Social Media for Ag Business: How Can You Use This Tool?
There are several different ways that social media can be used for your ag business. This video provides an overview of how social media is used by the public, discusses six ways you can put social media to work for your ag business, and the benefits you can see from social media use.
- [Sarah] If you are just setting up social media for your farm business or perhaps have had an account and weren't sure what to do with it, this video will provide an overview of the ways you can use social media as a marketing tool for your farm business.
The emergence and growth of social media and its use by businesses has changed the fabric of marketing and expectations by the public and consumers.
Where once a farm business had tight control on the messages and image that were produced and presented to consumers in the public, social media has created and demanded more transparency.
People want a more personalized experience with you and to be able to communicate with you in the same places that they're spending their time.
Beginning in the early 2000s, social media sites began to be established and gained traction with the public.
Over time, the number of social media sites available to you to use has grown and continues to do so.
Shown here is a timeline of a select set of social media sites and when they were first established.
In addition to the increasing number of different social media sites, the features of individual sites continues to evolve and become more sophisticated.
According to Pew Research Center's most recent social media survey, 69% of adults in the US are now using at least one social media site.
While the rate of growth in social media use has slowed since 2014, it does continue to grow, particularly among the boomer generation.
Now if we look at social media use broken down by the most popular sites, Facebook and YouTube stand out as being the most used as reported by Pew Research Center.
However, it's important to know who you want to connect with on social media because social media use vary some by different demographic groups.
For instance, Pew Survey shows that teens ages 13 to 17 reported using YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat more than Facebook.
This will be an interesting group to watch in the coming years to see how their social media use evolves.
So why do people use social media?
In a late 2017 survey by Global Web Index, some of the top reasons people indicate for their use of social media sites include staying in touch with friends and family, following news and current events, entertainment, sharing photos and video, sharing their opinions, and researching and finding products to buy.
With the exception of staying in touch with friends and family, keep the rest in mind as we go through the following slides on how you can use social media for your business.
Social media has become probably one of the first places people turn when they want to learn about a business.
As a farm business wanting to connect with your community and customers, you have a brand and you can use social media to build and share that brand.
People want to know and connect with the personality and values that you represent.
Social media also provides you with an opportunity to connect, communicate, and engage with the public and customers in a way that you may not be able to on a daily basis.
Communications can range from answering simple or in-depth questions to sharing your ag story to sharing events that you are hosting.
Some of the most popular content is often that which shows what you do on an everyday basis.
Think about the format for the content you post too.
Facebook for example gives higher priority to video and pictures over text when determining what to display in users' news feeds.
And don't forget about connecting and engaging with other farmers and ag industry professionals.
On Facebook for example, there are numerous interest groups that you can join to network with other farmers or people in your industry.
There are so many different examples of how you can communicate and engage with people on social media.
The key is to be open and post regularly.
Look at how you want to build your brand and reputation and spend some time looking at other business and organizations' social media profiles for ideas.
While many businesses may have initially come to use social media with the intent to sell their products, over time it has become clear that selling really shouldn't be a primary focus with content posts.
In fact, surveys have shown that posting too many promotions on social media is the number one reason people will stop following a business.
Instead, view product or service sales as a strategic byproduct of connections and engagement.
That is, establish goals for your social media use around greater engagement with followers, providing or improving customer service, or improving the value of your posted content.
Then decide how you can strategically inject product promotion posts.
Most social media sites also have features that you can use to advertise and sell your products through their sites.
Social media has made it much easier for people to share their experiences with businesses, products, and organizations with a wide audience.
It's easier now too to know what people are saying about you.
In addition to what people may comment or message to you directly on your social media presences, there are a wide variety of third party sites such as Yelp and Google that allow people to comment on their experiences with your farm business.
Individuals may also tag you in their posts or use your farm name as a hashtag.
With a social media presence, you have the option and ability to listen to what's being said about you on these different sites and deciding whether and how to respond.
Customer service on social media or social service is an area that has really experienced growth in recent years.
Surveys have indicated that anywhere from 47 to 67% of consumers are now using social media sites for customer service activities.
Additionally, 88% of respondents to one survey said that they would be less likely to do business with someone who didn't answer questions on their social media pages.
It can be easy to concentrate on developing and posting content to your social media accounts, but then forget to come back and answer questions or concerns.
It can also be scary to think about handling complaints in such a public place.
But by embracing social media customer service, you can set your farm business apart from the competition.
Just as your consumers use social media to research businesses and products, you can use social media for market research, industry news, consumer insights, and even competitive research.
Most industry organizations and publications have a presence on at least one social media site.
It can be a convenient place to access information that perhaps you traditionally received via newsletter or magazine with the added benefits of discussion through post comments or the ability to more easily share news and information with your networks.
Quick surveys of your followers is also made relatively simple through social media.
You can ask for comments, reactions, or set up a poll to have people choose an answer.
Over the past few minutes, we've covered how you can use social media for your farm business.
Done thoughtfully and strategically, you should experience these benefits.
Increased recognition, your use of social media can set yourself apart from other farm businesses.
People, whether the general public or consumers, will think of you first and have a better understanding of your products, services, and place in the community.
Richer customer experiences, if you are focused on engagement with followers on social media, you are creating a richer experience for them that people value, particularly from small and agricultural businesses.
Improved loyalty, rich, positive customer experiences very often lead to consumer loyalty.
If you have customers that keep coming back to you, you are likely to see that reflected in your bottom line.
Better search engine rankings, search engines incorporate social media presence and activity into their search result rankings.
Being active on social media can help to improve where your business or organization appears in those results.
Improved consumer insights, engagement can provide you with valuable insight to how consumers think and feel not only about your products or services, but also about issues.
These insights can help keep you on the leading edge trends that impact your business decisions.
Now that we've discussed how social media can be used, how will you use it?
The possibilities are endless and continually evolving.
But remember having a plan will turn your social media use into success so check out our recorded webinar on developing a social media strategy to take the next step.
Frequently Asked Questions