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.

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29 comments on “Social Media

  1. hilaryhighpa says:

    Keep writing about other things — I enjoy reading your musings!

    Like

  2. And I enjoy the variety in your posts. Though the balance is appropriate and I always know this post is anchored at your homestead-farm. I was particularly moved by the post about the challenges of growing animals for meat/sale, and how hard it is to do this.

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  3. valbjerke says:

    I like your blog the way it is 😊

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I try not to stray too far off the reservation. Well, at least I try not to do that very often. I’m really glad that folks seem to like it this way. I haven’t found the discipline to be more focused.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Laurie Graves says:

    Hear, hear! I, too, enjoy the variety, and there is no reason why you couldn’t, if you wanted to, include posts about local history, too. Some years ago, I had a blog called “A Good Eater,” which focused on food. But, like you, I wanted to write about other topics. So “A Good Eater” morphed into “Notes from the Hinterland,” and now I write about whatever I want from my little place in Maine.

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  5. GailM says:

    As a nurse who also has a degree in Agriculture, I know that being well rounded is important in my line of work as it is in farming. A farmer is a jack of all trades, but has to also follow science if he/she wants to succeed. The farm is part of a community, and a much larger circle globally. So the larger the circle is with your philosophy, the more people you can affect. Initiating talk through your ideas can reach millions. Wow. Keep doing what you’re doing.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. I’m grateful for the feedback. This post wasn’t supposed to be about my blog, but I’m glad I mentioned it. The encouraging feedback feels good. πŸ™‚

      Like

  6. avwalters says:

    I originally started blogging because “they” said you had to, in order the “brand” yourself as an author. So I blogged. Then, “they” said you needed a Facebook presence. So I did that. Several years later, “they” acknowledged that blogging wasn’t an effective marketing tool for fiction authors. What could I do? I had made friends in the blogosphere. There was community there. We shared life stories and ideas. It was a place to find folks of like mind.

    Now “they” tell me I need a website presence–to promote my books. And when things settle (after we move into the house), I’ll probably give it a try. Social media isn’t the wild west that it once was. If we truly lose Net Neutrality, it’ll be the domain of big players. We small fry will be crowded out by faster, more accessible sites. Still, I’ve come to like my virtual community. Though my blogging may be more sporadic, I think I’ll stick with it.

    I hope you do, too.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Forming community has been one of the best things about blogging for me. Of course the vast majority of readers don’t comment, and that’s OK too. I don’t comment very often when I read blogs either. But I have to admit that I enjoy the comments. Blogging wouldn’t be nearly as fun and rewarding without them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        I like blogging. I love, not just getting comments and commenting, but the process of finding another blogger you like and getting to know them–and their followers, through comments.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Michelle says:

    Well THAT explains why I don’t get as many posts from those I follow on FB! I have never liked the FB platform, or the trail of relationship damage/destruction that I have personally witnessed that was initiated by FB contact, but it is the only way to stay in contact with some friends and family. Blogging suits my communication style much better – that, and email.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I just shake my head when I see some of the inflammatory stuff people put up on Facebook. I enjoy using it as a way to keep up with friends. But I’m not so interested in folks’ political opinions. And I have zero interest in arguing with them. On balance I like Facebook, but there have been plenty of times I’ve felt like swearing it off. I agree with you about blogging–much better suited to my personality.

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  8. I personally like blogs that have more than one topic — I guess because that’s what I do too. And I’ve never been good at doing what they tell me to do. I also would like to read some of your local history….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I’m pleased at all the feedback–all of which favors keeping the blog the way it is. Thanks for weighing in. I enjoy blogs that are limited to gardening and homesteading, but I enjoy multi-faceted blogs too. For now I reckon I’ll stay in the later category. πŸ™‚

      Like

  9. BeeHappee says:

    Bill, very exciting on the local history! I had enjoyed a few things of history you posted here but also of course all other topics as well. I like that you mix it up and do not go into homesteading hardcore, because my brain can only retain small farming tid bits, but they are always very helpful. πŸ™‚ The other day I was thinking, I need to look up how Bill does his worm farm. πŸ™‚
    As far as marketing on social media, I follow farmers I buy from on FaceBook (in fact I get so attached I still follow people from 3 different states I lived in), it is always nice to get to know the place and to support it, to find out about what is coming up as far as veggies, volunteering or open house days or u-pick days, etc. Once I followed a farm, I assumed I was seeing all their posts, now you are making question do I really….
    CSAs often do e-mail newsletters.

