Social Media is Fertile Ground for Farmers and Food Producers
Alison Kosakowski Jul 20, 2012 The Beat 0 comments
Like all business owners, farmers and food producers face an abundance of demands on their time and the increasing challenge of turning a profit in a tight economy. Add to that the seemingly endless day-to-day needs – tractors to fix, animals to care for, orders to fill. So it is easy to understand why so few small businesses in the farming and food industry are carving time out of their busy schedules to experiment with social media.
And yet there’s so much to be gained. Need convincing? Consider these five reasons farmers and food producers should make the leap and engage in social media…
1) Give your business a face and a voice. At this unique moment in time, our culture is captivated by food and farming. Believe it or not, who you are and what you are doing is very interesting to people outside the industry! Perhaps it is because so many Americans work in cubicles and long to be outdoors, or idealize farming as a simpler way of life in a complicated world. Whatever the reason, people are yearning to connect with the origins of their food. Social media provides farmers and food producers an instant opportunity to share stories and photos. The little day-to-day events – seeds sprouting, pies baking in the oven, chicks hatching from their eggs – provide a chance to engage consumers on an intimate level and build loyalty for your product. By inviting the public to become “part of your story” through social media, you are fulfilling their deep-seeded desire to connect.
2) You’ll undoubtedly learn something. Traditional media is about “talking at consumers," whereas social media is a two-way conversation. In other words, listening is just as important as talking in this space. By engaging in a dialogue with your customers, you’ll undoubtedly learn about what’s working well, and where you could improve. Of course, cracking that customer satisfaction code is key to increasing your sales.
3) They’ll think of you, more often. When a customer “likes” your Facebook page, or follows you on Twitter, they are opting to receive information from you on a regular basis. According to a recent study published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, the average smart phone user checks their phone 34 times a day out of habit. That’s 34 opportunities to make an impression. Of course, it is important not to saturate their feeds with superfluous posts. But if you are posting every few days, you have ample opportunity to make a positive impression. And if your content is compelling enough for your followers and fans to share with friends, your reach is amplified.
4) The price is right. Unlike many forms of marketing, social media channels are free to use. There is no cost to start a Facebook page, a YouTube Channel, a Twitter account, or a Pinterest profile. Social media has leveled the playing field by removing many of the financial barriers that once existed between consumers and small business owners.
5) Whether you believe it or not, you do have the time. Once you’ve invested a few hours setting up your accounts and learning the basics, you can manage your social media presence in less than ten minutes each day. If you have a smart phone, you can update your social channels from virtually anywhere, which allows all sorts of opportunities for multi-tasking. Tweet while you’re eating breakfast, post to your Facebook page while you wait in line at the bank. You don’t need to find more time in your day – just make better use of the time you already have.
Ready to take the leap? Start by logging on to Facebook and setting up a page for your business. The interface is very intuitive. Once you feel confident, consider graduating to Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. Don’t be afraid to experiment! There are lots of resources online to help social media newbies get started. Mashable.com has a wealth of information for those starting out as does PC Magazine. Of course, the easiest way to learn is to find a teenager or twenty-something to show you the ropes.
Of course it seems daunting, but consider what it takes to be a farmer or food producer – you’re undoubtedly cut from tough, capable cloth. Take the leap and give social media a try!
Before ditching the corporate fast-track, Alison Kosakowski spent a dozen years designing marketing and communications plans for Fortune 500 companies in the NYC-area. Today she lives on a dairy farm in Richmond, Vermont, and works at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. In her free time she helps her husband on the family farm, tends to her garden, and teaches farmers about marketing and social media. Follow her on Twitter @vtfarmgirl. To learn more, contact Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of Alison Kosakowski