Farmers, their customers, and short-form social media at #acenetc

Grethchen Perbix from Minnesota State University presented her research at the 2013 ACE-NETC conference. She was interested in the motivations of farmers and customers to use social media as a means of developing relationships with farmers.

Why do they use social media?

Her research project focused primarily around two farmers in Wisconsin who operate Living the Dream Farm. The farm is dedicated to raising Khaki Campbell ducks for eggs, pastured rabbits and geese for their grass-based meat, beautiful dual-purpose goats, delightful free range turkeys, heritage meat ducks & heritage chickens, as well as succulent organically fed broiler chickens. The farm also incorporated a kickstarter project.

For her study, Perbix interviewed the farmers and their followers, archived their publications, captured Facebook posts, comments, content, etc., and analyzed this material.

Here are some of the things that Perbix learned from the farmers and was willing to share:

  • social media is not just about selling, it is about sharing you existence.
  • avoided political rhetoric.
  • rather than post routine bad news, they posted exceptional bad news.
  • selling without selling; also, have customers show use of your content.
  • it is about building relationships not focusing on likes.
  • a good relationship is when the customers know the dogs names.
  • they included invitations to participate.
  • create engaging content.

When Perbix interviewed the customers, she learned:

  • shared values
  • felt motivations were genuine.
  • liked educational aspect
  • feel like you know the farmers
  • intimate connection.
  • they make you feel like you are there.

Frequency of posts was important to customers. Perbix provided some interesting numbers. 

Living the Dream Facebook numbers
Living the Dream Facebook numbers

The overall feedback of this farm was very positive. The farmers realized that the primary goal of using Facebook is to build relationships, to cultivate connections. This could best be done using photos rather than video and links.

Perbix offered three slides that summarized getting the most out of Facebook, I will share them here.

Facebook Tips

Facebook Tips

Facebook Tips

Perbix gave a very informative presentation; however, it had too much text. She had a wonderful opportunity to show memorable pictures of the farm to highlight her examples. I personally wished she had taken it.