There is a burgeoning interest among consumers in local foods, and the local food system is adapting to meet those consumers online. Consumers are staying home more and – whether this is a good thing or not – staying online more . Below, you will find resources showing how to stay connected with customers online by taking your business online.
With limited direct sales opportunities, many agribusinesses have sought alternative methods of getting their products to their communities. Online stores are one viable option to let your customers know that you still have fresh, local foods and goods to sell. Simple, online stores can also enable preorders for your products, which can then be picked up at a local farm or farmers market. Many customers prefer this option to ensure their needed products are available, and to minimize time spent among market crowds.
If you are looking for a simple, standard platform for online sales, Square offers a free online store option. The Growing Small Farms Extension website created a step-by-step webinar on setting up a Square online store. A recording of the webinar can be found here.
If you are interested in more specialized (though more costly) resources to support your online sales, the National Young Farmers Coalition has compiled a guide to direct sales software platforms designed specifically for farmers.
Building an online presence includes sharing your story in places where your customer base will see it. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults use Facebook and access it daily. Meanwhile, one-third of U.S. adults use other social media such as Instagram, with an estimated 59 percent of 15-29 year olds using Instagram. Among Millennials, over 90 percent are using social media daily.
When people are traveling less, social media presents a great opportunity to keep communicating with your community.
A few tips to remember:
- Facebook is a great starting point if you are new to social media. It has the greatest number of users, and will give you the broadest reach across age groups.
- Instagram is a great next step if you already use Facebook. Posts can be short, and this platform gives you the chance to share who you are visually with high-quality photos.
- Create a schedule for posting, and stick to it. Regular and consistent posting helps your customers know when to expect to hear from you, and to develop community among your followers.
- Follow the 80-20 rule: 80 percent of your content should entertain or educate your customers about your business (e.g. “a day in the life”), while only 20 percent should be “advertising.” Customers are less likely to continue following you if they feel like you are always trying to sell something.
A number of easy-to-use guides are available on how to maximize your marketing potential as a farm or agribusiness on social media. Here are a couple of resources:
Annie Baggett, Agritourism
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