Patrick Dunn - Sep 26, 2016

Social Media For Farmers 101

Social. Media. You can’t go one day without hearing those two words. They are everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, and YouTube … the list goes on and on. Our lives are beginning to revolve around social media, whether we like it or not. For farmers, utilizing these incredible tools for marketing and raising awareness can either be a dream come true or a technological nightmare. In this article I hope to demystify social media and give tips on the best ways to use specific social networks to market, promote and raise awareness of your farm and organic agriculture as a whole.

Facebook

Facebook is a perfect place to start with social media. Once you have created a Facebook page you can begin to share posts, create events and connect to other social media outlets like Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. In order to gain more followers or likes on Facebook you can easily just ask people you are personally friends with to go and like or follow you. But the way to reach a broader audience is through Facebook posts. Sharing photographs, links or stories is the best way to draw people in. When you draw someone in with something interesting, they can then also share your post, reaching a larger audience, therefore pulling in new customers.

Here are some great tips for the best Facebook posts or tweets:
  • Include a link. Posts with links receive twice as many clicks as those without.

  • Keep it brief. Posts with 40 characters or less receive 86% more engagement.

  • Be consistent with past posts and post often.

  • When posting photographs, be sure they are high quality and images with people or animals are much more likely to be viewed than those without.

  • Post at off peak times, typically between 5-9am.

  • Hashtag. The all powerful hashtag is not only fun way to make statements but is also a great way to help other people find you.
Instagram

Instagram is becoming one of the most popular social media outlets right now. The best part about Instagram is that it keeps things simple. Being able to only post pictures and videos allows you to get creative and show people who you are. It is a perfect way to let people into your world and create a visual image of your farm. Also, gaining followers is quite easy. The two best ways to get followers are: 1. Follow other people, and 2. Use hashtags.

1. Following
When you follow others, they are notified and typically they will check you out as well. My favorite Farmer Instagrammers are @kneehighfarmer, based out of Chester County, PA and @bluefoxfarm, out of Applegate, OR. Both post consistent and regular content and sometimes even something educational. If your content is interesting and eye catching, you will most likely get a follow back. Research suggests that for every 6 people you follow you get at least 1 follow back. So the more people you follow the more people see you and the more you are suggested to others.

2. #Hashtag
Then there is the #hashtag. They are everywhere these days. But you may ask, “Do they really do anything?”. The answer is yes. Hashtags are extremely helpful. People can search for different hashtags and see every single post ever posted with that hashtag in it. So if you put #farming in your Instagram or Facebook post, it will be seen by anyone who ever searches for #farming on those sites. Using hashtags properly and responsibly is actually the tricky part. There is a happy medium between over hash-tagging and really trying to choose the best hashtags for your content. Choosing highly searched-for hashtags is of course the best bet. Instagram even helps you with this by telling you how many other posts have the specific hashtag you just typed in. Making up wild and long hashtag sentences won’t really get you seen but perhaps will make someone laugh.  Also creating your own hashtag for your brand and using it every time is helpful as your followers become familiar with it.

Perhaps the most important tip for all businesses with a social media presence is to curate a unique voice and image for each social media outlet. For instance, if you are actively using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and you post the same content on all three, your followers are more likely to unfollow you or lose interest. But if you were to share uniquely different information, photographs, links or stories on all three, that will keep people engaged and excited to see more from you.

Regardless of which social media outlet you choose to use, having a presence on social media is crucial for marketing your farm and products. Keeping people engaged with consistent and honest content should always be your top priority. It may seem unnatural to put effort into all this technology - as farmers we tend to enjoy our time in the sun more than staring at a screen. Even the smallest effort on social media will make a big difference for your farm. And don’t forget to have some #fun with it. Be creative. Be smart. Be you.

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Patrick Dunn has been farming for over 9 years and his experience ranges from production scale market farming to community based urban agriculture. He studied at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UCSC and co-founded Emerald Street Community Farm and Master Street Farm in Philadelphia, PA. When Patrick isn't farming, you can find him dangling from ropes high on the granite walls of Yosemite or jetting off to the mountains for solitude in the wilderness.

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