From selling wool in Washington to making regular TV appearances, social networking has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for savvy rural business owners
Once upon a time, the only tweets you would expect UK farmers to care about were those coming from the crows raiding his crops. Today, however, you’re as likely to catch a farmer updating his Twitter feed as dishing out cattle feed.
Twitter is just one of the ways social media is giving rural business owners the chance to network across the globe, leading to thousands of new business opportunities every day.
But it’s not just a daily tweet about the weather that’s changing the face of farming. Thanks to the powers of virtual networking, Sue Hole from Purbeck has been able to diversify her family farm to create a thriving wool business, selling to customers across the globe. After being introduced to Instagram by her nephew, Sue used the app to tell their story and discovered that people were interested in what she had to say.
As the number of followers around the world grew, so did interest in her wool products which led to an increase in demand. Sue now has customers in Washington and New Hampshire who contact her through Instagram, and the business has been named in the top 20 yarns by the Campaign for Wool.
“Social media has allowed me to network,” says Sue. “Connecting with people is easy – you just need to be open-minded and share your experiences with the world – who knows where it will lead?”
For Welsh hill farmer Gareth Wyn Jones, social networking led to a career in TV and radio after he shared his experiences during the snowfall of 2013 on Twitter. By opening his virtual farm gates and inviting people to share his experiences, Gareth was able to connect with people he might not normally get the chance to meet.
“As an industry we need to reconnect with people in towns and cities, to connect with influencers and politicians via social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat,” he says. “We are not talking about entering into political debates; this is about sharing everyday experiences of how we balance our role as custodians of the countryside with the production of food and preservation of the natural environment.”
Gareth’s 1,000 followers are proof that people are indeed keen to hear about rural issues, but Gareth also believes that social media gives the industry a voice they have never experienced before.
“Social media is like a choir where many voices in harmony can make a far greater impact than individuals alone,” he says. “The more individuals who take part and share their lives with the public the greater the reach of the network and the more chance we have as an industry to shape public opinion and influence decision makers.”
Ideas like this would have been inconceivable ten years ago, but the power of virtual networking to influence buyers, marketers and decision-makers and to build real and lasting B2B relationships has been a game-changer for many rural businesses. New connections, new leads and new possibilities are at the fingertips of even the most remote landowner, where the uploading of a picture, a YouTube clip or a 140-character musing on the farming day has the potential to be read by anyone, anywhere.
Today, anyone can turn this phenomenon to their advantage. Social media is breaking down geographical barriers in a way that has never been possible before, giving farmers the chance to open up their farms to a global audience. People all over the world are hungry for new experiences – what better way to feed them than by farming through Facebook and other social media platforms?
Who are Social Jungle?
Industry experts Alison Teare and Simon Haley formed Social Jungle in 2016 to provide social media masterclasses, advice, strategy and training to the agriculture, food and rural business sectors.
We believe the positive power of social media offers massive opportunities for those who are willing to learn to use the social platforms to form strong relationships with existing and perspective customers, to build their brand and to market their businesses.
We are here to help! Get in touch …