Social media has been a phenomenon in the last few years. Facebook only started in 2004 – a decade ago. And look where it’s gone since! We’re using social media a little bit, and so I thought I’d write a blog post explaining why we’re using social media when we’re farming.
Social media and transparency
Social media can offer a great insight into a person’s life, but it can also provide a window for people to see what businesses or organisations are doing too. This is a great opportunity for farmers and those really connected to the land.
What makes social media great is that it can provide a reasonably accurate depiction of what really goes on. Farming has had its issues in recent times, with companies saying they’re doing one thing, but really doing another. If they had social media accounts, then they would find a great backlash from the community. Unfortunately many of the companies that are doing the wrong thing won’t have social media accounts and transparency within their operation. I believe that if you’re doing the right thing by treating animals fairly and being honest, then you will be rewarded in some sense. If you do the wrong thing, then social media can – and should – cause major problems.
Consumers are willing to believe what they read on marketing material. Words like “fresh” and “healthy” and “natural” don’t actually mean anything, but because the packaging looks good, they’re willing to buy it. We don’t have enough time to go and investigate every single label, so it means we give the benefit of the doubt to the company – and companies often take advantage of that. If they don’t they’ll find that their products won’t sell as well. An example of this is a dozen farm fresh eggs for sale at a local butcher. I’ll eat my hat if the butcher doesn’t take a cut – which means that the egg producer is selling a dozen eggs for barely anything. On the face of it, it would seem that those eggs were created in battery conditions, and I don’t think many people would consider battery eggs farm fresh.
Social media gives small farmers the chance to show what they do. There’s no faking and no manipulation. Showing people what is happening on the farm encourages a connection to that local farmer. It gives the farmer legitimacy and also welcomes new people to connect. Social media can provide an honest and trusting relationship between food grower and food consumer.
Social media and farm promotion
The dreams of many small scale agriculturalists rely on selling and connecting with their local community and this is exactly what we want to do at Heritage Farm.
Unfortunately, broad based marketing can be an expensive exercise with limited effect. Farms are often run on a tight budget, so any tool that can provide more bang for your buck will be warmly welcomed! At the moment we’re focusing on this blog and our social media accounts and giving our readers a relatively detailed and updated story each week. We think that if you’re willing to work hard, social media will only take up your time and won’t drain you of your money.
Social media can connect you with your customers and their friends (or connections). People ask their friends and family what services to use, and having a social media connection with people will give you a foot in the door (no matter how slight).
Social media can also be fun. While I know that it’s unhealthy to seek approval and validation via social media, I cannot help but enjoy watching people interact with Heritage Farm online. Watching our likes and followers go up brings a smile to my face. Once we’re able to more openly welcome people from the public, I imagine that I’ll get more satisfaction from interacting with people face-to-face. Until then, I’ll have to make do with online praise!
Heritage Farm’s social media
We’ve been trying to share our story and connect with others via our social media accounts. At the moment we have a Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ and also Instagram. My favourite would have to be Instagram because of its focus on great pictures, and I love looking at what other farms are doing across the globe. Farm produce and different farming methods can be very visual and its much easier informing people what is going on with a well shot photograph. Instagram also seems easier to update and share – all I need to do is take a nice picture with a note of what’s going on and then publish. Too easy, and it doesn’t take up too much time!
To be honest, I’m a little sceptical about Twitter and Google+, but I’ll keep putting updates through both of them and see how they go. I don’t think that what we’re doing will translate particularly well to either platform – but I’m happy to be proven wrong! In the future we might dabble with Pinterest – but for now our social media accounts are enough. We are sharing our experiences and connecting with others and that’s been really enjoyable.