Lets face it, our phone counts as our computer, alarm clock, dictionary, research tool, shopping cart, communication tool, social outlet, and even our dating life. In just 1 minute, 3 million searches are made on Google and 1 million people logged into Facebook. (hootsuite 2019)
If you’re in marketing you know that the way we market products has also changed in the last 10 years. Customers now get the majority of their views about brands online. People spend between 12-20 hours of research online on a major product before buying. The online research they do can be anything from customer reviews, videos, blogs, etc.
So what will be the best way to reach people in 2020? What are customers really looking for before they buy a product?
Here are 3 main things that customers in the digital age want:
Let me explain.
this means that with so many companies out there killing it on social media, you need to step up your game in regards to what you post and what your ads look like. People want to feel connected to your business before they make a purchase. They want to see your real business, your real employees, and customers really using your products. They want honest reviews of the product, and they aren’t looking for perfection in your format or product. But does it solve the problem they have effectively? Are you relatable enough in your social style or is it stuffy and staged photography and perfect video? People want realness. Transparency can also be user generated content from real customers. Here are some examples of companies that are winning at transparency:
whether you agree with how fast paced we’ve all gotten is beside the point. Customers need to be able to find you fast, or they will move on to your competition. You need to be on the first page of Google, and when they are directed to your website it needs to be user friendly, with clear ways to get in contact with you or buy your product if you are an ecommerce site. Think Amazon. They also want to be able to ask you questions on your social media and get a response quickly. Like within 15 minutes quickly. Every. Time. If you have comments on your social media, reply to them. Quickly. Even the negative ones. If people DM you, reply quickly. If you don’t know the answer to their question right then, simply reply and tell them you need more time to find the answer. This is better than saying nothing. People want to feel heard. If you are a small business and don’t have time to respond to everyone, then get someone in or outside your company to handle this. You wont regret it.
(Nike Twitter) (Starbucks Facebook)
While about 20-40% of your content can be about your actual product or service you are selling, a good 60-80% of the content you share and create should be useful to your customer even if they don’t buy something that day. Say you sell cookware. Instead of posting “buy now! Best cook ware!” make it a point to share useful recipes and cute ways to stack your cookware, cleaning hacks to clean your cookware, etc. People want value and they want to know that you are an expert in the field. Blogs, step by step videos, how to’s and tutorials are also good ways to provide value. Memes that are appropriate and related to your field are also good ways to provide value to customers, because you are providing comedic value. This is a step that a lot of businesses miss. They are much different online then if you walked into their business. Marketing doesn’t have to be stuffy and sales pitchy.
If you get your following down, people will be more willing to stay around for the helpful info and wont mind when you also tell them about a product you sell when you make it 80% helpful, 20% selling. Here are some businesses that are great at providing value. Check out these businesses that get it:
(Taco Bell Twitter)
Do farms need to market themselves online by having a website or a social media plan or both?
Some do. Some don’t. If you are strictly a row crop farmer who takes his harvest every year directly to the grain terminal, sell no other products and are not interested in educating others about your farm, you probably do not need a website or social media plan.
Lets examine some instances that it would benefits farmers to have a web presence:
If you are in the cattle business. Anyone who buys and sells cattle can benefit from having a website and social media presence. You can get cattle sold and bought faster. If you also process meat and sell steaks, for instance, you can market these online and even perhaps sell online to people outside your area all via the internet. Here is a local producer who does a great job of getting her product out into the world: https://www.savannahsfarmfresh.com/
If you sell seed or machines. Lots of farmers these days find a seed or machine that has been useful to them on their farm and they decide to be a dealer for them. In this case, if you are selling anything you should have a website and be on social media promoting said products. Social media will allow you to reach people within the radius of your territory you are allowed to sell in, and you can get very specific as to who sees yours ads. You can gain a following and get loyal customers. Check out Dammann Farms on how their social media and web presence has helped them sell machines and other services.
If you want to educate the public. Everyone is aware that there seems to be a disconnect between producers and consumers in regards to agriculture. There are many farms that are changing the game and using social media to be transparent about their operations and educate the public on what they do on their farm, how they do it and why. Here are some farms that are doing a great job:
How Farms Work. https://www.howfarmswork.com/
http://hillfarmsnewmexico.com/ Hill Farms New Mexico
If you are looking for ground to rent. If you are always open to taking on more ground, having a website that showcases what you do and who you are is a great way to find farm ground. You can put your website on business cards and give them to people, then they can go to your website and see about your operation. Meduna Farms does a great job at this on their farm page:
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We compiled a list of the top 4 trending digital strategies that your business should take advantage of in 2019.
1. Video. For the last few years video has reigned supreme in types of content that gets the most traction, that being return on investment, phone calls, brand awareness. Every day, Facebook claims that 100 million hours of videos are watched on their platform. And that’s just Facebook, don’t forget about posting great videos to Instagram (Instagram TV for longer form videos), twitter, youtube, and snapchat. For ideas on how to make your videos great, read our blog and also an article titled 10 useful types of content viewers love.
2. Live Stream. Social media marketing cannot just be a steady stream of “buy this product from us” because even marketers get tired of seeing that and we know our customers do too. Live stream gives customers a chance to see a new product, a behind the scenes or a more real, social part of your business. Its not too stuffy, its not too perfect, but its perfect for 2019.
3. Meet customers when they’re already searching for you. Google is still one of the best ways to show up when your customers are already looking for what you sell. This is sometimes a better way of showing up for your customers instead of possibly showing them something that they don’t want to see. It seems less intrusive and it can make a good fit for you both. Say you sell organic beauty products. If you use google adwords you can show your text or display ad when people in your target areas search any of your keywords like organic beauty products, what is the best organic lipstick? Organic make up, etc. I will point out that if you are not familiar with google adwords you should get a professional to help so that you can create the best possible ads, there are lots of tips and tricks that can make your ad the most relevant and create the most conversions, and there are several ways to really mess it up too, so find someone who can do it right for you.
via Nate Patel
4. Messenger apps. Message apps like facebook messenger, whats app, direct messaging on Instagram, etc. are all on the rise. Potential customers like to interact quickly with brands and be able to ask questions, get answers, deals, etc. A big point here is that you need to either have a chat bot or dedicated people to answer your customers questions on these platforms if you are going to do it, because it can go the other way and make your company look bad if there are hundreds of messages out there with no replies. Messenger can also be a good place to send coupons or deals to your followers, suggest a new product or video to them. Again, overuse of this will be highly annoying, so use sparingly and use mainly for answering questions and sending deals.
via Social Media Today
We ask businesses this question a lot, and as advertisers our process and approach should directly relate to what the customer is trying to accomplish. So as a customer I wanted to let you in on a little bit of knowledge in regards to how we might go about obtaining your goals. I will take Facebook as an example, but each social media channel and online advertising platform should have its own unique ways to obtain your goals on that platform.
There are many different goals that Facebook allows you to pick (as shown below) but lets focus on 3 of them:
If your goal is Conversions:
If you have an eCommerce business and are selling products online, the conversions goal will be your friend. You can track sales from ads through your Facebook pixel and re market people who went to your website but didn’t follow through with the purchase. Some good examples of ads for conversions are short videos or carousel format images showcasing a selection of your best selling products. Make sure to keep your targeting focused on what type of customers you have after doing a detailed customer profile analysis. Also keep in mind that like I always say, no one likes being marketed to, so keep your ad looking as “un ad-ish” as possible. Here are some good examples of that:
If your goal is Video Views:
Just like 2018, 2019’s biggest content on social media will be video.
Your videos should be formatted differently whether you are posting to Facebook, Instagram, snapchat or any other platform. See our previous blog on what types of content is best for each social media platform. For this post we are talking about facebook, so for facebook the best type of videos that will get you’re the most views include videos that are active, short and captures the viewers attention in the first 3 seconds. That’s right, you have about 3 seconds to convince the audience to keep watching, because lets face it: theres a LOT of video on facebook and it takes a special one to keep people from just continuing to scroll. In facebook ads you can choose the video views goal and pick an audience based on location, age, gender, and interests. It is best to make your video dimensions horizontal, except if you are in facebook stories, there you want to make the video vertical for best results. Having a short description in the post with your video has also shown to be best, and using emoji’s to grab attention can also be a plus. Some examples of good eye catching video ads are:
If your goal is Messages:
Messages are a great way to interact with your potential customers. Everyone likes quick answers and businesses that are able to respond quickly whereas some of their competitors might make people wait hours, will get the sale 90% of the time. So if this is your goal here are a few suggestions of what your ad should look like. First, make sure that however long you have the ad running that you have someone on staff (or your marketing agency has someone on staff) to answer these questions when they come in. Nothing will hinder your campaign more than not being responsive to an ad that is dedicated to showing it to people who are likely to respond via messenger. And yes, you can set up your “automatic replies” in messenger but this isn’t the real conversation and quick answers that your customers are looking for. If you want to invest in a chat bot that can interpret questions and respond, then look into Mobile Monkey- for everyone else, just be prepared. Depending on what you are selling, a short, attention grabbing image or gif might be just what it takes to get customers to respond and ask you questions via messenger. Here are some good examples of ads that had the goal of messages:
To learn more about how Facebook’s algorithm does this, read:
While drones have been around for many years now, the military has been using drones since around 2000, so about 18 years. But only in recent years have drones come into the mainstream and most recently into the ag sector. Below we have listed some exciting new ways that drones can help farmers, whether the farmer is flying it themselves or hiring it out.
(pic via AgriTech Tomorrow)
2. Checking Cattle. With a drone, farmers and ranchers can easily check up on livestock without needing to be right next to them. Most standard drones will have a range of up to 3 miles, with more heavy duty ones having the ability to fly further than that. This can save time and resources by simply flying over to check on livestock.
3. Planting, Spraying. New technology has even come as far as being able to spray and fertilize fields with drones. “planting: Startups have created drone-planting systems that achieve an uptake rate of 75 percent and decrease planting costs by 85 percent. These systems shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil, providing the plant all the nutrients necessary to sustain life. Crop spraying: Distance-measuring equipment—ultrasonic echoing and lasers such as those used in the light-detection and ranging, or LiDAR, method—enables a drone to adjust altitude as the topography and geography vary, and thus avoid collisions. Consequently, drones can scan the ground and spray the correct amount of liquid, modulating distance from the ground and spraying in real time for even coverage. The result: increased efficiency with a reduction of in the amount of chemicals penetrating into groundwater. In fact, experts estimate that aerial spraying can be completed up to five times faster with drones than with traditional machinery.” (Mazur, 2016).
4. Machine sales and Demos. Drones are a great way for agriculture machinery dealerships, professionals who have patented ag products and manufacturers to show people how their machine really works. Online video viewership is the largest consumed form of content currently according to Search Engine Journal: “Right now, Facebook users are spending 3x as much time watching live videos than traditional videos. As if that weren’t enough, video content is projected to represent 74 percent of all web traffic by the end of this year, and more than 80 percent of all web traffic by 2020. What’s more, 4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read a post about it.” (McCoy, 2017).
A frequently asked question we get is do you need a drone license? Heres the answer: if you are a farmer flying a drone on your own farm for pleasure, no you don’t need a license. If you are going to shoot video for business, apply chemical or plant, then yes you need a drone license or you need to hire an individual or company who has a drone license to do this task for you.
McCoy, Julia. May 8, 2017. “ 7 types of content that gain the most engagement and likes.” Search Engine Journal. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/best-content-types/194679/
Calderone, Len. December 28, 2017. “How do drones help farmers?” AgriTech Tomorrow.
Mazur, Michal. July 20, 2016. “Six Ways Drones are Revolutionizing Agriculture.” MIT Technology Review.
Video rules digital, and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. According to Wordstream, "Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined," and according to Social Media Today, 500,000,000 people watch facebook videos everyday. So now you're convinced you should use video, here are 4 rules we have found that are essential to be successful at online video.
1.Action shots. Start off your videos right in the middle of action or speaking. You only have between 1-3 seconds to catch the viewers attention before they might click off, so if your video has a lengthy intro or logo- you are likely to lose the person without them ever seeing your video. Watch this Nike Video below to get an idea:
2. Short video/Video appropriate for medium. Like I talked about in a previous blog, there is a correct type of content for each social media platform. So for video, longer form videos might be better suited for YouTube, sections of your website or Instagram TV- but the rules for catching the viewer at the begging still apply. For Facebook, twitter, and snapchat, short catchy videos between 15-60 seconds are the ones getting the most views.
3. Optimize for each platform. Make sure your videos are dimensioned right for each platform. The majority of people are watching video on their mobile devise, so if you are not optimizing for mobile, you have lost. And this doesn’t mean taking video with your phone vertically, that should NOT be done unless you are taking live video in Snapchat or Stories to share right then. Make sure to put tags on your videos so they are easier for people to find, and make sure your sound and backgrounds are well thought out and clear. Also, don’t post your youtube link of your video to facebook, upload it directly to facebook, this way it’s about 10x more likely to be viewed, because people like staying in one app and not taking time to move over to youtube while in facebook. Facebooks algorithm also likes posts that keep viewers in their app, so its more likely to get seen that way. Check out Taco Bells method for YouTube Video vs. Snapchat.
Above: Video for Youtube vs. Below for Snapchat
4. Give value. This might be the most important one. Give value to the customer through your video. Don’t simply put your product on the screen and say ‘flash sale, buy now.’ consumers are over that spiel by now and can see right through it. If you are in the hair product industry, perhaps a time-lapse video of how to achieve a new trendy hairstyle, or if you are in the food industry, a quick video showing someone making a new dish would give value. Think about what you want as a consumer from the brands you follow, try not to think like a marketer so much 😊 Below is a good example of Birchbox giving customers value from their video.
If every video you post has these 4 elements in it, you are on your way to attracting more people to your videos! For more, watch a video below by Truly Social.
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.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, and Instagram alone has an estimated 800 million monthly active users as of September 2017 (Statista). Since early last year, Instagram has started allowing anyone with a business account to advertise in the Stories section of Instagram. These ads are shown in the middle of users watching the people or brands they follows stories. These are short ads (no longer than 15 seconds), often include great visuals and music, and are great for introducing a new product, catching attention and staying top of mind with potential customers and your current followers.
Adstage, Prater. 2018.
The way you create ads in through your current facebook ads channel, then when choosing a placement you would select Instagram stories. The dimensions for these ads are as follows:
-video ratios 16:9 to 4:5 and 9:16
-video file size: 4GB max
-video length: 1-15 seconds
-video sound: optional
So if you want to expand your social arsenal of ads, consider Instagram stories by talking to your advertiser or trying it out for yourself!
If you haven’t noticed, video has been on the rise across all forms of content on the internet. It doesn’t matter if you are on social media, browsing huff post, searching for something on google or watching another streaming video form like hulu, video ads are being shown to you and you are in some way engaging with them.
Here are some reasons you should be using video now.
According to socialitysquared , 53% of consumers interact with their favorite brands on Facebook. Pew Research Center states that “three quarters of facebook users and half of Instagram users use the site every day.” Over 135 minutes per day are spent by the average person. Per day! Facebook alone has 2.2 billion monthly active users. (Statista). Social Media Today reports that by 2020, 80% of all content consumed online will be video, and over 8 billion videos or 100 milion hours of videos are watched every day on facebook. Every. Day.
Bottom line is, your customers are online watching videos and interacting with brands- so in order to reach them you need to have videos online too.
You can stay top of mind.
Whether it means your customers are actually watching your video, clicking on it, or merely keep scrolling, assuming you did your job right with a short, to the point video, they saw your branding whether they actually sat and watched your video or not. And you need to stay top of mind or you will be forgotten, considering that it is estimated by 2020 50% of all online searches will be done by voice search- so you need to stay ahead of the curve on all fronts and optimize for the future : which will be mobile, voice search, AI, and video.
You can tell your story.
What makes your business different or special? Get creative and let your viewers take an inside look at your business, please are more likely to buy from companies they trust. Social media has made it very important to be transparent as companies. What does transparency mean to todays consumers? It means replying to questions on social media within an hour, letting them catch a glimpse inside your business, the people who work for your company, having engaging content that they can relate to- no one wants to feel like they are being marketed to, so it needs to be free of buy now! and for a limited time only! wording. Check this Link for some great examples of branded media videos that really nailed it and watch a few examples of great short video ads below.