Every piece of advertising matters for a small business, especially when it can be done for free or little cost. For dairy farms marketing their own products, social media is one way to reach potential consumers that can have a significant impact.
Dairy and meat are two of the food categories that a growing number of Americans are considering important to buy locally, shared Kara Riccioni during a webinar put on by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center. And a survey of nearly 1,300 shoppers showed that two-thirds research products online before shopping in person.
“About 55% of consumers learn about new brands or companies on social media alone,” continued Riccioni, the Center’s director of agricultural business development. Search engines also drive exposure, and those results will be supported by a social media presence.
How can we use this information for agricultural businesses? While we may be familiar with running personal social media accounts or pages focused on information, using these channels to advertise your products requires careful consideration and a commitment to consistency.
First, Riccioni advised deciding which platform is best for your business and your skills. If you feel most comfortable posting photos or videos, Pinterest, Instagram, or TikTok may be a better choice than Facebook or blogging. Once you make your accounts, she said to make sure your business name is clear in the page’s handles and use your logo as the profile picture for brand recognition. Use the description area to help visitors quickly see what your business offers.
When deciding what to post, Riccioni recommended agricultural businesses do more educating than selling. “People will look to you as an authority,” she said. This doesn’t mean posts need to be full of statistics, though; stories about your family and farm work just as well — if not better. “A lot of consumer decisions are feeling-based, so stories can produce that emotional trigger,” Riccioni added.
Be personable, use diverse types of content, and you can build a loyal following that can become advocates for your brand. Being engaged with your followers means you ask questions, include visuals and videos, and inject value into every post, said Riccioni. You can also share relevant content from other sources in your industry.
The timing of posts also affects its reach. Riccioni said Fridays, Wednesdays, or Mondays at 9 a.m., 7 p.m., or 10 a.m. are regarded as some of the best times to post. However, what matters is consistency. Make your posts regularly and recognize that each platform will have different best practices.
For Jodi Gauker, who markets her family’s beef on social media, the most important part of this type of marketing is to be authentic. “My followers all feel like they are part of our farm family. That is good and bad sometimes,” she laughed. It helps her community know what they are supporting and feel good about doing so.
She is also sure to include an educational bit in all of her weekly Facebook posts, saying that’s what makes her time on social media worthwhile. Without farmers telling their story, someone else will, Gauker concluded.