Building a Digital Community in the Agricultural Sector

By Liz Mortimer
23rd March 2020

Building a Digital Community in the Agricultural Sector

We are living in very strange times. The spread of coronavirus has shown us many things we have previously took for granted in our everyday lives and is rapidly changing the way we work and socialise.

Whilst the health concerns, empty streets and of course panic buying of toilet roll might be the headline-grabbing stories, the virus has posed deeper questions about our social relationships.

Human beings are social creatures and now we have to figure out ways to maintain our relationships at a distance.

Working in the Agriculture sector we are in some ways lucky as people will always need food. Farmers are used to working alone and outside, so social distancing isn’t such a challenge – but now marts are shut, farm visits are limited, and agriculture shows are being cancelled.

The National Farm Research Unit, part of the Map of Ag group, completed a poll last Summer to find out the main reasons as to why farmers attend agricultural shows. A resounding 45% said they attend simply for a nice day out! The already limited opportunities for farmers to socialise and meet up through work are being shut down. This could leave people in farming feeling even more isolated than usual.

For agriculture businesses who have relied on shows, events and farm visits as the main way of promoting their products and building customer relationships this sea change requires new thinking and a different approach.

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”

― John F. Kennedy

Taking the farm online

Whilst we can’t replace face to face meetings and the benefits they have, the idea that farmers are “different” from everyone else in terms of buying behaviour and that they don’t go online to the same extent is not actually true.  A recent Agriland survey showed that 60% of farmers prefer to get their information online.

The research also probed social media habits and preferences:

  • Almost two in five (37%) said that Facebook is the social media platform they use most often.
  • WhatsApp (19%) and Snapchat (13%) came second and third. Next up were Instagram (11%) and Twitter (7%).
  • WhatsApp is most often used amongst those aged 55-64 (28%). Snapchat is most often used amongst those aged 18-24 (32%).

You can read the full report here:

This crisis also represents an opportunity to build new ways to keep contact with your customers and keep offering the same advice and expertise as you would on farm, but to move it online.

Online strategy and digital marketing is what we do, and our agricultural and rural customers have already seen the benefit to their business from utilising social media, paid search and email marketing. The key advantage is that every pound invested in digital is measurable unlike more traditional methods like shows and print advertising, its also very flexible and budgets can be adjusted at the touch of a button.

In the coming weeks we will be working with clients to do even more to build relationships with their customers and provide support during this period through online channels.

When this crisis is over, our aim is that our clients will have even stronger customer networks, and more contact with their customer base through more channels. We believe that when this is over people will remember the companies who showed support, positivity and innovation and these will be the companies that weather the storm and come out stronger.

If you would like advice or guidance about how to build your digital community contact Hillsgreen today.


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