Feb 11
2010
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Tips on Using Social Media For Farmers

We can feel the energy of the food movement but for many grass-fed producers it is hard to know exactly how to make the connection to it. There are many ways, and many of you are probably already successfully marketing yourself, your farm and products but if you are looking for other tools I think that social media is ideal. It can be a way of finding new customers, connecting with journalists and bloggers, helpful non-profits and other producers who can be a source of support and advice.
Why social media? Haven’t you heard? Everyone is online; with Facebook having almost 350 million users (each spending on average and hour on the site each day) and micro blogging sites like twitter changing how we dispense information there is a unique opportunity for your farm to broadcast it’s story. Not only that, YouTube has become the second most used search engine in the world and an important source of information and entertainment. With millions of Google searches daily, people are informing themselves and investigating food topics on their own—-this is why your opinions and experiences should be online, we need more farmer’s voices, teaching and connecting with Americans. With traditional media in a state of flux, there is a unique opportunity for farmers to market directly online, just like the big guys but in a real meaningful way. Americans are yearning for a connection to you as a farmer and also a more authentic understanding of what is on their plate and in their markets.

So how do I get started?

STARTING A BLOG
Blogging is the best way to start out using social media, it will help you fine-tune your narrative and learn from other bloggers. It will make you a better writer, understand how to interact with internet the community and most importantly create content for other platforms. Remember, even the most simple daily occurrences on the farm can be interesting!


Content is key, blog post topics can include:
  • Essays about your farm
  • Family recipes
  • Pictures
  • News from your farm
  • Your farming philosophy
  • Policy concerns

Ways to promote your blog

  • Find blogs you admire and comment.
  • Link to blogs you like.
  • Respond to comments on your blog.
  • Meet up with bloggers in your area.
  • Use other platforms to drive traffic to your site, like twitter and facebook.

How to set up a blog. I am one of the few established food bloggers that uses www.blogger.com but I really like it. It is free and easy to use. With that said, www.wordpress.com is a far more professional platform and if done well can also serve as a website. You can get a free version here but you will need to buy a web domain name to host the blog though on your own website address. There are many templates available online, and one that I have heard a lot of positive feedback on is thesis but you have to pay for it. Another I have heard positive things about is go daddy which will host your site as well. Again, www.wordpress.com requires a certain amount of web savvy to use but many bloggers swear by it!

FACEBOOK

Facebook has 350 million active users and each user averages an hour on the site: that is a lot of people spending a lot of time on Facebook, and this is why your farm should be too.

A Facebook page is an excellent way for a farm to forge an online following and connect with potential customers. It is a free source of advertising and a way to broadcast specials, product availability and news from your farm. Also, a Facebook page is easily updated and is not static like a website.

How to set up a page: Creating a new page is pretty straightforward.

•First, you need a Facebook account.

•On the bottom right hand of the site there is an “advertising tab (click on it),” then click on “pages.”

•Press, “create a page,” and fill in information about your farm; be sure to upload pictures.

•You do not need to go “live” right away, giving you time to learn about the page, upload pictures and create content.

•Once you do go live, you will want to get fans, so reach out to your personal network, ask them to become fans and spread the word.

Using your page: Creating updates on your page will help to bring people to it. You can also upload pictures, links and synchronize your account with Twitter. Remember, be yourself and share! Facebook is social and should be fun!

TWITTER

Setting up a twitter account:

Twitter is a micro blogging platform that also serves as a social networking tool. Twitter is a extremely functional website, and once you figure out the basics you will be tweeting like a marketing pro!

Setting up a twitter account is free and easy; I recommend a name that is similar to your farm; shorter names are best because they leave you more space to be retweeted! Remember, you only have 140 characters to tweet!

On twitter you can follow and be followed by other tweeters. It is like being a friend with someone on Facebook, but is has more to do with content. If you find a person’s tweets interesting, follow them, and if they find your tweets or site interesting they will follow you. The best way to start is to follow some bloggers or farmers you know, and learn from them.

What is an RT or Retweet? If you find someone’s tweet interesting you can RT or “retweet” their tweet. Interesting tweets can be RT’d many times and help you find like-minded people and new followers. I find that sharing links to my blog posts and interesting articles get a lot of RT’s.

Some quick tips: If you are interested in a topic or want to join a discussion you can add a # (the number sign) to any word which serves as a search for the word and links you to similar tweets. For instance, a lot of tweeters who are interested in sustainable agriculture will add the trending topic #profood to a post when they think a link will interest the community.

FLICKR AND YOUTUBE

Flickr is a photo-sharing site and serves as a networking platform and is pretty hip. There are a lot of photography enthusiasts and bloggers on the site.

Upload some photos on Flickr and share them on your Twitter, blog and Facebook page.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Tagging videos is key to finding an audience. YouTube Most digital cameras have a video function, and videos are surprisingly easy to create. Take a video of your farm animals or just talk about your farm.

Social media is a powerful tool and when used well it can create a lot of benefit for your farm. The best advice I can give is to try them and be patient, you will get the hang of it! Soon, you will be RTing your friends, linking to interesting articles and debating on the many designated discussions that the ag community rallies around and engaging with new customers!

Please visit my blog at Goldilocks finds Manhattan and follow me on Twitter @nycUlla.

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