My friends all know that I spend a fair amount of time on social media platforms – I have personal Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter accounts and I use them all. They are great online directories, great ideas resources and above all satisfy the nosy side of me quite nicely thank you!
But, they are good for business too. I’ve been following some great examples during the start to the English apple season. No names, but three gentlemen stand out: great pictures and films (only taken on a smart ‘phone, no big investment required) all about how harvest is going, what beautiful places they live and work in and also some examples of pretty spectacular pieces of kit they have been investing in. So what, you may say, but these messages, these casual posts leaning out of a tractor cab have travelled some distance now. If you think that the average member of Facebook has 338 friends and they shared with their friends and so on, this snapshot of “today on my farm” suddenly becomes very significant.
How about the one who has a wonderful new grader and shared videos on Facebook and Twitter, he copied in his retail partner who has hundreds of thousands of friends online, now do you see how much impact this has? Of course it’s easy to do the reverse and cause damage: one bad meeting with your agent or retail partner and you can shoot yourself nicely in the foot with some well delivered pictures of piles of waste and words beginning with “w” or “b”!
Its been interesting to search out farmers who are sharing news in this casual way, proud of what they do and to see what the reaction of their friends has been – its always favourable, there is lots of sharing going on. It amounts to a lot of free publicity to a sector desperately in need of raising the consumer’s perceptions of the value of their products. There are lots of good examples of people doing it well: perhaps it’s time that the large proportion of the British farming establishment that condemns social media woke up to this key means of engagement and allowed more of it to go on?
The fruit show education programme has been into the first school of this academic year, and with visits that amount to 1,200 children already in the books, the lovely Sam Smith is set for a busy time. Show fruit will go to schools this year, as will some from Loddington Farms, Avalon Produce and AC Goatham and Son. If the initial reaction to apples straight from the trees is anything to go by this is going to be the most amazing year for the flavour of our home grown fruit. If you have a connection with a school in Kent or the neighbouring counties, a visit from Sam is fully funded, key stage 2-linked throughout the curriculum and will get the children eating lots of apples, pears and berries. For more information please visit the National Fruit Show website www.nationalfruitshow.org.uk