No doubt, social media has had an enormous impact on the way we communicate both personally and professionally. But being such a new medium with widespread access, it can be difficult to find good examples to follow when launching a business campaign.
Social media is exactly that – social. It’s not designed to be a hard-sell platform, but rather an avenue to create and build relationships. It epitomizes the fact that people do business with people they like, giving you the opportunity to help potential customers get to know you, perhaps even before they are in the market for your product or service.
The potential for agricultural businesses and organizations to use social media to connect with their audiences is tremendous. Never before have we seen such high levels of consumer interest in learning about where their food comes from, and knowing the people who produced it.
In this mini-series from Laura Bodell of Bella Spur Innovative Media Inc., we are going to look at a few of the social media platforms available, and examples of companies and not-for-profits that are using them well.
Web logs, or blogs as they are commonly referred to, have become extremely popular as a means to tell one’s own story in an open-discussion format. A blog is comprised of single-entry posts, generally displayed in reverse chronological order, by one or multiple authors.
There are many factors contributing to what makes a good professional blog, but here are a few that are particularly important:
- Visual branding. This is visitors’ first impression – before they read a single post, they will have formed an opinion of your blog based on what they see. As with any online medium, the design should be consistent with your company or organization’s visual branding. We always recommend hiring a professional to design and customize your blog, because a positive first impression is critical.
- Conversational tone. Your ultimate goal is to engage readers and encourage discussion through their comments. This will drive repeat traffic.
- Readable posts. This is three-fold. Posts should be interesting, visually pleasing and brief.
- Regular updates. It’s important to post often enough to keep people coming back.
- Functional. As you continue to add content, it becomes ever more important to make it easy for visitors to sort through previous posts. Functionality to consider might include: search bar, monthly archive, quick-link categories or tags, and in-post links to related posts.
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Who is doing it well
The following are blogs that I myself read regularly. Each are unique and use different techniques to meet their readers needs. All three are great examples of blogs for rural or agricultural lifestyles.
Business: Laura’s Lean Beef
Laura’s Lean Beef is a branded beef company selling extremely lean beef products to health-conscious consumers. They know their audience very well, and have created a blog that builds their rapport with this group.
- A link to the blog is included in the main navigation on their website.
- There are multiple contributors who are experts regarding subjects of importance to Laura’s Lean Beef’s audience (nutrition, healthy lifestyle, parenting).
- Posts provide information on topics that interest their customers, from dietary advice and recipes, to exercise and kid’s craft ideas.
- The posts are a quick read, and almost always include images.
Non-Profit: Calgary Stampede
More than just the summer fair, Calgary Stampede is an agricultural society that promotes the western lifestyle year round. Their blog is part of a re-branding effort to maintain contact with their audience all year long.
- The blog features multiple contributors, from every facet of the organization – directors, staff and volunteers – which increases engagement both internally and externally.
- Posts are comprised of a wide variety of topics, including event coverage (their main income), personal interviews, feature-style articles and posts encouraging discussion on controversial issues such as rodeo and chuckwagon racing.
- Their contributors and editors do a great job of maintaining a conversational tone.
- They make good use of images to break up heavy content and add personal touch.
- It’s easy to find info with search, categories and archives.
Personal: The Pioneer Woman
Ree Drummond is one of the most successful bloggers in the world. She has built an empire based on her personal blog, which chronicles her life as a farm wife,that now includes a revenue-producing blog, two cookbooks, a recipe site, a novel and a movie that’s in production. Here is a link to her post on blogging tips, which are relevant to businesses and non-profits as well: http://thepioneerwoman.com/blog/2010/09/ten-important-things-ive-learned-about-blogging/
By Laura Bodell, Bella Spur Innovative Media Inc.