As more people are making connections between farming and the food on their tables, they want to connect with the people who make their meals possible. As a highly effective farmer, you are in a position to educate and inform, and bring people to your farm digitally. By improving your digital presence, you can connect with your customers like never before.
Build a Website
The first step to establishing your digital presence is to build a website. Your website can share details of your growing process and be a great spot to share pictures of your operation. You don’t need to be technically proficient in web design to get online. Consider using sites like Wordpress, Weebly or Wix to build a user-friendly website. Talk about who you are, what drives you, and how you do what you do. Share information on where you will be (say, farmers markets or community events) and how people can connect with you (via email and social media, for example).
Once the main sections are built, consider adding a blog. People have questions about farming and how you make the decisions you do. Your blog is a great spot to answer the questions you receive. Simply answer a question with words and photos, and you have started connecting people to your farm.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a fancy way of saying that you want to make sure your local community can find you online. It’s worth investing time and energy into understanding SEO, but it may also be worthwhile to consult a professional who can help boost your farm’s digital presence. After all, it’s great to have a website, but only if people can find you.
Use Social Media
Once you have a website, consider adding social media to your digital presence strategy. Whether you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another platform, you can share your story with images and short soundbites. You can let your customers see up-close how your farming operation works, and you can get to know your customers.
Be sure to engage thoughtfully with your customers and answer their questions. Your customers would love to get a better understanding of everything you do. A few ideas to keep up your digital presence:
- Share Your Babies — When animals are born, document their first moments. Share photos of the babies being fed, taking their first steps, and hanging out with their mother. There is nothing cuter than a newborn!
- Document the Growing Season — Farmers and ranchers work sun-up to sun-down as you are planting and tending crops. Share photos of the sunrise, the view from your planter or harvester, or what it looks like when crops are in bloom.
- Farmers Market Selfies — Document yourself setting up for the local farmer’s market and invite your followers to visit you while you are there. Show the produce you will be selling and share food preparation tips.
When you are in the community, whether at a farmer’s market or another event, be sure you have a sign touting your social media accounts and sharing tips on how to find you.
Send Email Newsletters
Consider keeping in regular contact with your customers with an email newsletter. You can share stories, recipes for the produce you grow, customer testimonials and upcoming calendar events. If you welcome people to your farm, your newsletter can provide crucial information about parking and payments.
Be sure that your website collects email addresses so that you can email the people who are interested in your farm. Don’t send emails from your personal email account; if your website doesn’t have the ability to send emails, consider using a service like Constant Contact or MailChimp. These services will help your emails to have a consistent look and feel, and help you follow the rules.
It may take a little time to give your farm a digital presence, but it could be time well spent to connect with your customers. Be sure your farm is protected — review your coverage with your local Farm Bureau agent for more tips to improve the profitability of your farm or ranch.