Farmers ? Yes you bet !

I had the privilege of speaking at the Central Ontario Agricultural Conference a few weeks back and was very intrigued by the opportunity that exists for the farming sector in social media.

In a room of close to 40 people, I was first struck by how people were reluctant to see themselves as being engaged in “social media”. I was quick to remind them that prior to the formal channels of social media, they were likely some of the pioneers and drivers of what social was all about. Let’s face it, the traditional weekend “farmers’ market” is a pretty long-standing weekend “social” event for their business.

Farmers’ Market – It’s Social

If you take the concept of farmers’ market to the web – you have a wonderful platform for Farmers in Social Media.

I was also intrigued by the number of people in the audience (farmers as well as a collection of other small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs) who fully embraced the need for a website – but had not necessarily considered multiple channels in their social networks. It seemed to me like people felt that the website got their story out there. Where I see opportunity is telling the story through the utilization of social networking.

Start with Purpose

Naturally my first two premises for engaging in social media are:

A – Have a purpose for getting into social media and

B – ensure that you are going to commit to what resources you will need to do it well.
Please don’t do it because you read this prompt, and certainly don’t do it because someone said you should be on Twitter. YOU need to truly feel that building social networking into your marketing and word of mouth plan is done with purpose and outcome identified.

Some Examples

So Farmers? If you consider that many farms today rely on a mix of wholesale and consumer direct sales, there is a wonderful opportunity through social networks to get closer to and engaged with their audience. Depending on the farm product, there are quite possibly many audiences that already exist in farming. This article from BEEF back in 2012 was clearly pointing to the opportunity for cattle ranchers. Here is another great article from Australia that talks about livestock opporutnities in social media. It does speak a little bit about social media taking over traditional channels. I’m not going to get into that debate. What I will say is that social media can serve a role, within your overall integrated communications strategy. Another article compares how articles of the past in a specific trade magazine related to corn can be applied to how you converse through social media. The point being made here is about developing “trust”. “Agriculture More Than Ever” has some terrific resources for telling the agricultural story.

Find Your Conversation

One real advantage of social media is that you are actually engaging in a conversation. Let me re-phrase that. One of the opportunities of social media is that you can actually start to engage in a conversation. Through conversation, you can get to know your customer, supplier or associates. Through conversation, you will understand each others’ needs better. Through conversation, you will start to build trust and understanding. Isn’t it true that we tend to buy from those we trust? This is an advantage of social media for the farm community.

Accept the Nudge

So, I am calling all farmers to social media. Take a look at your online presence. See how you are performing in your particular category. How are your competitors showing up in this social media space? What are your customers saying about your business in this space? What conversations are taking place now on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram or through video posts on YouTube that you should consider being part of.

Here to Help

If you’d like a little coaching on these questions, I’m ready willing and able to help you out. Cheers to the next conversation that you find yourself in and I hope that it moves you towards new growth in your business. @FergDevins  @DevinsNetwork