Marketing & Social Media for Vegetable Farms – Vegetable Crops Hotline

Marketing & Social Media for Vegetable Farms

Most Americans use social media to share information, find entertainment, and engage with businesses, which has made social media an important information source for all generations. Figure 1 shows findings from the Pew Research Center on the use of social media platforms, with Gen Z and Millennials more inclined to use Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, and Baby Boomers and Generation Xers significantly increasing their use of Facebook and other social media platforms. Among social media platforms, YouTube and Facebook remain the most popular, followed by Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and LinkedIn.

Figure 1. Adults use of social media platforms in the U.S.

Figure 1. Adults use of social media platforms in the U.S.

Social media influences how Americans purchase and consume products and services, so it is proving to be a powerful — and inexpensive — marketing tool. Businesses can use social media to increase their online exposure, attract new customers, highlight new products or services, hear what customers and potential customers say, and most importantly build relationships with current and prospect customers.

Given the popularity and convenience of social media, we would expect farmers are actively engaging customers through Facebook and other platforms. However, many farmers are not using social media for their marketing activities, and some that use it are not using it effectively.

Reasons may include that farmers perceive that social media is time consuming and confusing, or they simply do not understand how to use it.

If you are selling your farm products directly to consumers, this article can assist your business tailor and deliver social media marketing.

Using social media to sell

Social media can help a business attract followers and convert them into customers. However, just using social media is not the same as using social media effectively. Effective social media marketing requires businesses to connect with the right people, construct a tailored marketing strategy, treat followers as if they were face-to-face customers, and offer contests, giveaways, and events to convert followers into customers.

Below, you can find seven social media practices to make sure you are taking advantage of these powerful marketing tools. It is important to note that when selecting social media platforms, farmers should consider their target audience, industry, and marketing objectives. While maintaining a presence on multiple platforms is often effective, you should prioritize platforms where the target audience is most active. Additionally, combining organic content (free posting) with targeted paid advertising can enhance the impact of social media marketing efforts.

  1. Align your priorities. Use the SMART framework to define the goals you want to achieve with social media. Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This framework ensures that your objectives are well-defined and realistic.

Define specific and measurable objectives that can be quantified. For example, instead of a vague goal like “increase brand awareness”, set a measurable objective such as “increase brand mentions by 20% within six months”. Alternatively, you may want to gain 25 new followers on Facebook in the next months or create at least one Facebook event that generates $1,000 or more in sales in the next month. You may decide to incorporate X (previously Twitter) in your strategy to provide excellent customer service and reply to messages within 10 hours. Your goals will guide you in tracking and evaluating your marketing activities.

Start by aligning your social media goals with the broader objectives of your business. Whether it is increasing sales, building brand awareness, driving website traffic, or improving customer engagement, your social media goals should contribute to these larger business goals.

  1. Build a brand that appeals to your audience. The content (particularly the visual elements) you post on social media is key to building your brand. Below are some useful tips for social media branding.
    1. Create a logo that represents your company and use it across all platforms. Use a recognizable and high-quality logo or image as your profile picture.
    2. Use the same color palette or filter for your photos consistently so your followers recognize your business across all networks.
    3. Use your bio, profile, and cover photos to communicate who you are and what your company does better than anyone else. Crafting a concise and compelling bio will clearly communicate your brand’s identity and value proposition. Include a link to your website or a specific landing page.
    4. Use #hashtags for keywords that highlight your business values, products, events, campaigns, and industry. Hashtags can help you increase engagement, raise awareness, and categorize content.
    5. Share a variety of content, including images, videos, links, and text posts. Mix promotional content with valuable and entertaining posts to keep your audience engaged.
    6. Monitor comments, messages, and reviews regularly. Respond promptly and professionally to build a positive relationship with your audience.
  2. Choose your crops (platforms) wisely. You may feel the urge to jump into every social media platform, but it is recommended that you instead find the network that aligns with your customers’ profiles. Your business has unique customer segments, demographics, psychographics, and behavioral characteristics. Understand what social media your current and potential customers use to align your ads, events, and content. Each platform has its own strengths and provides a way to reach a unique clientele. For example, Instagram helps reach younger generations via photos, while X is great for providing exceptional customer service.

