Social media is a powerful and important tool in the digital marketer’s tool belt. For agricultural businesses, it’s important to understand how farmers use social media, and how that affects how you market to farmers.
They not only understand the benefits that technology offers them, but they’re putting it to use. And their farms are benefiting as a result.
Social media is no different than these other technologies. In fact, recent data has shown that social media is very popular among farmers and rural Americans.
If you want to take full advantage of all the marketing and sales opportunities open to you, see how farmers are actually using social media, and how you can use that to inform your business strategy.
Social media is popular among farmers, rural and older Americans
Millennial farmers are the trend setters when it comes to social media. However, the younger generation isn’t the only one using the connective power of social to their benefit.
A recent Pew Research Center report revealed some illuminating trends:
- 58 percent of rural Americans use Facebook
- 65 percent of ages 50-64 use Facebook
- 78 percent of ages 30-49 use Facebook
- 25 percent of rural Americans use Instagram
- 17 percent of rural Americans use Twitter
Those last two numbers may look low, but when you consider that roughly 60 million people in America live in rural areas, you’re looking at 15 million people on Instagram and over 10 million on Twitter. Those are very sizable audiences.
While older rural Americans are the prime demographic for agribusiness, not all of those people are farmers. Farmers tend to gravitate toward Facebook and YouTube, with some of them using Twitter. Take a look at the following:
- 46 percent of all farmers in America – nearly 1.5 million farmers – use Facebook
- Only nine percent of farmers use Twitter, but that’s still an audience of nearly 300,000
- The most popular social media platform by far is YouTube, used by nearly 51 percent of farmers – over 1.6 million
While your agribusiness will need to perform its own ROI analysis of how much time and money should be invested in social media, these stats show that it’s clearly a good idea to give it a shot. A significant segment of farmers is using social media, and your agribusiness strategy needs to take that into account.
Farmers show us how to use social media
Social media actually connects to the way that a farmer thinks and operates. There are a number of ways that the farm operation can teach us how to use social media. Here are just a few parallels:
- Farmers don’t just maintain the plants that grow naturally in their backyards. Instead, they think strategically about the types of crops they plant based on the land, climate and other factors. Agribusinesses should take a cue from that and think carefully about the farmers they’re trying to reach, and where they should “plant” their content. Facebook and YouTube, for example, seem like fertile ground to get started.
- Planting and growing. Crops don’t grow overnight, and neither do social networks. You’re not going to have ten thousand likes or a trending hashtag overnight. But as you start posting content, you’ll gradually build a following and, eventually, see a return on investment.
- Community building. Rural communities are a core component of the farmer’s operation. And social communities serve a similar function for businesses. Whether it’s Facebook or LinkedIn groups, Twitter hashtags or Instagram followers, businesses that succeed in using social media do so through community.
- Certain crops – like corn and soy – if used in year-after-year succession can end up harming the soil. And if you post the exact same types of content on social media over and over again, you’re going to harm your audience, maybe even lose them. So rotate out the types of posts you use, so your audience gets fresh and engaging content each time.
- Open to external factors. At the end of the day, farmers can’t control external factors, and you can’t control how a group of people behave on a certain social platform. Being open to those external factors – positive and negative alike – is key to a successful social media operation.
Why agriculture needs to take advantage of social media
Agribusinesses who don’t use social in their marketing and sales efforts are going to be fighting an uphill battle for industry relevance.
Whether they’re conscious of it or not, farmers are going to form their opinion of your business based on what they see – or don’t see – on social. If you want them to have a positive impression of your brand, products or services, then invest time in cultivating a healthy online community and high-quality, valuable content.
That way, when it’s time to have a business conversation, you’ll already start off on the right foot.
But beyond the success of your agribusiness, social media helps the ag industry as a whole. When it comes to times of crisis, social media helps us share news faster, ask and offer help to each other quicker, and, overall, unite us as an industry and a community.
How your agribusiness can take advantage
Your agribusiness is uniquely poised to start taking advantage of social media. And it doesn’t have to require a major time investment at first. Most of these methods require only a little bit a time to get started.
Here are some quick and easy ways to start realizing these advantages today:
- Start posting content today. It’s never been easier to start your agribusiness’ own content channel. Whether you’re writing your own blog or sharing a third-party content piece, go ahead and start sharing. If you’re posting interesting and helpful content, farmers will find you.
- Use Facebook ads in your marketing. For as little as five dollars a day, you can start running Facebook ads to reach your target audience. Use Facebook targeting to build audiences based on broad (farming, agriculture, etc.) or specific (irrigation, corn/soy, etc.) – or upload a list of Farm Market iD’s fact-based data to get maximum positive ID match.
- Invest in video ads and video content on platforms like YouTube. Instead of old-school TV commercials, invest in video content on YouTube. Not only are the farmers there, but you can get high click-through rates and a more direct connection through mobile devices.
The key to social media: get started. Farmers are using social media in their day-to-day lives, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect with them. Make sure your agricultural business strategy takes that into account.
Whether you want to gain a better understanding of farmers or create a custom audience for your social media ads, download our eBook on How to Target Your Ideal Farmer with Facebook Ads.