Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don't Get Left in the Cold. Use Social Media to Connect with Your Customers!


With sixty-five percent (65%) of internet users using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and others (Pew Internet, 2011), social media can justifiably be considered a legitimate marketing tool by businesses large and small.  In fact, in a survey by Chief Marketer, 92% of respondents indicated that they either were using or planned to use social media for marketing of their brands.

Farmers and small ag business owners shouldn't overlook the power that social media tools provide in connecting with consumers.  Surveys conducted by two of my colleagues, Kathy Kelley and Jeff Hyde, in May 2010 with consumers who used social media, found that over 30% of respondents expected farmers' market/on-farm markets and U-Pick operations to have Facebook presence.  Consumers' expected use of Twitter and blogs by these types of ag businesses hovered around 20%.  I would expect that surveyed again two and a half years later, we would see these results, or expectations, to be higher yet.


Consumers' Expected Internet Presence by Type of Food Business




But having a social media presence, or profile, on any of these tools isn't enough.  You need to provide consumers with a reason to "like" or follow your business.  When questioned on why they connect with businesses on social media, approximately 60% of the individuals responding to Kelley and Hyde's survey indicated that they did so to learn about new products/direction of the business, while almost half wanted to learn about sales before the general public.

Expectations by Consumers who Follow Businesses on Social Networks

We see that the evidence exists that consumers expect ag and food businesses to exist on social networks, as well as to provide them with things that they value in return for following them.  You probably also have your own reasons, or objectives, for committing to developing and sustaining a social media presence for your business.  By developing a social media strategy, you can ensure that you, and your followers, get what you need from a social media relationship.

If you own, or are involved with, a farm or small ag business in Pennsylvania, and want to jump into the world of social media with a guiding hand, Penn State Extension can help.  Come to one of three scheduled Social Media Boot Camps for Ag Businesses.  These two-day workshops will give you a hands-on opportunity to develop Facebook, Twitter, and foursquare/Yelp profiles, as well as mapping out your personal social media marketing objectives and strategy. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why Should You Care About Analyzing Your Social Media Presence?

In the development of a social media strategy, or any strategy for that matter, measurement and analysis plays a key role.  Without this, how does one know whether they've accomplished what they've set out to do? Simply, they don't.  Below are brief introductions to just a few of the analysis tools available for three of the most popular social media tools out there - Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Facebook
Insights. Facebook provides administrators of Pages with their own internal measurement and analysis tool, Facebook Insights.  Not only can you get simple demographic data about the people who "like" your page, you can get a breakdown on the level and type of interactions that are occurring when you post content. Paying attention to Insights data can help you provide the content your followers value, a key to measuring the success of your social media strategy.

Check out my blog post on using Facebook Insights.


Twitter
TweetReach. This third party tool measures the activity of your tweets.  Enter a search term - hashtag, username, keyword, URL, etc. - and TweetReach will generate a report telling you how many accounts were reached, how many impressions were generated by the tweets, the types of tweets in the report (tweets, replies, or retweets), and the top contributors.

There are both free and paid TweetReach account types.  Unless you're a real data junkie that thrives on real-time monitoring of your tweets, the free account will probably meet your needs. 


Pinterest

PinPuffPinPuff provides you a score, similar to Klout, for your Pinterest activity.  It also attempts to measure your reach, activity (influence), and the virality of your pins.  While I don't find these scores particularly helpful - descriptions of what the scores mean are vague and seem subjective - the quick stats are nice.  PinPuff gives you, for both your overall Pinterest account and each of your boards, the number of followers, repins, and likes; numbers that are hard to come by on Pinterest.

www.pinerly.com
Pinerly. This is a tool that I'm just beginning to check out.  Pinerly lets you create campaigns with your Pinterest pins, adding a few analytics (click-throughs, likes, repins, reach) to your pinning activity that Pinterest doesn't fully provide.  From what I've seen by creating one campaign for our Social Media & Mobile Tech webinar series, Pinerly seems best suited for pins where you want the viewer to ultimately take an action (registering for an event, purchasing a product, etc.)

