It used to be that you could take your produce to the market every weekend, sell it for cash, and come back to work the fields that evening. You’d forget about your customers entirely until the next weekend. That’s no longer the case. Today’s consumer expects companies of any size to engage with them – and that includes your farm. But promoting your farm and making sales through Facebook isn’t easy.
First, you need to learn the four principles of a successful Facebook campaign.
Your customers’ attention span is dwindling, and it doesn’t help thatyour farm is competing with literally hundreds of other Facebook accounts. While a good farmer needs to be able to do several things well, trying to do a variety of different things on social media will hurt more than it will help. You won’t be able to please everyone. If you’re a conventional farmer, the odds of winning over organic-only consumers are low. Focus on your target market.
Photo by Chris Smith
The early days of a Facebook marketing plan will give you the same feeling you get when you’re waiting for rain. Hours spent staring at the sky, fingers crossed for even a glimpse of a cloud. Social media marketing works on an exponential level. At the start, maybe one out of your fifty followers shares your picture of a baby calf. However, once you have one thousand followers, twenty or thirty people will share the same picture, resulting in way more eyeballs on your farm. Be patient.
You have to earn your audience’s attention, and you do that by providing value. With each post you make, consider what type of value you’re offering. You can break content value down into three basic types:
- entertaining, or
Informative content gives your audience information they didn’t know before. A quick post on why you can’t hop in the combine after it rains would fit. Entertaining content, such as a video of a barn cat hopping through hay bales, won’t educate your consumers but it’ll brighten their day. Finally, engaging content works by offering your audience opportunities to engage with your farm, usually through discounts and deals.
Photo by Helge Tenno
Build the Relationship
If someone walked up to you and asked you a question about your farm, would you ignore them? Refusing to respond to any Facebook posts is the Internet equivalent. By responding, you demonstrate to your audience that it’s worth their time to read your posts and comment. You don’t have to comment back, sometimes simply liking a customer’s thought is enough to build good will.
Photo by YDubel
Now that you know the core of a successful social media campaign, it’s time to develop your action plan. Here are five things you should do on your farm’s Facebook account.
- Use Clear Images
We’ve talked about marketing your farm with photos before. Time-strapped people are visual –they won’t read a two page description of a tornado, but they’ll comment on a photoof a wrecked barn. As an added bonus, pictures are far easier for your audience toshare. Use pictures of your farm to draw your consumers to your Facebook account.Think of it as the dinner bell that brings everyone running to the table.
- Show Your Farming Lifestyle
Using Facebook successfully means developing a relationship with your audience, and part of that relationship ties to your lifestyle. Maybe it’s just rained and you can’t go combining. Rather than posting about how you’re bored, make a post about how you’re spending time with your family because you can’t go combining. People are following your account because they want something different. Few of them will ever set foot on a farm, sogive them a glimpse into the farming lifestyle.
- Giveaways and Contests
A Synscape study found that 42% of people choose to “like” a Facebook brand in the hopes of getting a discount. Don’t disappoint them! Offer your customers discounts and giveaways for promoting your content on Facebook. For example, you could offer five free pounds of ground beef to a randomly selected person who shares your photo. Or perhaps anyone who “likes” you on Facebook is entitled to a 5% discount when it’s time to cash out.
- Caption Contests
Living on a farm gives you moments that will make you lose your hair and moments where you won’t be able to stop laughing. Maybe a kitten snuck into your truck when you were not looking and puts its paws on the steering wheel. Perhaps one of your farm hands is covered in mud after slipping from a horse. When things like that happen, take a picture and get your audience in on the fun. Give them the chance to write a caption for the photo, and throw a bottle of BBQ sauce to the best one – or whatever you want your farm to be known for.
- Ticking Clock Discounts
When you keep the clock ticking, you encourage people to act now rather than later. For example, if you announce a discount on raspberries, some people will be interested, but they might put it to the back of their mind and forget about it. If you tell them that for this weekend only, raspberries are 50% off at the farmers’ market – they’re a lot more likely to make the trip. Create a ticking clock to push customers past the tipping point.
Facebook and Farming
Don’t think of Facebook as something you’re obligated to do to keep up with other farms. Think of it as an opportunity to connect with your audience and bring them to your farm, at least on a virtual basis. Farming is a business of relationships, from family members helping out during the harvest, to your regular customers picking up a few chickens each year. Use these strategies on Facebook to build relationships that will last as long as you farm.
Link photo courtesy of mkhmarketing