Social Media

This morning I thought I’d share how we use social media for our farm business, how that has changed, and how it continues to change.

We have an account for White Flint Farm on Facebook. When we were first starting out we posted something on Facebook once a day. We divided responsibility for that–4 days of the week were Cherie’s responsibility and 3 days were mine. We had no “rules” for what we would post, but usually I posted a picture and usually Cherie posted a news story (about nutrition, sustainability, food issues, etc.). Every Friday evening we posted a photo of the chalk board she had prepared for the next day’s market, showing what we would have available. And every Saturday morning we posted a photo of our table at the market. We were careful to never post more than once a day.

Our Facebook page was a hit. It generated lots of new customers for us, and gave us an excellent way to promote the market and our farm. We got lots of compliments on it. We now have over 1,200 followers. All for free.

That all changed when Facebook shifted to being advertising-driven. Now our posts aren’t shared with all of our followers. Instead they’re sent out to a few folks and we’re invited to pay a small fee to “promote” the post. (There are workarounds that enable followers to see all our posts, but they’re too much trouble for most people to bother with.) It makes perfect sense that Facebook be paid for the advertising services, and people who use it tell me it is inexpensive and effective. But we don’t have advertising in our budget, so relatively few people see the posts these days.

In part because of that, and in part because we grew tired of the routine, we’ve scaled our Facebook posting way back. Now we always post a table shot from the market, but the other posts are irregular. And now we only post pictures, never news stories.

Instagram is a popular platform for people who enjoy seeing photos, but who want to be spared the nonstop barrage of political squabbling on Facebook. Our Instagram account is linked to our Facebook page, so that whenever I post on Instagram it automatically goes to Facebook too. Instagram makes it easy to edit and improve photos before they’re posted, so I always post the pictures on Instagram, knowing they’ll also appear on Facebook. My experience has been that Instagram is a great way to share pictures, but not of much benefit as a marketing tool.

We had a Twitter account for a while but neither of us cared for it. I think it still exists, but we haven’t posted on it for ages. These days Twitter seems to be in headlines every morning, and I’m guessing it is the dominant platform. But, so far at least, we haven’t joined the party.

Finally there are blogs. Cherie and I both had links to our blogs on the farm’s website, but now we’ve taken them down. She rarely posts these days and more often than not my posts are unrelated to our farm or to homesteading. So we quit trying to direct our farm customers to the blogs. I don’t consider this blog to be business-related.

For a while now I’ve been considering keeping this blog focused on homesteading/farming. But to be honest, I enjoy writing about other things. I’m sure I’d have more regular readers if I stayed on-topic, but I’ve chosen not to do that. I am seriously considering opening up a second blog, devoted to local history, which is one of my principal passions and which I’ve generally kept off this blog. But I digress…

For start-up farmers/market-gardeners I’d highly recommend some thoughtful use of social media. Unfortunately, the method that worked for us won’t work as well these days. I’d be interested in hearing from others who have used social media effectively or are doing so now.