5 Tips for Farmers Using Social Media
In July I was asked to speak about social media at a board meeting for the North Coast chapter of the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). I didn't have much time, so I choose five tips to hone in on why brands in the farming industry should use social media as a marketing tool for thier businesses... Especially farmers who sell through farmers markets, local retailers and through their own farm stands.
In the past (many) farmers didn't have to rely on marketing efforts if they worked with farmers markets or retailers. They would let others do the marketing for them. But now farms have the opportunity to connect directly with consumers. To get them excited to find a very specific product (yes, I'm looking at you Dry Creek Peaches).
1. Choose social networks that support your brand image.
Marketers think that they need to be on every social network to make an impact online, and that is definetly not the case. You should be on the social media sites that your CUSTOMERS are also on.... and in addition, use the networks that you enjoy using the most, this way you will be more inclined to be excited to share content, and connect with people.
- You don’t have to be on Twitter, or Snapchat if you don’t want to be. Twitter is great for national brands who focus heavily on customer service (i.e., Cisco, Jet Blue, Kellogs), but if you are trying to connect with locals in your area, you are in the wrong network. As for Snapchat, it is great if you want to connect with younger Millennials and if you really enjoy using the tool... Otherwise, it will take time away from connecting with your target audience on other networks.
- Find out where your customers are by asking them which networks they use (or if you want new customers, find out where they are online). You can do this by asking them via an email survey (<3 Survey Monkey), or in person when you see them next.
2. Be Consistent.
Your brand image is everything. It is sometimes why people choose your brand over someone else's (okay, or the opposite) and so your online branding should match your offline brand image so people know what to expect. Here are a few ways to stay consistent:
- Keep the same name, profile, pic, imagery, and look across your social profiles.
- Pick a Look & Feel that makes sense for your brand (if you don't know how to do that, I would absolutely love to help you with building a social media branding strategy).
- Pick 5 THINGS that make your brand YOU, and consistently showcase them in your social media content.
- In addition to visuals, pay attention to your voice. The tone of your brand should fit YOU. Don't confuse people by presenting your voice very buttoned up, and perfect online and then be down to earth in person - people want to connect with real people, not corporations.
3. Social Media = Community + Photography
So many brands focus so heavily on creating content for social media that they forget the social aspect of marketing. Yes, having great photography and a consistent look & feel is important - but I would say, creating a community and engagement is even more important.
- Connections matter more than great photos. Don’t just share and ignore people. THAT is where the true beauty of Social Media lays.
- Set a timer so you don’t get sucked in. 15 minutes a day can be all you need to connect with customers who comment on your own stuff, as well as connecting with them on their own content.
- Hashtags: use a mix of generic and local hashtags to connect with people. Post your pic, use hashtags - and also connect with others using that hashtag.
- Offer content and community, not a sales pitch. People will keep coming back to a brand they like, versus using a coupon or a sale once and forgetting about them. This is the difference between a BRAND and a BUSINESS.
4. Photography through your phone.
Photography has become more important and social media marketing than ever before. Sometimes it's the first connection that people have with your brand. So you want to make sure to tell the right story. And not use mediocre content
- Practice using the native smartphone app.
- Edit photos to make them match your brand.
- Take lots of photos.
- Keep practicing.
- Remember the 5 THINGS that make your brand YOU.
5. Social Media is not free anymore.
When I first started working with brands in social media marketing in 2007 everything was so new and we were really only talking to the early adopters. 10 years later (YUP! 10 years), social networks have become the norm. In order to get through the noise, brands need to treat social media like any other marketing platform they are using and invest in it.
- Paid ads go a long way. Facebook ads can connect your brand with your target audience like no other paid marketing can
- Take time to develop a strategy (aka a branding plan) and you will be able to see your social media marketing efforts go further than if you were just randomly posting without having a goal in mind.
- Schedule posts - Buffer is my fave. Use Hootsuite, Sprout Social. Or a tool called Later for just Instagram.
So many marketers I talk to STILL think of social media as “just another thing they have to do.” In this digital era, it is one of the best ways to connect with customers and get the word out about your brand. You just have to put some effort and thought into it.