Best Social Media Practices for Agriculture
The agriculture industry is no stranger to technology, so it isn't a major leap to embrace new communications technologies. Mobile connectivity – including the Internet – has become a useful business tool for rural agribusinesses.
Now, social media puts additional options at your fingertips. Using mobile devices, you can participate literally from anywhere - the field, the farm, industry events – you name it.
Social media tools lets you access industry news and information, network with colleagues and publish content to share with your following. The potential exponential reach of social media as those who follow you share your information with others makes it an attractive addition to your marketing mix. Better yet, social media outlets offer a more interactive online presence than a static website.
Set up and maintain a presence on a popular social network that can help you reach an appropriate audience such as a Facebook Page, a LinkedIn profile or Company Page, or a Twitter account. You’ll probably find posting to a social network far easier than updating a website, even from the small screen of your smartphone.
Before rushing to embrace social media marketing, first consider the basics of business marketing such as:
- What are your business objectives?
- Whom are you trying to reach?
- What do you want your audience to do?
Social media marketing can help you achieve some tangible business objectives such as building your brand, identifying and attracting prospects and better communicating with your current customers. You can tell your company story on a regular basis through social media.
Lay the Groundwork
After you’ve established clear goals for using social media, consider your resources and who will help manage your online presence and the content you publish. Establish internal guidelines for anyone representing you or your business in social networks. What is appropriate for posting and what isn't? How much time should you spend on networking?
These documents don’t have to be dense with legal language; however, you should consult a lawyer or your legal department to review them to see if you also need to post any disclaimers online.
Use the Right Tools
Before diving into social media, identify the tools that best suit your communications style and business needs. Use the social networks and tools that will help you reach the audience you want to reach. A quick survey in your newsletter, on your website, through email, or even by phone can give you a sense of where you should focus your efforts. Social media works best if you can first strengthen your current relationships, and then tap into them to help you reach out to others - their own friends and followers.
If you're not sure how to proceed with social media marketing, look to how others in your industry are using social networks. Once you join a social network, conduct keyword searches for topics that are relevant to your business or industry to see what others are talking about. “Listening” or reading is a great way to start using social networks.
Conversation is the crux of social media engagement. When you’re ready to go further, respond thoughtfully to others rather than simply publish content. As you get more comfortable using social media communications tools and build a following, look for ways to provide them with calls to action as well as ways you can talk about business, products or services without being overly promotional.
Use social media to tell the story about your agricultural operation as well as to discuss issues pertaining to your company and industry. Take advantage of the content you can produce straight from your smartphone or mobile device including photographs and videos, not to mention the content you can access. Use your social media channels as both marketing and communications tools and educational resources.