Best Social Media Applications for Agriculture
Agribusinesses can benefit from a variety of social media tools and applications for marketing, outreach, education, and storytelling. Here is a breakdown of some of the social media networks and applications you can use.
Any professional or business can benefit from a LinkedIn presence, both a personal profile and a Company Page. A personal profile is like a resume while a Company Page is more like a Facebook Page. Use LinkedIn to connect with your customers, suppliers and peers. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups for additional networking opportunities such as Food & Agribusiness; Agribusiness & Retail, and Women in Agribusiness.
Facebook can prove useful for ag businesses because of its vast reach as can Twitter. Keep in mind who you are trying to reach and use the tools that will get you closer to them. Facebook can be easier than Twitter when it comes to set up and building a following since you can immediately invite your actual Facebook friends and import your connections. Twitter has a more global reach, but it can be harder to build an active following.
Because ag businesses are often rooted in a sense of place, images can be a valuable asset in social media communications. Photos from the ranch or the farm or behind-the-scenes video from the expos, fairs, exhibitions, and other industry events you attend. Visual imagery is popular on social networks and can tell your story to a wider audience. Upload photos and even video to Facebook and Twitter or popular photo-sharing community sites like Flickr, Pinterest and Instagram. Easily produce video for marketing, education or even demonstration on YouTube using your smartphone from anywhere.
Depending on your agribusiness sector, there are custom social networks dedicated to industry-specific audiences such as AgChat. In addition to networking within the AgChat community on their website, you can also participate in a weekly AgChat on Twitter. Another industry-specific network is FoodHub that was formed to connect farmers and ranchers with buyers and distributors. FarmTime is another niche tool, while the USDA operates various community groups on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other media.
Managing Social Networks
To best manage your social networks, do the following:
- Monitor - Search, see what others are talking about, and save searches.
- Manage - Handle more than one social network using a social media dashboard such as Hootsuite, SproutSocial, Buffer or MarketMeSuite for easy updating, responding and scheduling.
- Measure - Assess the growth of your networks, the frequency of channel participation and actual conversions. These factors indicate how well your audience is responding and connecting to you.
Even when you adopt social networks, don't neglect your more traditional email list. These remain an effective way to reach your target audience with key marketing messages and calls to action.
Finally, direct people to subscribe to your email list from any of the social media you're using. This will help you disseminate your information widely, as well as give others the ability to share your content to their networks.