If your agribusiness serves farmers, then you need to understand how they use social media to maximise the effectiveness of any of your campaigns. But how many farmers use social media? Well, that depends on what you read. There are lots of stats out there and they vary widely, so establishing an accurate picture is difficult.
Estimates range from around 50 per cent of UK farmers using social media regularly, to as high as 80 per cent. While there is no doubt many farmers have embraced online over recent years, given the average age of farmers in Britain, and the scandalously poor internet provision in some rural areas, it is unlikely to be as high as 80 per cent.
That said, according to a We Are Flint report, 78 per cent of adults over 18 in the UK have a Facebook account. So, if taking into account the different social media channels available, perhaps this figure is not so far off the mark.
Either way, it still means that a huge number of your target market are active in the social space. And that is reason enough to have a compelling strategy in place.
Which Platforms are farmers using?
While estimates about the number of farmers using social media vary, different studies are fairly consistent about which platforms they favour. Facebook is unsurprisingly the most popular, followed by YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. No real surprises there.
What is more interesting though, is the way in which they use it. Facebook is used for entertainment and to keep in touch with family and friends. Along with Twitter, it also provides a regular source of farming news and a platform on which to discuss farming matters.
YouTube is popular as a means of entertainment, but also information as farmers will watch instructional videos on farming and farm equipment. This is hardly surprising given that many farmers work in isolation and if they need information quickly, YouTube is a fast, convenient and rich resource.
Communicating with the Customer
A number studies have shown that as more farmers sell direct to the consumer, social media enables them to get closer to their customers. One study reported that this was the most popular reason for using social media, with 59 per cent of respondents saying it enabled them to communicate directly with consumers, talk about their products and processes, and promote a wider understanding of farming and food production.
Twitter was the most popular channel to do this due to its conversational nature, but Facebook and Instagram are popular too.
Piecing it all together
Having built a picture of which social media channels farmers are using and how, we are in a much better position to craft an effective strategy to reach them. However, to align a strategy precisely to your business and communication aims, further research is required.
First of all, you must spend time listening. Find out what problems farmers are discussing that your company/products can solve, what they are saying about your brand or the type of equipment you provide. Use hashtags such as #AgriChatUK to follow discussions, search social media with relevant keywords to find who is saying what.
This might sound like a laborious process, but it is worth the effort. Only when you’ve done this can you make crucial decisions about the which channels to invest most into, and the type of content to produce. Consider the tone of your communications too. If you’re marketing a complex product directly to farmers, you might need to find simply ways of explaining the technical aspects. However, if you’re targeting agronomists, who are used to scientific language, more complex terminology is probably appropriate.
Finally, you must consider reach. It is a fact that most people don’t see most social media posts. This is where investing a bit of budget can work wonders. Sponsoring content means your posts will reach thousands of people who don’t follow your social media pages. Setting the audience criteria effectively means the people it reaches are relevant and credible.
It is clear that social media usage among farmers is growing at a rapid rate, and that is why brands selling to farmers need an effective strategy that goes beyond just occasional posts that generate little or no engagement.
Understanding which channels farmers use and how is an essential first step in creating a that strategy. However, this must be augmented with listening to your target audience to enable you to tailor and refine your approach.
Once you have your content plan in place, use sponsored posts and adverts to make that content reach the right people at the right time, and watch your audience grow. Always review and tweak your strategy as you go – the fantastic thing about social media and online generally is instant, accurate feedback via analytics, which are a powerful way to assess the effectiveness of your approach.
Finally, if you need assistance in devising and managing your social media strategy, Red Stag Media would be delighted to work with you. Get in touch to find out how we could help you get the most from your social media marketing.