In 2017, we saw an astounding increase in the number of companies utilizing social media to tell their brand’s story. Industries such as retail, hospitality and tech captivated their audiences by mastering the art of storytelling on free platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.
Take for example Taco Bell, whose Instagram strategy goes deeper than posting photos of burritos and tacos. The food giant uses bright and creative artwork to highlight their menu items; hosts launch parties for customers to take and post photos of new menu items on Instagram; and coordinates quirky photo shoots with Taco-incorporated clothing to emphasize the fact that Taco Bell is more than just a fast-food chain, it’s a culture.
These types of companies are effectively amplifying their messages through quick videos and imaginative images shot on their phone, creating a loyal fan base and an army of brand ambassadors. In the same way, we in agriculture can use social media to not only increase our connection to consumers, but to influence the public policy agenda that impacts our bottom lines.
One of Western Growers’ goals is to help you tell your story and to provide you with the resources and support needed to start sharing your own tales on the farm with consumers, legislators and other stakeholders. The more storytellers we have, the more people will hear our collective messages.
As we are deep into January and teams are starting to develop and finalize company goals and strategies for 2018, here are some general digital and social media predictions for the upcoming year to help guide your master plan.
1. The Use of Disappearing Videos Will Grow
Each month, 200 million people use Instagram Stories—the disappearing photo and video collections feature that the company replicated from Snapchat. It’s predicted that by the end of 2018, a majority of Instagram’s 500 million users will be using Stories.
Additionally, since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has infiltrated the digital world relatively fast. This photo-sharing messaging app racks up 150 million users daily, and Bloomberg suggests that Snapchat will continue to grow at a rapid pace.
Disappearing videos is escalating. This means that brands interested in connecting with Millennials and Generation Z must take the time to master Instagram Stories and Snapchat.
2. The Rapid Rise of Influencers
More companies are starting to invest in social media–based influencer marketing strategies to connect with new audiences. Social influencers—an “everyday” person with a large social media following—can do wonders for telling your story.
For example, the California Strawberry Commission has hosted numerous blogger tours where they reached out to food and nutrition influencers and invited them to participate in a two-day tour. The event showcased a behind-the-scenes look at the care that goes into strawberry farming in California communities and gave the personalities the opportunity to speak with real farmers and hear their stories. The result? A flurry of social media posts from each of the influencers to their audiences about the importance of agriculture.
3. Organic Reach is Dying. You Need to Pay to Play.
Yes, most social media platforms are free. However, Facebook, the largest social networking site with more than two billion monthly active users, requires you to pay to play in order to be heard. To maximize your reach on Facebook, you must invest in advertisements. This will result in ensuring that your current fan base is seeing your posts and will open the door to garnering new fans.
In 2017, Western Growers started “boosting” our video posts on Facebook. For a small investment of only $3 a day, we were able to target selected demographics to view our videos, such as Californians in the 25-45 age group who have an interest in agriculture and innovation, reaching thousands more people than we would have “organically.” By posting videos and utilizing ads this year, we gained 136 percent more new fans than in 2016 when we weren’t using Facebooks Ads.
It’s a brave new social media world, and agriculture must embrace the digital revolution and master all things social media. And it’s not just the brands that need to tap into the power of social networks. Everyone connected to agriculture, from the growers to the businesses that depend on farms, needs to become competent in digital storytelling.
It’s as easy as taking a selfie on the field and posting it to Facebook or writing a short tweet about how a piece of legislation will affect your farm. In this way, ag can better control the online messages being shared about our industry.
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