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    • Bill says:

      I think I’ve posted about our worm bin in the past. Will look into that.

      Local history is my first love and after neglecting it for years I’ve been diving back in lately. I’m accumulating a lot of great stuff and need an outlet for it, so others can benefit from it. There just isn’t much time for writing in the summer and I already have a different writing project in mind for this winter.

      Oh well, I’ll figure it out eventually. Time now to start preparing for market tomorrow. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, I have a select few blogs that I follow and yours is one of them. Most are strictly gardening and that’s what connected me with your blog. The story of corporate successful man that gave it all up to return to the family homestead was fascinating to me. It seems that there’s always a new facet of social media on the table. First it was text email, then websites, and so on until now the media is blooming with new apps every day. YouTube brought us into the video world for the common person. It’s my favorite form of media today. Change is part of living life.

    I’m not sure how long I’ve been following your blog but it’s been quite a while. One of the things I like and am drawn to blogging is the way a connection can be made through commenting. I just don’t read or write blogs but I actually like to connect with the readers or the bloggers. One thing I like about your blog is the way it causes me to think and ponder different things. It’s been a tremendously growing process even though I would not connect with this blog if I came across it today. But the slow process has drawn me in and now it’s one of my first blogs to read when a new post comes up.

    Thank you so much for my brain food with each post.

    Like

  11. Joanna says:

    I enjoy the variety in your blog too. I think my blog used to have more variety and more comments but not so much these days. It is definitely a chronicle for us personally and I know folks read it, just don’t comment so much. I guess if I wasn’t so busy these days, I would explore more topics on the blog again, but I have a PhD to finish off first – then who knows!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Yours is one of the blogs I had in mind when thinking about those that are disciplined and focused. I’ve considered going to a format that would assure one post per week on what’s happening on the farm, or something like that. As you’ve said before, you are creating a journal/record of your life that you and others can look back on someday.

      Like

      • Joanna says:

        Not so sure about disciplined and focussed :D. I’m glad it appears that way at least but it does provide a good record more than anything and something I hope my own grandchildren will read some day

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  12. Zambian Lady says:

    I, as the others mentioned, like the variety of topics in your blog though I gravitate more to the homesteading one since I hope to do that one day. Your blog does still advertises your farm, though. I hope you will find something that works for you. Have a great and productive weekend.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      More often that not my posts are related to homesteading/farming. Hopefully I will manage to keep doing that, even as I venture onto other things from time to time.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Val says:

    You’ll actually have more readers if you focus more of writing about yourself and your other interests because that’s the way blogging works. I’ve been blogging (not on my current blog) more than a dozen years and it’s always the niche (specific subject) blogs that take more work to make successful. My own current blog is dragging well behind any more general ones I’ve done as it’s for a more specialized field, and I need to correct that soon. It’s getting a good balance, though, isn’t it?

    From what I’ve seen of it, your blog is good and interesting. The major thing with blogging success is connecting with other bloggers via comments, etc, but that takes time and not all bloggers have enough.

    By the way, a tip: use tags in your posts as that helps search engines like Google, and the internal tag search engine, show your posts to a wider readership.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I’ve never understood or used tagging. Maybe I should be better about that.
      I don’t think of the blog as a marketing tool, so I’m not really trying to get readers for the sake of more readers. I do enjoy the interaction with folks and I’m glad some find the posts interesting. We did try to use other social media for marketing, with success initially.

      Liked by 1 person

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