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Connecting with Millennials about Food and Farming

Food videos are hot on YouTube right now. Research from Google, Millward Brown Digital and Firefly indicate that millennials are tuning into videos about food, creating a whopping 280% growth in food channel subscriptions over the past year.

 

How Farmers can Engage the YouTube Foodie Audience

Farmers can and should use the interest in YouTube food videos to their advantage. With consumers turning to online sources to find out about food, it is essential for farmers to ensure they are posting content and educating people about farming in the online realm. Sure, it is great to be able to talk to people face to face about the food you grow but the reality is that people are spending a significant portion of their time online, so it is important that you are interacting with them in the digital space where they hang out. Knowing that millennials are spending such a huge amount of time on YouTube learning about food, it makes sense for farmers to make YouTube videos about food and farming. Maybe you could make a video about the process it takes to get beef from the farm to a burger. Or, you could just create a video talking about why you love being a farmer and growing food for people.

Here’s a great example of a farmer providing smart consumer education about agriculture on YouTube. Watch Matt Muller‘s farm video below:

 

 

Link photo courtesy of Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ

 

12 Social Media Lessons I Learned Down on the Farm

There’s something rather romantic about farms. At least from an outsider’s perspective. Many of us dream of escaping the hustle and bustle of city life, or the monotony of suburbia, with a desire to “work the farm.” I admit I’ve had those notions at times, and from my front porch in Lancaster, I only have to drive a few miles to leave the city behind and find myself driving past fields.

And believe it or not, social media and farming have a lot in common:

1. It’s not easy, it’s a commitment – When you drive by a farm it looks peaceful and romantic. But I’m sure an insider’s perspective might be different. It may look easy, but farming is a lot of hard work and long hours. It’s a commitment. In the same way, because many of the tools are free and accessible, social media looks easy. Think again.

2. Cultivation is needed – A farmer doesn’t just plant seeds and sit back. The farming process is year round, from prepping the soil, to sowing, cultivating, fertilizing, all the way to the harvest. In the same way, don’t just create a Facebook page and believe that you are doing social media. If you don’t cultivate and work the fields, don’t expect any meaningful harvest.

3. It takes time – Every crop has it’s own growing season, and you never plant seeds and get results overnight. While that cultivation is taking place, it takes time. Too many people jump into social media with the idea of getting the word out overnight. In some rare cases that can happen, but that’s the exception and not the rule. social media is an ongoing process, not a once and done proposition.

4. Don’t forget the intangibles – Not everything is under your control. You might be able to control some variables, but one of the biggest factors in growing a good crop is the weather. Too little rain, too much rain, too much heat, too much cold, hail, etc. All of these can have a major impact on the end result. Some of them you can compensate for, but not all of them. With social media you need to realize that some factors are out of your hands, and you need to expect the unexpected.

5. Keep a watchful eye – Monitoring is very important.Farmers not only keep their eye on the weather, but on the plants, pests, possible diseases, etc. Monitoring your social media program is a rigorous process. Checking in once a week probably won’t cut it.

6. Try a variety of things – Most farmers will grow more than just one thing. And they will rotate their crops. If you do the same thing in the same place over and over again, it might not work. Just because it worked last time doesn’t mean it will work this time. Try different things across different social platforms.

7. Sometimes they just don’t grow! -No matter how hard you try, sometimes the plants just don’t grow. This is because there are so many variables. But the beauty is, while you may experience a loss, you can always start over from scratch. With social media, if what you try doesn’t work, just move on. Don’t spend time wringing your hands and worrying, and certainly don’t make that dangerous leap that if one thing didn’t work, then social media must not work. Learn your lessons and move on.

8. Know your climate – If I tried to grow tropical fruit in my yard, I’d have little or no success. There is nothing wrong with the soil, the water, or the seeds, but the climate just isn’t right. In the same way, with social media, know your audience. Just do your research ahead of time and you’ll be better off.

9. There’s no one right approach – In farming, there is no formula. Different farmers have different approaches. What matters most is the end result: good crops. Just because something works for one person, doesn’t mean it will for another. While we can learn a lot from each other, just mimicking someone else’s social media strategy and methods doesn’t guarantee you success.

10. The process is also important – While I just said that what matters most is the end result, I’m now going to seemingly contradict myself. I also think the process is very important. Some farms use chemicals and artificial means to make sure they get the “best” possible crops. Some of these chemicals fight disease and bugs, while others seek to “enhance” the final product. But then there is the more natural, organic approach. Some might argue, but I believe that in farming, the end result is better when using that organic approach. In social media, and particularly in the area of SEO, there are a lot of little artificial things you can do to get a leg up on the competition. But again, I believe that the more organic and natural approach is best. People will offer you methods of getting “1,000 followers on Twitter overnight!” but is that really what’s important? The organic approach might take a bit longer, and the yield might not be as large, but in addition to good results, we need to be doing things the “right” way.

