Social Media – The Bad and the Good
By Linda Fix
NYFB State Promotion and Education Committee
We hear good and bad things about the use of social media. While it is the latest way to communicate, there are so many dangers that come along with it. We hear about personal information being compromised. We have heard about Facebook being used to sway an election, stealing information from thousands of individuals. We hear that posts and pictures will be in the “vault” forever. It is important to use good judgement regarding what is put online. But there are also advantages.
What I like, is the part where I can communicate with our customers, keeping them informed about the farm activities. It begins in February when folks are asking “when will the cherries be ready?” I find that just one email going to 2,500 people will help a lot. It was really a blessing to learn about email marketing services, like Constant Contact, as a quick way to create an email and send out to so many with one push of the send button. The first “update” lets everyone know what is happening on the farm; how the trees look, when the first blooms are out. Many are very happy to get this email which starts the season off.
Facebook is very helpful to our farm, as pictures speak a thousand words. Our Facebook page will “blow up” when pictures or videos of the farm are posted. Again, this causes quite a bit of dialog with our customers. They share the photos and videos and want to learn more about us. It gives us a connection to our followers and helps us to grow and learn from others.
We joined Instagram three years ago, where we post photos. It was amazing to see the amount of people that started following our farm after that. The good thing about Instagram was the instant communication we had with those following us.
Creating a website is also very valuable to a business. Here, people can look you up and see where you are, and what you have to offer. I found that after an email was sent out, there were many who clicked on our website and Facebook page. This can be so valuable to your business when you depend on the public to come to your farm for your product.
While we use all these social media options, it is amazing that many people still want the post card. That was our first method of communication way back in 2001. It started with a piece of paper during our pick your own cherry season where we collected 100 names and addresses. The next season was peaches where the names and addresses doubled. To this day, we still send out 3,500 postcards three times a year announcing our pick-your-own seasons. Some people say send me email instead, but many still rely on the postcard to put up on the fridge as a reminder of the dates.
For those who have not joined on the social media bandwagon, I would suggest starting slow and get used to the attention that will come your way. If you want people to come to your farm or your business, this is definitely a great way to do it.