Sometimes in the rush and routine for everything, it can be easy for us to forget that not everyone is comfortable with or knows just how to get started in social media, or with any online tools for that matter. In my article for Progressive Forage Grower magazine this month, I’ve shared 5 tips to get you started building your online presence in a way to build your business.

Do me a favor and head on over to Progressive Forage Grower and read the article. Then chime in with your suggestion in the comments section and share it with your friends and family!

Online tools for forage growers

When was the last time you Googled the name of your farm or business? Chances are something appeared in the results. In agriculture circles, you often hear about the importance of online and social media presence in the context of advocacy and connecting with consumers for conversations centered on our food supply.

The value of these online tools may often be overlooked or underestimated for farmers and agriculture producers who have little to no direct contact with food consumers; producers like much of the Progressive Forage Grower audience. However, there are advantages to being present online and engaging in the conversations that may benefit your bottom line.

Make your website informative and engaging
Your potential customers are likely looking online for information on future purchases, which may include anything from grass seed to bales of hay. Make sure your online presence visibly provides information about your business, contacts and resources that your audience will find useful. Engaging content such as Frequently Asked Questions or providing the latest markets or mobile tools your potential customers can utilize will reflect well on your business and bring your audience back for another visit.

Utilize social media to build connections
Building online connections with peers in the industry, potential customers, and potential suppliers is a valid reason to join social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Look up conversations in your respective business area through Facebook pages, or follow Twitter conversations using hashtags (search terms) like #forages or #agchat. It’s similar to meeting people in the local coffee shop, only the tables aren’t restricted to your hometown.

Learn from other conversations
There is great value in listening to conversations occurring on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and open forums. I have learned more about other sectors of agriculture through engaging in social media conversations than I ever would have learned otherwise. This in turn helps me to understand more about my role in agriculture and discover tools that producers are using in other regions of the country that can adapt to my own.

Utilize images and video to convey your message
By far, the most popular form of media consumed online is in visual formats. Farms, agricultural landscapes and community events are the perfect opportunity to capture information in visual, audio, and digital formats. Capturing your audience’s short attention spans by sharing information through video and photos is not only more effective, it may also be easier than sitting down to write up a 500-word essay for every bit of information you want to share.

Contribute to other conversations
Marie Bowers Stagg, featured earlier in Progressive Forage Grower, works with her father in Oregon’s Willamette Valley on the family’s grass seed farm. As she describes it, even though food shoppers at the retail level may not directly consume your product, you still play an integral part in the food supply chain.

According to Marie, “The grass we produce is integral part of getting steak, lamb chops and milk to the dinner table. Online I have been able to connect with producers and consumers of meat and dairy. I learn more about information they want to know and hopefully they understand a little bit more about how food arrives at their table.”

Online platforms are here to stay as a means of communication and sourcing information. Joining the conversation and making sure your web presence reflects your business well is one step in making sure you are keeping up with the pace.  FGOnline tools for farm and ranch businesses

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