11. Do you know what you’re doing? – I’m not a farmer. Give me an acre of land and some seeds and I will fail. I know nothing about farming. A smart farmer would never turn his crops over to me. To whom are you entrusting your social media and marketing program? Too often I hear of businesses turning their social media over to “my teenage nephew” or someone similar because “they do that Facebook thing.” If your business and brand are important to you (and I’m assuming they are), think long and hard about who you want handling your social media. That might mean finding the right person in-house or perhaps hiring someone from outside to help you out.

12. You need to keep up with technology – Farming may be as old as the planet, but times change. New technologies come on the scene that can enhance the process. Social Media is also ever-changing. If you don’t keep up, you’ll get left behind. If you threw all your eggs in the MySpace basket, you’re in for a rude awakening. Platforms change and that can dictate how we conduct our business.

I’m sure there are plenty more analogies I could make but these are the important ones that stand out. In some ways, the key to social media is to view it not as a technology or software interface, but as a living, breathing organism. It’s about people and communities.

How are you cultivating and growing your social media strategy?
Article courtesy of Ken Mueller from Inkling Media, Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike

Link photo courtesy of SEO

5 Steps to Telling Powerful Farm Stories

Connecting with consumers about farming is important. These days people really care about where their food comes from and how it gets from your farm to their plate, so it’s essential that you learn how to provide them with that information. A great way to share how life really is on your farm and how you produce the food that you sell is to tell your story.

However, it’s not enough just to tell your story, you need to learn how to tell it. We all know what it’s like to listen to a good story teller and also what it’s like to listen to a bad story teller. The difference in technique can either create a real connection with listeners or conversely cause listeners to walk away completely unchanged.

In this article we show you can be the former story teller, and create stories that connect with your audience and leave the listeners excited about your topic.

Made to Stick” authors, Dan Heath and Chip Heath, state that there are five things you must do to ensure your story “sticks” with consumers:

  1. Simplicity;
  2. Unexpectedness;
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional

 

  1. Simplicity

The first step is to be simple. Though this sounds deceptively easy, when you have a vast amount of knowledge about a subject it can actually be quite hard to do. The idea is to strip down your subject to its most critical essence. You should not be dumbing down the subject but rather you should give the listener, “just enough information to be useful.” As the authors state in the book, “when you say three things you say nothing.” Therefore it’s important to just stick to one core idea and ensure you communicate it in the most concise way possible.

  1. Unexpectedness

The second step is to do something unexpected. People are wired to notice change and disregard regularity. So, when people are expecting a particular line of thinking or sequence of events they often tune out. This is why it’s crucial to create surprise in your story. To do this the authors suggest breaking down your audience’s guessing machine. One way to do this is to use the gap theory of curiosity (ie: triggering people’s curiosity by creating a gap between what they know and what they want to know) and then using your story as a means to tell them the answer. If you would like some inspiration on what this might look like, check out Derek Halpern’s article on the subject over at Social Triggers.


  1. Concrete

The third step is to communicate in concrete and relatable language. If you want people to understand what you’re talking about you should communicate in a way that they understand. and this means not defaulting to industry terminology. The authors suggest utilizing the “velcro theory of memory.” The idea is that similar to a piece of velcro, your brain has many different loops so the more “hooks” an idea has the better it will cling to your memory.

  1. Credible

The fourth step is credibility. This should be the easiest step for everyone, afterall YOU are the farmers, so you should be the authority on farming and food production. To help you along the way consider how you can boost your credibility with these tips:

  • give vivid details (studies have shown that people are more receptive to ideas if they are given some details to imagine)
  • if you use stats – ensure that they show a relationship. This is really important since people won’t remember a number but they will remember a relationship between numbers.
  • Analogies work. Draw on ideas that people are already familiar with to explain new things to them.
  1. Emotional

The final step is to tell your story with emotion. As the authors state, “when people are primed to feel as opposed to analyze they are more receptive towards your message.” So, how do we make people care about our story? The answer is to make the story about them and ensure that you create an association between the things that they care about and your message. People are people, and so you can never go wrong by making the story appeal to their identity. If you do this you will be better positioned to tap into their emotional side, rather than their analytical side.

So, those are the 5 steps you can take to telling a better farm story. Put them to use, and get out there are share your story. As I discussed above, people want to know more about where their food comes from and the farmers that feed them, so go create your story now and share it with the world. People are waiting to hear about it, and it will never get told unless you tell it.

Link photo courtesy of Jill Clardy