June 29 2021 08:00 AM

Before jumping online, consider these tips and tricks.

Does your farm have a Facebook page? Maybe you’ve added Instagram, YouTube, or another social media channel to your business’s image. Whatever a farm’s preferred platform may be, advocating for agriculture online continues to become the norm as a growing number of community members and other consumers are interested in what’s happening on the farm and how their food is being produced.

Sharing our story is something dairy farmers are regularly called to do, and social media is an easy, effective way we can do that. But just as with all social media content, it’s important to present the best and most accurate information about agriculture. Online material has a long shelf-life, so not only does a thoughtful, informative post portray a good image of your farm now, it can also serve as a positive example of the industry for years to come.

To make the most of your farm’s social media account, there are a few considerations to keep in mind before you sign up. Kallie Coates, a freelance social media designer and marketer with agricultural experience, shared her top tips during a presentation at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Business Conference.

First is to determine what “success” will look like, Coates said. As with any endeavor, set a goal for your page. How many people would you like to engage with? Consider what is realistic but also what might be possible. You’ll be able to track this engagement through your chosen platform’s analytics features. That information will provide a picture of what kinds of content your followers respond to the best.

In the same vein, identify who your audience will be before you start posting, she added. It may include everyone from friends familiar with your farm to distant consumers looking up information about dairy products. Also think about what type of people you’re hoping to reach with your posts. Do you want to inform neighboring families about what they see happening on the farm? Are you trying to reach a broader base of consumers with the nutrition of dairy products or sustainability information? Maybe it’s some of both.

Laying out your goals and potential audience will help you choose what information you want to post. Is it photos of the cows being milked, links to industry stories, or maybe the details of your manure management system? Coates explained that you can then determine which social media platform will work best for what you want to do. For example, Instagram focuses on photos and short videos, YouTube provides a place for more detailed videos, and Facebook and Twitter are more geared toward sharing text or stories with images. Pick a site you’re comfortable with that will help reach your audience.

Finally, Coates said it can be useful to develop a plan for when you’ll post to keep your followers engaged and interested in what you have to share. Knowing ahead of time that you’ll need three posts for the week, for example, may encourage you to look for more photo opportunities instead of getting to the end of the week and not having anything to share.

Ultimately, a farm or agriculture social media page requires a time commitment to best portray your family, your farm, and your industry. If it’s a commitment you see value in and are willing to make, you can help consumers make more educated food choices while sharing your expertise (and probably some cute calf pictures along the way).

Katelyn Allen

Katelyn Allen joined the Hoard’s Dairyman team as the Publications Editor in August 2019 and is now an associate editor. Katelyn is a 2019 graduate of Virginia Tech, where she majored in dairy science and minored in communication. Katelyn grew up on her family’s registered Holstein dairy, Glen-Toctin Farm, in Jefferson, Md.