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Growing Your Farm Revenue Using Social Media


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Poster created on using social media to market a family farm for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference in 2012.

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Growing Your Farm Revenue Using Social Media

  1. 1. Grow Your Farm Revenue Using Social Media Presented By Sheree Martin, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism & Mass Communication Samford University Birmingham,Alabama Connect With Me Email: Blog: LinkedIn: Twitter: @ree_tweets Google+: “In all my years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like the demand for local food. It’s bigger than organic demand. People have this incredible interest in where their food is coming from and what they’re eating.” Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb Speaking to Rotman School of Management January 10, 2012 ViaYouTube Text, Photos* & Design: Copyright ©2012 Sheree Martin Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. *Freshfully photo ©Freshfully The author is not affiliated with any of the companies or service providers identified in this poster, other than as a user or consumer. engagement relationships fresh content trust social is about... sharing Broadcasting information is not social.Stale content is like limp produce. Update your content at least weekly to keep friends and fans coming back. Yes, you do. In fewer than 15 minutes each day you can: Respond to questions and comments posted to your Facebook page or blog. Take a picture of a plant, a flower, a calf or your fields and post it to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr or Picasa. It takes seconds. Most blog platforms allow you to post by email, so post that photo to your blog and add a sentence about what you’re doing. If you want to grow your business now and in the future, you don’t have time to ignore social. Just like crops, relationships require nurturing. Blogging is one of the best ways to share your knowledge and philosophy about sustainable agriculture and related topics. Many free blogging platforms are available, but the most popular and scalable is the open-source WordPress platform. Other possibilities include Posterous, Tumblr, Typepad and Blogger (a Google brand). WordPress is my primary blogging platform right now, but I also maintain a couple of blogs on posterous. A blog is a web log. You don’t need to write formal essays. You don’t even need to write complete sentences. Use your blog to share photos of your farm, livestock, crops, produce, flowers, clouds, your children or grandchildren. Share what matters to you. Remember, you’re building relationships with your readers. Video blogging is another way to create content easily and quickly. You can shoot a few minutes (or a few seconds) of video about planting season, harvesting, milking, making cheese--whatever you do. Upload the video to YouTube or Vimeo, using your phone, iMovie or similar software and then embed the video into a blog post. Usually, there’s no need to edit, but YouTube offers some basic editing tools, if you’re inclined to take the time. Your readers don’t expect you to be a Hollywood-level cinematographer. Decent lighting and decent audio are better than bad lighting and bad audio, but you can work on that as you develop skills. Don’t let fear or inexperience stand in the way of videoblogging. Longer blog posts are great, too, especially if you’re inclined to share ideas and like to write. Use these topic ideas to generate your own: Why do I farm? Why do I raise Black Angus cattle rather than another breed? (and many variations on the theme). Why do I let my chickens scratch around in the dirt and grass? What is my farming philosophy? Here’s why I take the time to save seeds…. How to prepare the fruits and vegetables you raise….. When it comes to blogging about food, you’d be surprised what will get attention. My blog post on “how to make fried green tomatoes” got several hits each week from June through October. If you build it, they will not immediately come…..It takes some time for people to find your blog. It helps immensely if you take the time to tag your posts with keywords that allow search engines to classify your post. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge part of today’s internet. SEO can be complex, but if you’re just starting out it’s important (for now) to tag your posts using the keywords and to share your posts via other social media platforms (like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, etc.) But for most farming operations, it’s not important that you are among the top 3 bloggers or websites in overall rankings. What’s most important is that the potential customers in your local area can find you and that you’re building a good relationship with those individuals. If you have a blog and you’re keeping it current, just start sharing your posts using other social media. And take some time, every week or so, to read and comment on another person’s blog or Facebook page. Leave your link and occasionally share their posts with your social media friends. As with most things, you get back what you give. Post regularly, share your content, share the content of others and, before long, you’ll have a steady stream of visitors to your blog. And you’ll be building customers and potential customers who know and trust that you will deliver top-quality products and service. Blogging listening reciprocity Facebook Social media lets you tell your story Facebook Pages for businesses offer the easiest way for customers and potential customers to find you right now. Facebook may not always be the pinnacle of social media but, for now, it’s the place to be. And like all the social media tools mentioned here, it doesn’t cost a penny to set up a Facebook Page. The “Like” button makes interaction and feedback easy. And, to help you measure what you’re doing, Facebook provides powerful analytical tools that help you learn more about your fans and friends. Facebook makes it easy to share your story with your fans and to share other information, as well. Facebook is also a great way to drive traffic to your blog or website. Twitter When it comes to building relationships, Twitter can be more time-consuming but it can also be more rewarding. A successful Twitter experience requires effort because you must follow, monitor, engage, share. Twitter is not about broadcasting a message, but rather it’s about building a core group of friends who interact and engage on topics of mutual interest. The key to success with Twitter starts with finding a core group of individuals that you find interesting, then read and share their tweets. Dive right in by sending out your own tweets, both original and links to interesting information. Use hashtags (example: #sustainable farming) to spread your tweets to a wider audience. Millions of people monitor Twitter streams by monitoring hashtags and that can lead to an increase in followers. Don’t worry about how many followers you have. You’ll be amazed by what it means to have 50 or 100 quality followers who are interested in your farm or your products, or who simply care about you and want to help share your message. But you need to care about them, as well, and reciprocate by sharing their tweets and links. Google+ Google+ is a new social platform that launched to a limited user group in July 2011 and then opened to the public in late Fall 2011. It’s not as big as Facebook, of course, but it reportedly has 40 or 50 million users after a mere 6 months or so. The main reason Google+ offers such great value for businesses right now is that items shared on Google+ get higher search engine rankings. What’s especially nice about Google+ is that you can set up “Circles” based on topics and interests. You can then share with friends in those circles, without having to share with everyone. For instance, a cheese artisan might have circles for customers and the general public and have a smaller circle for interacting with other cheese artisans. I’m an early adopter and a big fan of Google+ and I seem to get more value from what I read on Google+, compared to Facebook. So I think it’s worth exploring, although the value-added is still-to-be-determined for the average user and average business. Pinterest Pinterest is taking the social world by storm. Right now. It might be the hottest new platform around. Pinterest allows users to create vision boards (or “bulletin boards” in the analog lingo) and “pin” images and web pages to these boards. Users can follow users or simply “repin” items shared or collected by other users. As a business person, the impact of having your website or product “pinned” to someone’s board in Pinterest can be huge. And it seems to be a great way for farms to share images, recipes and ideas with other “pinners” who have an interest in sustainable agriculture. YouTube & Vimeo Now that it’s so easy to shoot and share video, YouTube or Vimeo should be a key part of your social media plan. YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine (after Google) so if you want your content to be found, put it on YouTube and tag it well. Set up a channel for your farm, post the clips and then embed them into your blog. And share the videos via Facebook and Twitter. Vimeo is a great video-sharing site, as well. The content there seems to be more professional or informative (fewer cute kitten/cute kid videos, perhaps). Check it out. But I Don’t Have Time