Kickstarting Digital Development
Beyond the blogosphere and Twitterverse, farmers have tapped into other marketing channels to raise awareness for their causes. Maryland’s largest organic farm, One Straw Farm, has taken to Kickstarter as a way to harness digital influence and online fundraising for the development of two mobile apps.
The first app would provide a way for farmers to communicate with consumers on a weekly basis throughout the harvest season, while the second app would assist farmers with keeping records. No enterprise is immune from the need for record-keeping, and for an industry where the bulk of time is spent in the field (literally), this app would alleviate issues with recording procedures by enabling farmers to update their records from anywhere.
While, unfortunately, One Straw Farm’s campaign has fallen short of its fundraising goals, a simple search for “farm” on Kickstarter shows that numerous other agribusinesses are having success using the platform to raise funds for farm-related business endeavors. Even when a campaign fails to reach its fundraising goal, Kickstarter is still a valuable platform for increasing visibility of a business as a whole.
The media onslaught condemning the use of “pink slime” has made clear the growing focus on the farm-to-table movement, giving those in agribusiness yet another reason to turn to social media.
Ecotrust’s desire to connect professional buyers and sellers is what sparked the creation of its popular social networking platform FoodHub. FoodHub’s purpose is to provide an online community that connects farmers and ranchers with buyers and distributors. With this connection, buyers (who can range from chefs to school dining service directors) can easily obtain background information and stories about specific farmers and ranchers and their operations.
While the network is currently only available in the western U.S., FoodHub presents a great opportunity for all types of buyers to capitalize on the farm-to-table movement by hand-picking the farmers and ranchers they want to work with.
In addition to using platforms like FoodHub, farmers are also using social media on a personal basis to tell their farm’s story, give updates during the harvest season, promote upcoming farmers’ markets, answer consumer questions and more.
Self-described “Farm Girl” Erin Ehnle has spent all of her 20 years living on a farm, and now uses multiple social media platforms to share her experiences. Part-photographer, part-writer, and full-fledged farmer, Erin shares stories about her family’s central Illinois farm with more than 13,000 Facebook fans and a loyal blog following. Through photos, tweets, infographics, Pinterest, heartfelt blog entries and sharing informative articles, Erin proves the value of social outreach for farmers and small business owners alike.
Far beyond Farmville, agribusinesses are taking their experiences from farm to Facebook, showing that social media plays an important role in the industry’s B2B and B2C communications. By prioritizing the education of farmers and ranchers on the merits of embracing digital communications, the agriculture community has quickly taken advantage of social media to conduct outreach on a budget.
Carolyn Baumgarten is the community manager for SociaLogic, a Chicago-based full-service social media marketing agency.