Social media can be an effective way to market your farm business. If you plan it right (and if you have adequate internet connection), you will have the ability to show loyal and potential customers your products without having to leave your farm. Investment doesn’t need to be expensive, either. You can work with just a smartphone and free apps, or invest in state-of-the-art equipment—with the right strategy and a dash of luck, both can be equally efficient.
I’ve interviewed a lot of farmers who have either successfully used social media to reach customers or have become influencers themselves. Here are some common strategies I’ve noticed:
The best tools are what you have at the moment. You don’t need to have the fastest computer or the most up-to-date vlogging equipment. You can start with what you have, even if it’s just a smartphone and a social media account. Some people have even made money without owning a business! A plant shop owner told me about how his neighbors will take photos of what’s available in his shop and post them on social media. When they get an order, they buy the plant from his shop and ship it to the customer. He doesn’t mind that they do this because in the end, it’s still a sale for him.
Give followers a peek into your world. Marketing isn’t about selling a product but about emotionally resonating with your customers. Don’t just show your followers your finished products. Take them through your production process as well. Show them that there are humans on the other side of the screen. If you are brave enough, show them the ups and downs of farm life. People are more likely to support businesses they have an emotional stake in. But if you go this route, remember that you’re building a community, not just looking for warm bodies to sell to. The farmers who have done this have ended up with not just customers, but also a lot of friends.
Don’t be afraid of video. A lot of the agriculture influencers we’ve profiled gained their following through vlogging. While many of them post their content on YouTube, which allows for long-running videos that are perfect for how-tos and extended farm tours, there’s also an audience to be captured on platforms that specialize in shorter videos like Instagram and TikTok. Whichever format you choose, make sure you understand the conventions within it. For example, YouTube videos are commonly shot horizontally while Instagram and TikTok videos are ideally shot vertically. For shorter videos, shooting and editing can be done on a smartphone. For longer ones, you’ll need a computer and editing software to give your video a professional look.
Don’t be a slave to trends. Trends will come and go, but good content will last a long time. While it’s okay to spice up your content with something trendy once in a while, it’s consistent and coherent content that’s aligned to your farm’s brand that will attract people on a regular basis. Even if all you do is post photos of your products, ensuring that each post adheres to a specific look and feel via layout, color palate, copy, and so on will give your brand a feel of stability and make it familiar to loyal and potential customers.
Consider ads. While I haven’t interviewed someone who has talked about running advertisements on social media yet, we’ve all come across them and sometimes, they’ve convinced us to buy. Do this only if you have the funds for it and if it fits into your overall marketing strategy. Ads can be useful because some social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have algorithms that limit the reach of organic posts. Running ads not only gives businesses more reach, they can also make sure that they reach their target audience. Since running ads cost money, only consider this as part of a bigger marketing plan and make sure that each ad you run is well thought out and professional looking. And if you do decide to run ads on social media, periodically check your stats to see if your ads are generating the results you desire.