More local farmers are relying on social media to survive pandemic

Social media is a great way for businesses to connect with their customers, especially if they are in rural Maine during a pandemic.

Maine farmers are no strangers to social media, but the pandemic has made the need for a strong and responsive social media presence even clearer for many of them. In recent years, farm organizations have offered more social media training, and farmers in Maine have reaped the benefits.

Abby Sadauckas, owner of Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham, said social media is important for her farm to attract new customers and connect with existing customers as well. Apple Creek Farm is, admittedly, Instagrammable, with its breathtaking views, happy cattle, and charismatic Great Pyrenees that show its hazy cup in many posts.

“If we looked at our posts by week and our sales by week, there’s a direct correlation there,” Sadauckas said. “We see an increase in our weekly orders when we take the time to publish a post and use the Instagram feature where you can link directly so people can go directly to our website.”

She went from a complete lack of a social media presence to a Facebook and Instagram page with over 2,000 subscribers each. The number of subscribers, however, matters less to Sadauckas than the connection with his existing customers. Social media, especially in a crowded market, helps it stand out from the crowd.

“You want to connect with your customers and justify why they are buying from you,” Sadauckas said. “It allowed us to really engage and activate the people who follow us. Even though it sometimes seems superfluous, I have the impression that when it works, it is a benefit to our farm. “

Some newer farms in Maine have even started with just an online social media presence. Angela Baglione, co-owner of Seek-No-Further Farmstead in Monroe, said when they started their business in 2019 the farm’s only online presence was on Facebook and Instagram.

“They were both very helpful in getting our name known, as the use of hashtags meant locals found us even if they did a general search for local farms,” ​​Baglione said. “I think social media is a great way to make your farm feel personal and specific to your customers. Making them feel like you are their farmer and that this is their farm by appearing on their feed alongside their friends and family is a great gateway to familiarity.

Baglione said she was able to strengthen her online presence through personal familiarity with the platforms. But Sadauckas and other farmers have taken advantage in recent years of social media training for farmers offered by a number of Maine-based organizations, such as the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the Maine Federation of Farmers. Markets.

Emily Buswell, program associate at the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets, said her organization has been providing social media training for about four years. This is usually done in the winter, when farmers have a little more downtime.

Buswell said most of those who come to the training are new farmers trying to break into the scene and attract customers, but the demographics can run the gamut.

Quality photography is especially important to Maine farms on social media – enough that people like Kelsey Kobik have made it their career. Kobik is an agricultural photographer who has conducted workshops to teach farmers how to take better quality photos on the fly, even with their phones. She also runs the social media page for Goranson Farm in Dresden.

The pandemic has changed many of Maine’s farms’ relationships with social media, making it much easier for them to communicate with their customers in order to get them products, as well as to issue public health regulations for the markets they serve.

“Farmers were giving more frequent updates on things; many markets across the state started using a pre-order system to let people know when orders were open using their social media, ”said Buswell. “The pandemic has encouraged farmers to use this as the fastest and broadest way to reach their buyers and supporters.”

Before the pandemic, Sadauckus said she would sell all of her produce in farmers’ markets. Social media allowed it to quickly transition to an online store where customers could shop and set up a pickup location.

“It really helped us onboard a lot of new clients,” Sadauckas said. “We have seen a fairly significant increase in sales in 2020.”

Even though Maine farms that have taken the time to work on their social media presence have seen results, Tori Jackson, president of the Maine Farmer Resource Network and extension professor for agriculture and natural resources at the University from Maine, don’t think every The Farm needs to engage in social media in the future. Farmers raising crops and livestock for the wholesale market might need it less than, say, a farm looking to build a fan base for agritourism.

“It totally depends on who their client is,” Jackson said. “There are some businesses that this won’t necessarily make sense and others where it would be a wasted opportunity not to take advantage of it as free marketer, in quotes.”


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