Social media has revolutionized how people search for and access information.  It has also become one of the most powerful (and cheapest) of marketing channels.  Today we take the 3 most popular social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - and look at how you can build thriving social media pages that drive buzz and traffic to your farm, without taking up too much of your valuable time.



Facebook: The New Phone Book

Facebook's layout allows you to post a variety of information that is easily accessible to viewers from the moment they click your page.  Therefore, your Facebook page is the social media platform that is most like a phone book entry.  You'll find spots to write a short description of your farm, your opening hours, and location and contact details.

You are also able to "pin" a post so that it remains at the top of your page, above more recently-published posts.  Anything you want passersby to see even if they're only on your page for a minute, pin it!  This can include special event info, your latest shop hours, etc.

While Facebook isn't as popular as Instagram anymore, it is the platform that is most consistently popular among all age groups (as we will see, Instagram is massively important to the under-29 age group but dramatically less so with their elders).  This, along with its accessible information, makes it a must-have in your farm's online arsenal.


Instagram: The Photo Album

Of these 3 platforms, Instagram is the fastest-growing and most popular with younger generations.  The engagement level is the highest too - with 21 times the engagement level of Twitter and 1.58 times that of Facebook.  This means that Instagram is the platform on which you're most likely to attract likes, comments, and people sharing your business within their own posts. Farms and this photo-sharing site also mesh perfectly together, as growers are surrounded by buzz-worthy shots all day long: from stunning early-morning sunsets, vibrant fruits and vegetables, and peaceful country landscapes.  A picture tells a thousand words, so a well-stocked Instagram page can tell tomes about what makes your farm wonderful and unique.

After you've snapped a great shot, one of the most important keys to excelling at Instagram is getting creative with your hashtags!  As well as your farm's name and town/county name, include hashtags ranging from the specific (#clingstonepeach) to the big-picture (#farmersfeedtheworld).  It also helps to take advantage of popular trending hashtags - tagging your fruit and vegetable shots with the enormously popular #vegan and #plantbased hashtags, for example, can help attract big engagement boosts.  Instagram gurus recommend you add 10-30 hashtags to every photo - a helpful tip is to write up a list of standard hashtags and keep them in your phone's Notes app for easy copy-and-pasting.  If you hit writer's block or want to know the most popular hashtags related to a certain keyword, use a hashtag generator like this.  

Help your visitors help you by posting signage letting them know your account names and hashtags, and make it easy for them to find shareable shots.  An example is a fun height measuring board beside which visitors can pose and take photos, or wooden photo booths - of course, make sure to have your farm's account name and hashtag somewhere prominently displayed.

Instagram is currently the most popular social media platform in the world, but its demographics are skewed with 55% of its user base between the ages of 18 and 29 and only 15% above the age of 50.  Needless to say, however, Instagram is only going to become more important to growers' online presence as time goes on - that, along with its gift for story-telling, makes it another social media must-have.


Twitter: The Diary

Finally, there's Twitter.  On this platform, you can customize your account page to include a short description of your farm, your location, and a website.  It also has a pinned post feature like Facebook, so you can keep the latest important news message or longer description of your farm (as long as it's under Twitter's 280 character limit!) pinned at the top of your page.  However, this is where its capability as an information depository ends.  Twitter shines, rather, as a sound-byte collection for passing thoughts and remarks.  You may think of it like this: anything that doesn't warrant a full Facebook post can work great on Twitter.  It is this author's recommendation, as well, that you connect accounts/use a social media planner (as discussed below under All Platforms) so that every post you make on Instagram and Facebook (or an excerpt of it - that 280 character limit is a tough one) also ends up on Twitter.

Twitter's value to growers' social media strategies is less easily-defined than informative Facebook and attention-grabbing Instagram.  However, it is still a highly-popular social media platform, and there is inherent value in having your farm occupy a space in one of the most-frequented areas of the Internet.  By using connected accounts or social media planners, you can make Twitter an effortless adjunct to your social media strategy.


Tips For All Platforms

Be active:  An active page with lots of recent content is a more impactful one.

Be engaged:  Support your fellow growers by following their pages and leaving likes and comments on their posts.  Not only is it a nice thing to do, but this online goodwill helps spark and foster grower connections and also helps attract engagement to your pages in return.

Share plenty of photos of your farm and farm life:  People enjoy learning about where their food comes from, and a photo can really get across the beauty of your harvest much better than words can!

Identify your audience's high times:  While most people are active on social media on weekdays at lunchtime and after 5pm, every poster needs trial-and-error to figure out the times of their day and days their specific audience is most active.

Connect your accounts OR use a social media planner:  You don't want to spend all day hunkered over your phone.  By connecting your accounts (you can find the option by going to the Settings of your various platforms) you can arrange for your Instagram posts to also be shared to your Facebook and Twitter, and vice versa.  Alternatively, you can employ social media planners, like Hootsuite, which allow you to schedule posts and send identical posts to all of your social media pages in a single swoop.

Thank you for reading this week's blog post!  Do you have any tips you'd like to share on how to build successful social media pages?  Feel free to share your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages!


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