Tips from farmers on starting out in Social Media

In 2018, users of social media increased by 10% to an astounding 3.4 billion* globally. We asked some farmers active on Social Media and industry experts to share tips on creating and maintaining successful accounts

Where to start?

Think about what you want to get out of it. “If it is to promote your business, then you’ve got to start with what your customers want.  As much as social media is a great forum for conversations, it really is a marketing tool too,” suggests Andrew Campbell (@FreshAirFarmer), a farmer in Southern Ontario and founder of the podcast Food Bubble. 

Time Management

Whether you focus on one channel or expand into several, remember that they take time and resources to manage.  Creative content is often reactive – taking pictures or videos in the moment.  However, don’t forget to factor in the time needed to monitor the account, reply or engage in discussions, and ideally plan ahead to upcoming events that will provide content to inspire and engage the audience.

Your goals will dictate how much time it will take, but make sure you have a clear idea of a strategy before you begin.  “Having a strategy gives objectives for measuring, tracking and to improve upon,” suggests Simon Haley, founder of @FarmsOfTheWorld on Twitter.

Setting up an account

In order to start a brand, decide on whether you base it on the business or you as an individual. “Choosing a name should follow your own brand. A farm name or your own name are all good things to start with. It should be easy to say and spell so that if you advertise your account, people will be able to search it easily even if they only hear it once or twice,” advises Andrew. 

Think on brand consistency – a specific style, color pallet, logo – what tone and writing style you will be using and keep it consistent.

WHERE, WHAT and WHEN to post?

What makes a good post? Knowing your audience will help answer this question.  Start by doing some research.  Follow similar accounts and monitor appropriate conversations, learn how they work and what makes them successful. 

If you stick with what interests you, what you know and keep it dynamic, you are half way there.  Andrew suggests that “how old your customer is, what kind of information are they interested in, and even what time of day they tend to be active on social media” should also be taken into consideration.  “Keep in mind though, when you do post, not everyone will be on social media at that moment to see it, so a little more often is better than not very often,” advises Andrew.

Photos and videos are key.  Content that is visual is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content**. Keeping the content flowing will take time, but the simplicity of taking a photo on your smartphone and posting straight away means that it can be efficient.

Give it a go!

Lesley Kelly (@highheels&fields), Canadian farmer and blogger, shares some advice: “We’ve all put out posts expecting engagement and then there’s the dreaded silence.  You have to invite your audience to take action with every post. If you want people to read your content and engage on your platforms, you need to do the same with other people in and outside your networks.”

Find and interact with your advocates, engage with those who are influential, and remember that agriculture is still a people industry, so make sure you are generous with your likes and shares – follow and engage back.

Some final advice from Andrew Ward (@wheat_daddy), owner of one of the UK MacDonald’s flagship farms: “Use plenty of photos and videos. Make sure your content is dynamic and interesting. Think about what you would be interested in and engage with.” And most importantly, while social media can truly be a benefit for many reasons, remember to be honest, be polite, and never get so involved that it ends up taking over your life.

*Source: We Are Social

**Source: Hubspot

Goodpost gif
What makes a good post? Knowing your audience will help answer this question
Lesley Kelly
Lesley Kelly, Canadian farmer and blogger
Andrew Ward
Andrew Ward, owner of one of the UK MacDonald’s flagship farms
Andrew Campbell
Andrew Campbell, farmer in Southern Ontario, Canada and founder of the podcast Food Bubble
Simon Haley
Simon Haley, founder of @FarmsOfTheWorld on Twitter