Select the social media platform(s) that align with your business goals and where your target audience is most active. Focus on quality rather than spreading thin across all platforms. One of the best ways to start social media marketing is (the oldie-but-goodie) Facebook. Make sure you fill your business page entirely, make your photos look good, and use their analytics and ad tools. Once you feel comfortable with Facebook, you can diversify and expand to other platforms by testing the waters in Instagram and others.

  1. Consistency pays off. As with any farm project, social media requires you to commit time and resources. Develop a content calendar and post regularly to maintain a consistent presence. As soon as you develop your calendar, you can save time by scheduling tools to plan posts in advance. Examples of tools include Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and Buffer. Using tools part of each platform (usually called insights) can help you determine the best times for posting when your audience is active. Sprout Social publishes (Figure 2 below) the global usage time of Facebook and Instagram to help optimize your posting times.
Figure 2. Facebook and Instagram global engagement

Figure 2. Facebook and Instagram global engagement

Using this information can help you post messages daily and at the time when your followers are around to see them by using the calendar to maintain a consistent posting schedule. Consistency helps build audience expectations and ensures that your brand stays at the top of your mind. You can streamline your content creation process by batching similar tasks across several platforms, especially using social media management tools. While you streamline your posting calendar, you can dedicate specific time to creating images, writing captions, and planning your posts for the upcoming week.

A very useful strategy is to discover the best time to post by understanding the demographics and locations of your audience and then tracking the engagement of your posts at different times of the day. Your posts should help you build relationships with your customers by providing relevant information, replying to comments or questions immediately, and using events and promotions to engage.

  1. Keep it real. Consumers want to buy products that have a direct impact on their communities. Tell followers your farm story, share your values and what you care about, and highlight the impact of buying from your farm. Post behind-the-scenes photos to communicate the passion you put in your business. Pose questions to your followers and inspire them to talk. A great way to tell your story is to post videos of your activities, events, and campaigns. Fill in your posts with words and photos that express the DNA of your business — your reason for existing. Convey what it is that you do better than anyone else and be visible and loud as if you were next to your customers.
  2. Track your success. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your goals. Common social media metrics include engagement rate, reach, conversion rate, click-through rate, and follower growth. Select metrics that directly reflect progress toward your objectives. When selecting your KPIs, you should establish realistic timeframes for achieving your goals. These could be short-term objectives (weeks or months) or long-term goals (quarters or years), depending on the nature of your business and industry. Examples of KPIs may be number of followers, shares, and mentions; click-through-rate or the percentage of people who clicked on a post or ad out of the total number of people who saw it; cost per conversion or the amount of money a brand spends on social media advertising to generate one sale. Regardless of your KPIs you should prioritize your goals based on their potential impact on your business. Focus on goals that will bring the most significant benefits and contribute directly to your business objectives.
  3. Obtain and value feedback. You can regularly evaluate the performance of your strategies and be willing to adapt based on the feedback and insights you gather from your audience and analytics tools. Start with comprehensive market research to understand your current and potential customers. Identify their trends, preferences, and challenges within your market. You can gather valuable feedback through surveys, polls, or direct communication with your existing customers on your social media platforms. You can ask about their preferences, needs, and expectations. This direct input can provide valuable insights and help you tailor products and services, as well as marketing messages to appeal to consumers. While some feedback can be negative, addressing negative feedback promptly, professionally, and publicly is recommended. Demonstrate a commitment to resolving issues and maintaining customer satisfaction. Marketers divide the market into categories based on shared traits, and you can use this tool in Figure 3 to highlight the types of market segmentation useful to group customers with similar attributes and behavior.

    Figure 3. Types of market segmentation.

    Figure 3. Types of market segmentation.

Demographic segmentation groups people with common characteristics (e.g., age, income, education, gender, nationality, etc.) that will have similar lifestyle patterns, tastes, and interests that ultimately influence their purchasing habits. Geographic segmentation can allow you to group people based on where they live, work, or travel. Psychographic segmentation divides people into groups based on their personality, lifestyle, social status, activities, interests, opinions, and attitudes. Psychographic characteristics include how customers perceive products and services and what are their preferred forms of communication. Behavioral segmentation refers to the specific steps in your current and prospective customer’s buying process, including what their ideal customers want, why they want it, the benefits sought, and how they go about getting their needs met.SMART is an acronym that can guide the goal-setting process.


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