Multiple Tools
Klout. Klout attempts to determine people's level of influence by measuring their interactions on social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, foursquare, etc.).  Your Klout score, a number between 1 and 100, is calculated by looking at aspects of social media engagement - likes, comments, re-tweets, shares, etc.  The number of followers or friends you have doesn't impact your Klout score; engagement is the only thing that matters.  Klout is also the only tool (in this list at least) that draws together information from all of your social media accounts.

www.Klout.com
Are there social media analysis tools that you're using and find valuable? Tools that you know of, but would like to learn more about?

To learn more about social media analysis tools and how to effectively use them as part of your social media strategy, check out Penn State Extension's upcoming webinar series - Social Media and Mobile Technology for Ag Businesses - where you can learn about this, and other great topics.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Learning a Little Bit About the PA MarketMaker Partners (part 2)

Continuing on in this series on the MarketMaker partners, below are 2 more agencies in the MarketMaker network.

Pennsylvania Winery Association (http://www.pennsylvaniawine.com/)  
The PA Winery Association is a non-profit trade association organized to:
  • assist in providing markets for our members
  • provide assistance in developing merchandising materials, publicity, promotion & marketing effort to increase Pennsylvania wine sales
  • provide forums for the exchange of information & experience among members
  • sponsor & support legislation & regulations that will benefit PA's wine industry and to oppose those which will be detrimental.
With nearly 160 wineries located in the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania wine industry has experienced vibrant growth for more than a decade. The opportunities for commerce have also expanded; allowing wine sales by the glass, 100 off-site special permits for sales, and recently, legislation was passed to allow wineries to apply for an annual farm market permit. With the growing popularity of local foods, the amount of markets has expanded across Pennsylvania. Today, wineries are able to register to provide samples and sell wine by the bottle at farm markets. Pennsylvania wineries are excited about their opportunities to participate in farm markets and to be featured alongside other local foods. 



Farm to City (farmtocity.org)   
Farm to City is a Philadelphia- based program whose goal is to unite communities, families, and farmers year-round through locally grown food.   In 2012, Farm to City will operate 16 farmers' markets including 12 established markets, 2 existing markets in new locations, and two new markets. In addition to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, many of the markets feature meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products from pastured animals.
Farm to City also offers use of its website and administrative web tools to any organization that would like to run a local food buying club or CSA in its own community. Farm to City is committed to the promotion and proliferation of viable, self-sustaining local food networks across the country. The affiliate program is designed to help organizations start and manage a local buying club or CSA.

Are you a member of either one of these organizations?  How have they helped you market your products or learn about your industry?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Learning a Little Bit About the PA MarketMaker Partners (part 1)


When you create a profile using PA MarketMaker (PAMarketMaker.com), you will notice that you are able to identify yourself as a being a member of any of our partner organizations.  These partners have helped us bring MarketMaker to Pennsylvania and have helped their members join the MarketMaker network.  Below is a little bit of info about 2 of our partners.  I will continue the series in subsequent posts.

PA Preferred (http://papreferred.com/)  
This state-supported agricultural marketing program is sponsored by the PA Department of Agriculture (PDA).  The program was launched to identify and promote food and agricultural products grown, produced or processed in Pennsylvania.  To promote Pennsylvania products, the program's mission is to assist Pennsylvania producers with product sourcing and referrals including making sure the producers’ products reach the right distributors, retailers, restaurants, schools, universities, and healthcare facilities.

Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association (http://www.pvga.org/) 
Every year, PVGA co-hosts the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Hershey, PA.  The Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention has become the premier grower meeting in the Northeast combining three days of six or more concurrent educational sessions with a large industry trade show and numerous networking opportunities - all designed to enable fruit, vegetable and berry growers as well as direct marketers to stay on the cutting edge of their industries. About 1,900 people from throughout the mid-Atlantic region and beyond gather each year at the Hershey Lodge for the Convention. Registration is open to all interested commercial fruit, vegetable and berry growers, direct marketers and allied industry personnel.

Are you a member of either one of these organizations?  How have they helped you market your products or learn about your industry?