When you think about advocating for agriculture, do you get hung up on what you think you should be doing? Are you constantly thinking, “I know I should be telling our farm story, but what exactly to consumers want to know? And how do they want to see it?”
I get hung up, too, overthinking the issues and trying to make things perfect. But most people don’t want perfect. They want something real. Here are four things to help you get started if you’re stuck.
1. Post videos and photos of farm life
Social media now is more than a status update. It’s a visual entertainment channel (it’s like TV with commentary). The way to get your message across is to film or photograph your exotic life. You may think that “exotic” is too strong of a word but remember 88 percent of Millennials live in metro areas and see the farm as an escape or alternative reality from the city.
Facebook Tip: Video vertically or square and go live if you can. Try to entertain people.
Instagram Tip: Video vertically or square and be near the animals or large equipment. Beautiful photos are appreciated. Use popular hashtags outside of ag to showcase your content with other people.
YouTube Tip: Film horizontally and go live if you can. Talk more about how things work.
Twitter Tip: Video vertically and try to entertain people. Use popular and relevant hashtags to showcase your content. Do not make up hashtags (unless it’s for fun).
PRO TIP: If your followers/fans are engaging, be ready to respond quickly. This can keep the conversation going and it notifies the social media algorithms that the video/photo is important, causing it to reach more people’s feeds.
2. Answer questions
People are asking lots of questions about dairy farming on Google, and you can find out what they are by typing into the search bar and watching the Autocompletes. Here’s what people want to know:
- How are the cows treated?
- How long are they milked?
- Do you use hormones or antibiotics?
- What do cows eat?
- Where do the cows live?
- Why do you take care of cows?
Facebook Tip: Using Facebook Live is a great way to answer questions from consumers. Set up an event to do the video, and invite your followers to it.
Instagram Tip: Use Instagram stories to answer questions by using its “Ask Questions” feature. Use polls and meters to interact with fans. Save the videos off to upload into the main feed.
YouTube Tip: Use the comment section to get them to ask questions.
Twitter Tip: Use Q1: and A1: to help people keep track of questions and answers. Use a system like Tagboard to pull all the conversations into one area for you to see.
3. Share the best photos, videos, status updates from other farm pages
Consider helping the pages of other farmer and ag organizations by sharing and/or commenting on their posts so they can reach more people and keep the posts higher in people’s feeds. Use and follow hashtags that your audience uses as well as other farmers.
Did you know that if you share their stories within private groups and Facebook Messenger that it gives the posts more power?
Facebook Tip: Share positive ag stories (especially dairy) and join conversations on the farmer’s pages so consumers can meet more farmers.
Instagram Tip: Repost (Instagram app) other farmer content and/or use the Instagram Stories to share others’ stories in your stories.
YouTube Tip: Subscribe to other farm’s video and when they post, make sure to leave a comment.
Twitter Tip: Like and retweet other positive ag stories.
4. Join their groups
I know it’s fun to hang out and talk ag inside the large ag groups online, but that’s not where you’ll meet the average consumer. It’s better to join their groups where you have a passion, such as sports, parenting, cooking, or technology. People will get to know you and trust you as a group participant, making it easier to become their trusted expert on ag.
Facebook Tip: Closed or private groups is where much engagement happens.
Instagram Tip: Follow topical hashtags on your passion and make sure you are posting to that hashtag as well.
Twitter Tip: Join Twitter chats that aren’t focused on ag (do the ag ones as well but just add some more).
Overall tips in handling yourself like a pro and building trust in agriculture
- Help others first. Be there to share their content, answer their questions and make them laugh. In return, they will follow you and will be there for you when you need them.
- Schedule some time for social media. Start with 10 to 20 minutes a day and remember to schedule it — things that make it onto your calendar usually get done. In general, many people check their social media several times a day but are mostly active and engaging at lunch, late afternoon, and early evenings.
- Don’t try and do all the networks at once. Pick the one you like and your audience uses and dig deeper.
- Don’t rant or be a “Debbie Downer.” Negative posts garner initial attention but fade quickly. People will brand you as negative and will get tired of it.
- Don’t overshare. Understand that social is your best self. You can mix pleasure and work, but there’s a balance to maintain.
- Be careful about joking about things that consumers could get the wrong impression of.
Use these tools with passion but caution. Remember, you are creating a digital diary of your life that others will visit long after you are gone.
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