Using Social Media to enhance farming business

With 44% of the global population reportedly using social media*, the benefits far exceed a purely social connection. We celebrate top tips from social media savvy farmers from around the world

Reaching out and gathering opinions

Being active on social media gives instant access to a worldwide audience, from global companies to local farmers.  This enables you to reach out directly and ask questions – whether it is about a crop, machine, seed variety, most companies can be contacted through their social media account.

It is also a good place to gather feedback from others based on their experiences.  With over 20K followers on Twitter, Megz Reynolds (@farmermegzz) from Canada shares that “One of my favourite things about social media is that it allows me to connect with farmers all over the world. I can learn from them, lean on them for support and even build lasting friendships”.  Getting opinions and starting a discussion can be invaluable in making a decision.  It gives you “access to a wealth of information and new ideas” says Jake Freestone (@No1FarmerJake), Nuffield Scholar, UK farmer and regular contributor to the agricultural community.

Try sharing your expertise or engaging with an issue you may be facing.  “Start a discussion about sharing best practice,” says Chris Hewis (@ChrisHewis), farm manager and co-founder of #ClubHectare, an online farming networking community.  “It might be about setting a combine or plough; a home-made gadget to help with maintenance; discussing your fungicide program or variety choice; or asking whether anybody else is experiencing the same problems as you.”

Social Listening

For those who aren’t comfortable with committing to writing regular posts, following online discussions can also prove beneficial.  Social media can be used to benchmark what you are doing on farm both for local advice but also a “better understanding of global ag”, advises Tom Bradshaw (@ProagriLtd), farmer and European Agvocate.   

The instant update of news, market prices, grain marketing, or even following shows and events keeps the reader updated.  Often the audience will find the coverage of shows is “almost as good as being there”, reflects Chris.

Writing posts

Keeping posts succinct will also result in more success.  Consider using links and emojis to help keep them short. When using hashtags try not to use too many as it results in a drop in engagement, whereas the use of one or two can double it.  Recent findings advise to use under 40 characters on Facebook as this gives as much as 86% higher engagement, and under 100 characters on Twitter which gives 17% higher engagement * *. 

Content

As for content, keep it relevant, respectful and truthful and, as Jake warns, “only say on social media what you would say to a person face-to-face”.

“It is the fastest, easiest way to create a connection and market yourself and farm.  Each platform gives you a unique opportunity to reach and grow your audience and each one holds unique ways to grow and share,” says Lesley Kelly (@highheels&fields), Canadian farmer and blogger.

Social media can truly change your life, but should never take over your life.  “Before posting anything online,” says Chris “always ask yourself: would I be happy to see that on the front of a newspaper? Because you are posting it to the whole world.” 

As useful as social media is, never forget that what you put online is there for everyone to see. And like a tube of toothpaste – once it is out there, it is impossible to put it back.

*Source: We Are Social

* *Source: Buffer

Chris Hewis
Chris Hewis, co-founder of #ClubHectare, an online farming networking community
Megz Reynolds gif
Megz Reynolds from Canada has over 20K followers on Twitter
Jake Freestone
Jake Freestone, Nuffield Scholar, UK farmer and regular contributor to the agricultural community
Respect gif
Never forget that what you put online is there for everyone to see
Tom Bradshaw
Tom Bradshaw, farmer and European Agvocate
Lesley Kelly
Lesley Kelly, Canadian farmer and blogger