Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is bridging gaps, whether its with politics, agriculture or social media, I am inherently interested in ways to bring people together rather than separate them. Some think this is too hopeful, but the only thing you can do is try, right? When I think about bridging the gap between consumers and farmers, I am excited to see projects like Farm Journal’s Trust in Food building conversations around the mistrust in our food system and ways to bring farmers, consumers and industry giants together for an honest conversation. I have tried to do the social side of building trust for consumers in brands and in practices like grain bagging or bale wrapping by using some of these traits that I believe consumers want to see in their products, practices and food.
2. Real statistics on environmental affects: Consumers with food and farmers with machines are both looking for real evidence that buying this or eating that is the right decision. Today anyone with an opinion can “be an expert” on a topic because they can create their own blog, stream a video of themselves or state ideas without evidence. This doesn’t cut it for building a reputation for yourself. Customers rightly deserve real numbers, real statistics about animal welfare, run off, ag recycling, sustainable practices and more. Ways to start doing this are doing your research from actual peered reviewed journals and experts in the field with real credentials, not merely an opinion. Below is an a company who is doing this, Indigo Ag. If you haven’t heard of them, its worth checking out.
3. Real family farms: some people have never been to a farm. I know many people who have tons of opinions on food, but have never sat foot on a farm. But they still deserve to know where their food comes from. With social media there is no reason that they cant get a glimpse of what life on the farm is like. So its up to us to give them quality, truthful video and images where we can begin to talk about the practices of farming and animal raising. People want to see real people, not correspondents dictating the show, real farmers and real days in the life of the farmers. Check out this video from How Farms Work below. They are a great resource for people not familiar with farming and shoot real videos, show real problems they face and have fun while they're at it.
4. Machines not running perfectly: if you sell machines you know that even the best finely tuned machine will have problems, sometimes it’s the operator, sometimes it’s the machine. Farmers want to see real demos of machines, not 20 minute videos of shiny machines running perfectly in a field that looks nothing like theirs, they want to see realness. And they want to know about service, and parts, and if the person selling it to them is available when needed and will take care of them. So get someone to take videos of your demos on real farms, it will go a long way.
At the end of the day customers, consumers and farmers all want the same thing. They just want the truth, and they want their brands and what info is given to them to be genuine, transparent and real.
There is no secret formula to using social media for business, but there are some ways that I have found from A/B testing that just work better than others, and its mainly about what real people want from brands. In the world of social media, ROI, stats, analytics and video views its sometimes hard to remember that there are real faces and people behind their phones, and those are the people you need to be talking to. So here are some suggestions on what type of content to distribute on each social media platform.
Facebook has been helping businesses grow their reach and market for a long time now, but what are brands that are succeeding doing differently on social? Some things I have learned about posting on facebook as a business is 80% giving, and 20% asking. I think I got this from Gary Vaynerchuks book “jab, jab, jab, right hook." You can stay true to your brand by posting short, vibrant videos that catch your audience in the first 3 seconds, that show maybe how your product works or provides how tos and inspiration for using your product, you can also share relevant articles that might be helpful to your followers. If you own a flower shop, maybe you want to post a timelapse of an employee building a beautiful arrangement, and share articles from others about seasonal succulent arrangements and how to build them at home. Once you have a good following, keep posting to Facebook regularly so they stay engaged and can rely on cool videos and helpful tips being in their news feed. You should post to Facebook no more than 3 times per day, and time of day is also important, look here for a good article on posting. You can also go live on facebook which automatically sends all your followers a notification to watch your live feed, a great way to stay at the top of their newsfeed if you have something exciting to share live.
(Pepsi, Facebook) (Gary Vaynerchuk, Facebook.)
Snapchat is live, or its intended to be. So this is a great place to film some behind the scenes at your company or your clients company. Funny (but not inappropriate) filters are great ways for your potential customers to see the lighter side of your company and realize that you are real people too. Some examples might be: company holiday parties, demonstrations of new products, a look around an event you are at.
Instagram is a great place to showcase products and ideas in a beautiful picture format. People on Instagram are looking for pictures that catch their eye, for example if you sell clothing, post engaging photos of arrangements of outfits and use cool filters. You can set up an Instagram shop where clients can then click on products and see pricing without having to leave the Instagram app.
Instagram Stories is a great platform that I feel a lot of brands aren’t using yet. Much like snapchat, Instagram stories is intended to be for live video and pictures with cool filters you can use. A great story about your companies adventures that day can be a great way to keep your followers engaged. So for this, much like snapchat, you can video a day in the life of an employee, or an event you are at or still shots some products with fun filters.
(Taco Bell, Snapchat)
Blog- everyone with a blog thinks they’re an expert all of a sudden. So be genuine, be kind, and most importantly be informative. Followers want value, and that’s what they demand of products now. Blogs are a great way to build organic SEO, the way that you can put rich keywords (that are relevant and not just saying words to say words) and they great titles, and links out and in from the blog make it a great way to start a conversation about topics that your company is interested in, teach your audience something of value and build trust within your online community.
Twitter- I have found with twitter, it is expected that people and brands will post frequently, so you can post up to 10 times a day without annoying people. With 280 (previously 140) character limits, it doesn’t get annoying when people post more than on other platforms. Tweet content could include pictures, video, quotes, or thoughts and helpful tips. If you are in the farming business, you could post daily grain pricing, photos of the farm and retweet relevant farming articles and blogs.
(John Deere, Twitter)
For this platform I have found that longer, in depth videos work best. So if you have a video that maybe you edited for a short eye catching video on facebook, maybe post the long version on YouTube. Also a lot of product how tos and instructional videos work well on youtube. Also if you are looking into doing a vlog (a video blog) youtube is a great place to start. You can also make playlists on your youtube channel that categorize and organize photos by similar theme or product which makes it easy for people to watch videos that are similar.
Linked In has a deep network of brands, companies and employees who, I have found, are always looking to provide feedback and encouragement. As a business, keep the business linked in page more structured and share curated videos and great blog posts. As for the personal side, it’s a great connecting resource and good for B2B (business to business) sellers. I have found it to be less social media-ish with far less memes and funny content, and more strictly business oriented, so keep that in mind with the type of content you share.
Podcasts are a platform that brands are using to their advantage. With the ease of use in apps like Anchor, anyone can create a podcast for free and upload it to itunes for listeners to hear. Or you can go all out and get microphone and computer editing software to make your podcast sound more professional. Pick a topic relevant to your industry and pick a general theme that you will talk about and bring in people to give expert opinions on. There are podcasts for comedy, farming, politics, fashion, and everything in between. Here are some of the podcasts I listen to below.
Farm to Table Podcast
Gary Vee Audio Experience
This is just one more way to provide value to your customer and build trust in your brand. You aren’t on your podcast promoting your products, people don’t want that- you are there to give insights and opinions about your industry that are fresh and new.