5 Ways for Farmers to Engage with Consumers Virtually this Back-to-School Season

By Shelby Bradford
August 28, 2020

Oringinally published by Feedstuffs.

Since well before COVID-19 impacted our daily lives, agriculture brands and organizations have engaged with consumers online to help educate them on where food comes from and how it makes it from farm to table. The past six months has been no different, although the way messages are shared has changed significantly.

Since the earliest months of 2020, the agriculture community has walked the fine line between being straightforward with audiences about the challenges they have faced—such as being understaffed and working longer hours—and sharing positive messages to ensure their followers that we’re all in this together.

Now, we’ve entered a season that’s been a point of great discussion for months: back-to-school. Some school districts will take a mixed approach, while others will teach in-person or go fully remote. Either way, parents, students and teachers will face challenges they likely haven’t faced before. So, how can we, as food producers, engage with them productively on social media, no matter their learning situation?

  1. Offer virtual tours. Whether it’s a tour of your farm or food production company, educators and parents will love showing their students all that goes into producing the food they eat every day. Making tours as educational as possible will maximize usability in the classroom and at home. Remember to define terms and phrases that might seem like common language to agriculturalists but are considered industry jargon to others.
  2. Host Instagram takeovers. Invite experts to “take over” your brand’s Instagram account for a day! Hosts could include association members, farmers, employees, industry experts and livestock showmen, to name a few. These, too, can be educational – the goal is for takeovers to show viewers what a day in the life of the host is like. For example, if a farmer hosts a takeover, they could show followers what a day at work looks like, whether that’s feeding cattle, packing products, harvesting crops, or showing off a new piece of farm equipment.
  3. Create engaging educational materials. If your company already has educational materials on-hand that could be useful to parents or educators, now would be the time to share them on social media channels. This could include quizzes, lesson plans, tutorial videos, experiments, or webinars.
  4. Launch virtual influencer workshops or chats. Don’t underestimate the value of influencer partnerships, especially during a time when more people than ever are online. Consider hosting a live virtual chat or workshop with an influencer or a group of influencers to discuss a certain topic or do an activity together. For example, during the back-to-school season, gather a few prominent food bloggers together to do a live cooking demo of some easy, kid-approved recipes for parents to try making at home, or to discuss creative ways to use the food product your company produces.
  5. Easy, Family-Friendly Recipes. For brands that feature recipe content, try shifting the strategy to focus on recipes that would be especially kid-friendly or easy to make. Think through those that could be made with simple, easy-to-find ingredients in larger batches, prepped ahead or even frozen and reheated for a quick meal. These types of recipes will come in handy for busy parents trying to adjust to a new and likely challenging school schedule.

Remember, reassess digital strategies regularly to ensure brands are reaching its audiences effectively and sharing compelling content. Farmers play an essential role in feeding families across the nation, so leverage creative online tactics to help share that important story.