Farm Marketing: Using Instagram to market your dairy business
The key to the success of a diversified dairy business is farm marketing. However, with such narrow margins on each sale, it can be difficult to choose the right form of farm marketing.
Social media is an ideal platform for businesses that have low margins as they allow businesses to create targeted marketing content cheaply. But although social media is a fairly cheap form of farm marketing, it can be time-consuming and does require a certain level of skill to get the most out of it. In this blog, we are going to look specifically at using Instagram to market your dairy business.
What type of users will be on Instagram?
We can fall foul of thinking of Instagram users as teenagers, but the truth is that teens have now moved on to platforms such as Tiktok and the majority of active Instagram users are now aged between 20 and 40. This means that active Instagram users are predominantly millennials and some older Gen Zs.
These are people who have careers and are likely established in their living situations. They are also increasingly likely not to have children and to be more willing to spend money on experiences, or experience led products. They are also more likely to be educated consumers and to make purchase choices that they see as being ethical. This can include trends such as the increase in plant-based diets but it can also include trends towards buying more locally and choosing high-welfare animal products.
Using farm marketing to target Instagram users
The key to marketing to this type of customer is to communicate your story and educate them on why you are an ethical choice.
This type of customer will buy into the businesses that show their storytelling skills and can therefore create an emotional response from the viewer. This could include explaining the background of your farm and family. Maybe you are a 6th generation farmer who is trying to save their family farm through dairy diversification. Or maybe you are a new entrant who is striving to create a new type of dairy business and just need a break.
Consider the brand story that you want to present and make sure it is authentic to you. You can somewhat Disneyfy your brand story or simplify it to make it a clearer and more impactful farm marketing tool. But you must make sure it never becomes inauthentic. This generation of consumers believes strongly in buying from authentic businesses and looking beyond the traditional marketing hype.
You may be familiar with the phrase “a picture paints a thousand words”. This is very true of almost all social media platforms but for Instagram, imagery is central to its whole identity. Therefore, you need to ensure you can communicate your brand story as much through images as through words. If you or a family member is keen on their camera, this is a huge advantage on Instagram. Show your followers what life on your farm is like and show them your authentic self through images and videos.
You can also use imagery to educate your followers on how your dairy business is ethical. This could be related to your livestock management, or it could be related to your processing/packaging of products or indeed your waste management approaches. Remember, this is a consumer base who want to be educated and are likely to have very little knowledge of the dairy industry or agriculture as a whole. Keep things clear and simple: for video content, good examples include @thecalfgirl and @iowadairyfarmer amongst many others.
Make the educational content fun and highly accessible. You can extend this relationship building through answering questions in the comments and encouraging followers to send you their questions.
Getting the most out of Instagram for your farm marketing
Central to making the most of any social media platform is to work with the tools they give you. Currently, Instagram is really pushing its reels feature. This is in an attempt to stave-off market share loss from Tiktok. So, if you aren’t using reels, you are likely to find your reach significantly reduced. Reels can be scary when you first get started but practice makes perfect and it is another fantastic tool for educating your audience.
Some ideas for reels could include:
What happens to male calves on our farm?
A tour of our milking parlour! What system do we use?
Why do we use mob grazing for our cows? And what is it?
How do we make our ice cream? See our behind-the-scenes process!
Cheese tasting masterclass
Which cheese should I choose for my cheese board?
Why should you buy milk from vending machines rather than from the supermarket?
These are mostly educational but you can also have fun with reels such as dancing ones or following current trends in the audio choices, for example, the use of ‘’tik-tik boom’’ a few months ago.
As well as reels, make sure you are keeping up to date with the best hashtags to use for your business. As a rule of thumb, we suggest dividing your hashtags evenly between three areas: hashtags that are specific to the content/post/product (e.g. milk vending machine), hashtags that are about your business or sector more widely (e.g. UK Dairy), and hashtags that your ideal customer is likely to identify with (e.g. shop local). However, it is also worth mixing things up on occasion and trying out new hashtags to see how this impacts your views.
If you have a website or your products can be ordered online, make sure you get shopping links set up for your Instagram page and use them. This is another area that Instagram is pushing. It has been a slightly glitchy option in the past, but the recent updates seem to have reduced most of the bugs.
If your customers can’t shop through shoppable links for whatever reason, make sure you make it very clear and easy for them to find out how/where they can buy products. The harder you make it for them to purchase, the more abandoned orders you will have.