Friday, April 25, 2014

Social Media and Farming Go Hand in Hand at Marini Farm

Mike Marini is rarely seen without his tablet or cell phone during the workday, as he is always ready to be in position to capture the next photo to share what is growing at the farm. He enjoys using social media to tell the farm’s story; give updates during the harvest season; promote the CSA; provide calendar updates on farm family events; answer consumer inquiries and more. It is a powerful tool in Mike’s tool box, as the farm’s 6,539 Facebook followers are actively following every planting and harvesting motion. Weekly engagement for this week was 13,869 which indicates that people want to know what the farm is up to.

Farming is a visual industry, so Mike enjoys having the community follow his workday and see in real-time what is happening at the farm. A recent post showing the first 20 acres of corn planted, was followed the next day by a photo of snow-covered acres. This type of post allows consumers to follow the challenges faced in everyday farming, so people feel as if they have a direct connection to the farm. Social media posts also allow Marini to show its commitment to producing the best quality crops possible.

The farm has been in the Marini family for four generations, so family is at the core of everything they do. Therefore, their social media presence reflects their real-life values - gratitude, family, good food and quality of life. The recent Facebook post, “Took a break from farming for another family wedding; the Marini’s dance like nobody's watching,” showed the Marini children dressed in matching colorful floral wedding attire dancing and having fun. The post received 12,028 views and 528 likes, making it the highest engaged photo of the year thus far.

Farmers now have their own term for a selfie on the farm and are posting their ‘felfies’ next to their favorite sheep, crops and tractors. During harvest, Farmers Weekly gets thousands of pictures via Twitter and Facebook and some farmers have become top social media celebrities on Instagram and YouTube. There is even a blog - Farming Selfie - set up by a UK farmer @willwilson100 that shows all the latest felfies from around the world. According to the book Future of Farming, 76 percent of farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 use social media to share knowledge, connect with consumers, and promote their business. Social media offers farmers a unique way to educate the general public about what they do, the practices they use, and the challenges they face. During harvest season, Farmers Weekly gets thousands of pictures via Twitter and Facebook.

Just like with new farming techniques, Mike is always learning about, and incorporating new social media tools. He saves everything to EverNote, a management platform app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use and lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders and save important documents. Mike reports that EverNote captures his every move, and is an app he simply can’t live without.

In 2013 Marini developed a new app for their customers to get updates on all the events and activities at the farm. They're free, and keep you up-to-date on the happenings at Marini's farm throughout the season and they are available for both Apple and Android devices. You'll know when the delicious Marini strawberries are ready to be picked, and when the corn is in, without having to go to the website. The Marini app also provides lists of events; CSA info; nutritional info; loyalty coupons; a way to share photos with the farm; access to Marini's Facebook page; a gallery of pictures of happenings at the farm; the history of Marini Farm; a fun "Fruit Salad" game to play, and more.

“Social media is a visual playground showing our love for farming and commitment to provide customers with the best quality produce possible,” states Mike Marini. Some of Marini’s favorite Facebook posts thus far in 2014 were:

Prepared by Lightning Consulting