. Take a photo of arriving or setting up or selling or packing down for the day. Mix it up. But help them get to know what your farm stand looks like. Help them remember who you are and what you look like and what you’re selling. These posts will also be greatly appreciated by the Farmer’s Market managers.
Variety Adding Post #10: Share big accomplishments that might be of interest to your customers. Again, it’s so easy to forget that not everyone knows about these things unless we tell them. So tell them.
Variety Adding Post #11: Let people know when there’s something worth watching on TV, Netflix or in theatres. Again, this establishes you as a hub of good content. If they watch one or two things you recommend and end up loving them, you will go way up in their esteem. They will trust you more because they understand your point of view more deeply. They will come to understand that, “Wow. These people really understand the whole food system.” They’ll be more likely to check out what you post.
Variety Adding Post #12: Saying ‘Thank You’. Enough said.
Variety Adding Post #13: Limited Supply Announcements! Let people know when your supplies are running low and why they’re running low. And make sure to let them know where they can go to order.
Variety Adding Post #14: Let them know where you’ll be next and give them a reason to come to your booth. Will you be offering free samples? Something home cooked? Do you have a new joke that they need to hear?
I’d also strongly recommend checking out Modern Farmer’s Instagram account.
Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers.