As the weather warms and the time for action is upon us, it can be difficult to find the time to continue to manage your various social media channels. I am sharing a few tips found in our Direct Farm Marketing Business Resources Guide and various OMAFRA fact sheets that will help you manage social media and your time spent monitoring it this summer.
Different social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, provide an important opportunity for two-way communication with customers.
Be helpful to your customers. Focusing on sales should not be the sole purpose of your communication. Interact and engage with customers, entertain and educate them about agriculture and your business. This strategy will help build a relationship and lead to loyalty from your customers. Loyal customers make up the majority of your company’s business- it is important to form and maintain these relationships.
Social media is an opportunity to address customer concerns or complaints promptly. Have a policy for how to handle social media, including negative feedback. Comments on social media have the potential to be seen by existing or prospective customers. Keep in mind that complaints are an opportunity to improve your service or product. Address complaints quickly to keep your customers.
Remember to stay active in your communications. Social media provides the opportunity for you to provide fresh, up-to-date information for your customers. Frequent activity on social media will keep your business on your customers’ minds. If you are having trouble coming up with regular content remember that day-to-day activities of your business or farm are very intriguing to most followers!
There are services available such as HootSuite that can automatically schedule and post your content, allowing you to plan multiple posts at one time. Connect all your social media channels to your website, which will save time and require you to only post in one place.
Although social media sites are free, time is money and using social media requires a time commitment from you or your staff. Allocate time to developing a social media strategy, building content, and monitoring comments and activity. Commit one staff member to update and monitor social media regularly. Build in time for this activity but do not dictate how they go about it. The individual in charge of your business’ social media needs to have passion and interest in the business and industry, and needs freedom to communicate. It doesn’t take much time to communicate with a lot of existing and potential customers on social media, but it can be difficult to set time aside. To help maintain frequent communication, connect your smartphone with your social media channels. This allows you to communicate through social media from the field, in the kitchen when your fresh pies come piping hot out of the oven, or at an event as it is happening.
Social media provides a number of business development opportunities for your business. Take advantage of what social media has to offer and stay connected to your customer, market your brand and build your business. For more information on how to market your farm or food
business go to Ontario.ca/agbusiness.
Erica Pate, direct farm marketing lead and Adam Miller, business management summer student, work for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.