There are lots of compelling reasons to get on Facebook, and invest in the time into doing it well. Here are just a few:
- To build your brand and grow your business
- To help potential customers find you
- To better connect with your existing customers and create customer loyalty
- To promote your products and generate excitement around your offering
- To remind your customers when and where they can access your products
- To engage in a dialogue with customers to better understand their preferences
- To advocate for local food and differentiate yourself from conventionally food outlets
If you think of the OFN as an online farmer’s market, social media is analogous to the ‘G’day, how’s your week been’ chat that you might have with a customer at a real farmer’s market. When trading online, building this social connection is just as important, and it’s often what makes the difference to the customer between choosing the faceless supermarket, and choosing an alternative option. As well as other tools like email and newsletters, Facebook is a really great way to connect with your customers when you don’t necessarily see them face to face.
Facebook is a network and is all about forming connections between people (albeit in a virtual way).
There are two ways to connect with people:
1) People can reach out to you, and ‘like’ you.
The people who have ‘liked’ your page become your audience. They will receive updates whenever you post something on your wall. You should aim to have lots of people, including your new and potential customers ‘like’ your page. You can invite people to like your page in an email, or you can ask your existing Facebook friends to like your new page. It’s good to get a few dozen of your friends and family to like your page first, so that when the public visits your page they can see that it’s popular.
Remember, people need a reason to ‘like’ you. If a facebook page hasn’t been updated in 6 months or doesn’t have any photos people are less likely to ‘like’ it. Customers will be more likely to ‘like’ your page if you share interesting content like updates about how your crops/animals are growing, interesting news stories related to food, funny anecdotes from the farm and recipes etc.
2) You can reach out to others and ‘like’ them.
In the search bar at the top of your page, search for other farms and organisations that you want to connect with. When you find one you’re interested in, click the Like button at the top of their page. When you like a page, they’ll see that you’ve liked them, and they might like you back. You’ll also start to see updates about what they’re doing in your news feed. It’s worthwhile ‘liking’ a couple of dozen organisations and businesses because it’s a good way of getting news updates from organisations e.g. Department of Agriculture, Australian Organic, MLA or other food movements. It’s also a good way to get access to interesting content, that you can share on your own page. If you’re new to Facebook you might also want to like other farm pages, to get some ideas from how other farmers are using Facebook.
Note: As a business page on Facebook, rather than a personal profile, you can’t become friends with people, you can only ‘like’ other businesses. But people can ‘like’ you.
Managing a Facebook page can take some time and thought, so why not share the task with others? You can invite other people to become ‘administers’ of your Farm’s page. This allows them to post things on your Farm’s page. Letting your family and colleagues post on the Farm’s page means your less likely to run out of interesting content!
It’s important to acknowledge your followers when they post on your wall, send you a message, or comment on one of your posts. You can do this by liking their comment, or writing a reply.
When others post on your wall, it drives traffic to your site. You can encourage your followers to post on your wall by having photo competitions, or asking them to share positive feedback on your wall.
It’s important to be authentic on Facebook. You want to create a page which reflects everything that you are about and showcases what you have to offer that is unique and special. Be creative, be personable. Here are some idea’s if you’re not sure what to post:
- What’s growing on your farm?
- What produce you’re having for dinner tonight and how you prepared it
- Animal photos! Everyone likes photos of animals.
- A news article related to food and agriculture (keep these posts relevant)
- Which farmer’s market you’re attending on the weekend
- Promote your products, (this shouldn’t be all that you post, 20% is a good rule)
Need some ideas, check out what other farmers are doing to engage their customers and create interest in their products. Here are just a few of the great facebook pages out there: