Even if we may prefer the company of cows or the peace of a field to the company of others, marketing is an undeniable part of operating a successful small farm or business.
Farm conferences around the country now regularly offer marketing and social media training specifically to help nudge the more introverted among us and to assist in honing those often-overlooked necessary skills. (The Northeast Beginning Farmer Project, for example, is offering an online winter class entitled “Effective Marketing for the Busy Farmer,” for those looking for something more in-depth than a conference workshop.)
These days you don’t need a background in web design to create an online presence for your farm or business. Popular social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have great potential for a fledging business, and many farmers are creating free or nearly-free websites with easy-to-use website packages.
Many farms, for example, use Facebook status updates or tweets to share their pick lists on market day or to advertise daily specials. Pinterest, on the other hand, is a good medium for sharing recipe ideas and photos (and nothing draws followers like cute farm animals!)
But Amy Sprauge of FARMIST, encourages farmers to consider expanding how they use the sites. Anything from a funny anecdote of farm life to an update about the Farm Bill negotiations could be included.
According to Sprague, it is also important to brainstorm how to reach new customers with social media, in addition to maintaining ties with existing customers. Sprauge suggests using the sites to search for groups in your area based on topics such as parenting, environmental conservation, or fitness, whose members probably also share an interest in healthy local food.
Setting up a profile on one of these sites only takes a few minutes and mobile apps also making posting updates from the market stand or field easy. Connecting with customers should be easier than ever.
We want to hear from you. Do you use social media to market your farm? Which sites do you find easiest to use or maintain? Leave a comment below sharing your best practices, ideas, questions, etc!