Rural isolation is a thing of the past, says Madeleine Lewis founder of AgChat, as social media opens new windows of opportunity for farmers around the world. 

Ergo, Social Media is not just for the large agricultural urban producing enterprise.   This past weekend, PASA, conducted its seventh annual farm tour in Pennsylvania.  This is the second year, I have had the opportunity to visit local farms in our community to get a behind the scenes view of a few of our local farm producers.

While learning about our local farms practices was foremost on my mind, my curiosity went beyond the products and on to how farmer’s were going digital and what social media opportunities farmers were engaging in to increase business relationships with customers and promote brand awareness.

I discovered that while many use one platform (Facebook), few are taking advantage of Twitter, or blogging via a business web site.  Other platforms like Pinterest never made it to the conversation.  Maintaining even one platform on a regular basis is a demanding challenge.  I can well understand that time plays a significant factor in how much time can be devoted to social media.  Farm producers are up early, overseeing a variety of production areas on their farms, and must constantly keep up with State and Federal regulations to stay in business.

How important is it in today’s digital market for farmers to jump into the social media bull pen?  There has been a significant “cultural shift” to connect farmers and help them get the word out about food production using multiple social media platforms.  What are some tips and techniques agricultural entrepreneurs can deploy to keep up with this shift?

Here are a few tips and ideas, that require minimal time, but will deliver long term benefits:

Seek out the outlets that work for you and create profiles. Facebook and Twitter, are the most popular, there are other sites like Pinterest and LinkedIn.  Check them all out and determine what fits your life.

Maintain the one or two platforms, whatever they are, regularly and consistently.  It might mean one post a day on Facebook and 2-3 posts on Twitter.  That daily connection is vitally important in keeping your brand name in front of customers.

Use your platform to promote in-season products, specials, and upcoming events.  Describe your farm experiences and challenges with images and videos. Customers want to know the latest, the earliest, and they want to know you.

Become a fan or follower of agricultural blogs, organizations and individuals.  You would be amazed how many non-agricultural entrepreneurs “Like” and “Follow” the farm/agricultural industry.

The bottom line, take time for the basics, participate in as many platforms as time permits and do so regularly, and above all, be yourself.  Just like the local farm tour I experienced this past weekend, giving your customers a behind the scenes glimpse of your business and yourself, will produce long term benefits and successes.