Question of the Week: Social Media for Farmers

by Susan Murphy

shutterstock_112976938This week’s question comes from Iain Robson of Ottawa. Iain is an ESL teacher with a passion for communication, creativity and connection. This weekend, he’s helping out around the family farm, and that’s what inspired his question:

“How would you suggest a farmer go about using social media in relation to a farmers market?”

Well, Iain, I’m so glad you asked! In fact, at Jester Creative, we’ve done a lot of social media work with farmers through our work with the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketers Association. We’ve given training courses and the one-on-one social media consulting sessions and helped farmers from all over Ontario ramp up their social media use to connect with customers, share stories and educate.

So, to answer your question, there are a number of ways that farmers who run either on-farm markets or who have a presence at local farmers’ markets can use social media to promote themselves.

There is a tremendous opportunity to raise the profile of locally grown fresh products online. The good news is, the conversation is already going on amongst those passionate about food. The “Foodies” are a HUGE community on social networks like Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The first thing I’d recommend to a farmer is that they go and do some searching. For example, I simply searched “Farmers Market” on Pinterest, and back came hundreds of images of gorgeous fruits and vegetables. If I had a presence at a farmer’s market or had an on-farm market, I’d spend some time here, collecting images and inspiration. I could set up my own Pinterest account and have boards for sharing recipes made with the products I sell, or even images of my market stall.

Another tool that I’d play around with is Instagram. It’s so easy to snap a few photos as you set up early on a Saturday morning, before people arrive, and entice people to come by and check out your products. You can instantly share your delicious photos to Facebook and Twitter too, and get even more reach.

Finally, figure out ways you can tell stories about what it is you do. As a farmer, you play a vital role in helping to educate people on the benefits of buying local, and on making healthy eating choices. Use the online spaces you create to do just that – from showing the process of harvesting corn to a day in the life of a dairy farm, there are so many fascinating things you can share that will help to educate and inform people in a compelling way.

There are plenty of great examples of farmers doing amazing things online. Check out Saunders Farm and their amazing web presence (and cool mobile app!). And definitely follow Trevor Herrle from Herrle’s Market on Twitter – he’s a force to be reckoned with, as he tweets from his tractor and shares his amazing farming life with the world.

These are just a few ideas for how farmers can use social media, but remember, taking a strategic approach is always wisest. If you want to talk more about how Jester Creative can help you build and implement your social media strategy, let us know!

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