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Getting "social" on the farm has nothing to do with animal husbandry

Social media as a marketing tool is free, easy, and the best way to reach customers, right?

The reality: social media can be friend or foe, depending on how much effort and expense you want to invest. The days of occasional posts hitting the news feed of all your followers are over. Social platforms like Facebook are businesses, so they’re constantly changing their processes (algorithms), making it tougher for users to guess how to use them most effectively.

You’ve got stalls to muck or a market to pack for, so let’s get to it: here are Seven Simple Steps to Successful Ag Social

#1. Monitor and adjust. Put six ‘experts’ in a room and you’ll get seven different opinions on how often to post. Insights on Facebook, Twitter Analytics, and likes/comments/engagement on Instagram tell the story. Post too ofen--the numbers go down; not often enough--your content may not be seen at all. Try posting at various times/days and see what’s working. Consider a free scheduling platform like Hootsuite (they'll even figure out the best time to post and do it for you) to pre-post so you’re not tied to your screen when you’ve got farm chores to do.

#2. Don’t just like, share and comment on Facebook. Getting a lot of ‘likes’ used to be

key to getting your farm product out there and building awareness of your business, but no more. Share and comment on others’ posts, and invite them to do the same to boost the likelihood of your followers seeing that photo of a perfectly ripe and just fuzzy enough peach or flawless sirloin.

And speaking of that….

#3. Appeal to the eye and the heart. Fact--posts with images get shared most. Nathan and Shelah Layton of Hershberger Heritage Farms in Sellersville, PA, excel at using high quality, artsy photos and storytelling that draws the reader in. Visit their page and you’ll find a cover photo of a family you can’t help but want to know, with their sheep in the frame. Cute kids, fluffy animals—for the average consumer, what’s not to like? If you’re not including photos in your posts, or featuring poorly composed shots of livestock with legs cut off, or only posting close-ups of the latest squash, it’s time to branch out.

#4. Ask questions. The Farmer’s Life has over 30K followers and tells the story of a family farm in Indiana. Brian is tech savvy and knows how to write a provocative question that tests the audience (“If you know what this is for then good job, you! If you don't you can find out here!” above a photo of his hand holding cornsilk.) Follow his lead and keep it short. Extra points for drawing visitors in with a question and then slipping in some education at no extra charge.

#5. Use video. Video posts engage even more than images. If you can ‘do’ Facebook, you can use Facebook live to share a how to, farm tour, or showcase livestock.

#6. Make it easy on ‘em. This goes for your website as well as social. Plaster your contact info and full address where customers can find you, and include the county. If they can’t find you, they can’t buy from you.

#7. “All animals are special, but some are more special than others.” (With apologies to George Orwell) Why say “beef” when you can say “humanely raised….premium…pasture-raised….savory…” assuming those claims are true. Cheat a little—borrow some adjectives from this site.

Bonus to consider: Pay the man. Boosting on Facebook will get you seen, get your farm page noticed and grow followers. But this hook is just a first step—you can spend less than $20 to get people in the ‘front door’, but you’ve got to offer what they want at a price they’ll pay.

What tips can you share with our PA Veteran ag community? Tell us on Facebook.

--M. Thomas-Brooker


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