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The 5 w’s of connecting with your target audience

In the world of PR/marketing/communications initiating and cultivating relationships with target audiences is key to building trust and credibility; making those crucial, two-way connections with target audiences in the agriculture sector is no less important.

And with the advent of social media and mobile capabilities it’s easier than ever. In fact, if you have a smartphone there’s really no excuse why you shouldn’t be able to reach out to those important clients, stakeholders, and consumers because you can do it from the barn, the tractor or the top of the silo!

Who – How will you know who to connect with? Easy. Don’t forget that you’re a consumer as well so just put yourself in their (or your!) shoes: who would you want to talk to about important issues related to farming? Probably the person growing and/or processing the food. Lucky for you, that’s your specialty. ;-P So turn it around, seek out off or online places where consumers go to look for information, and start creating, posting and sharing relevant content on those platforms.

What – The experts in Social Media Land say “Content is king”. Basically, this means keep the manure in the barn where it belongs and share information, stories, articles, insights, etc. that offer something of value. And remember: what might seem mundane and everyday to you will be new to thousands of people. Don’t forget that Canada’s farmers make up about 1.7% of the country’s population – meaning that almost 98% are ‘farmless’ and have little to no idea how a farm works. Again, consider how you would approach learning about something new: what kind of information do you look for and where? What questions do you ask and to whom? This will help you create a limitless supply of content ideas.

When – What time of day (or maybe even month or year) should you post and share content? We’ll use Facebook as an example, because with almost 700 million users you don’t want to neglect this social media platform. Facebook offers lots of metrics (click on the ‘View Insights’ tab of your Facebook page) to help you learn when the best times to post online are. Insights also offers a ton of other info to help you hone your content (are there more male than female followers? What age group? Where do they live?) Because many types of production are seasonal keep this is mind when looking for shareable content to ensure you get the most engagement (which not only means people ‘liking’ your content, but sharing it among their friends as well): posting helpful hints on how to choose an apple variety or encouraging people to share their favourite maple syrup recipes would be ideal in fall and spring respectively.

Where – At this point in the social media/online game there are almost hundreds of platforms you can use to share content. Which one you choose will depend on what you want to accomplish. For example, if you want to share your everyday experiences in detail to make people really feel like they’re right there alongside you a blog might be a good idea. If you want to showcase various products made from the produce you grow then maybe Pinterest is the ticket. If you want to be silly and fun or add the reality TV factor to your outreach you could try YouTube or Vine videos. Experiment and you’ll find out whether that’s where your target audience is hanging out and if they’re engaging;  if not, try something else. A word of caution: choose a few platforms and stick with them; don’t try to be everywhere or everything to everyone. You’ll get discouraged, give up, and lose out on many opportunities to grow your business and promote your industry.

Why – You might be saying to yourself, “Is this girl nuts?! Like I don’t have enough to do in my minimum 12 hour work day on the farm I’m supposed to start making videos, writing blogs, and posting pictures a few times a day?!” First, don’t inundate your followers with a post every five minutes; they’ll get as annoyed at being bombarded as you will with doing it. Pick and choose a few best content pieces for the day; if you’ve found 10 great articles you’d like to share either keep a running list of links back to those pages in a Word document or bookmark the web pages to return to them later. Second, choose something you’re good at and enjoy: maybe you’re an amateur photographer. In that case, snapping a few pics with your phone throughout the day and sharing those online with a succinct and clever caption can often be enough (remember ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’). If you have lots to say and love offering up opinions or advice maybe a blog is for you (which can be linked to and subsequently shared across other social media platforms). If brevity is your thing, try Twitter where you can say all you want to say in 140 characters or less (you can also share links and photos) throughout the day.

Need help figuring it all out? That’s what we’re here for!

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