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Reaching Rural Markets Through Social Media

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Often, when asked about farmers and ranchers, most people think of a grizzled man driving a somewhat rusted old tractor through a field or a cowboy that drinks coffee out of a tin pot over a campfire at dawn.

The reality is most tractors have A/C, GPS, and Bluetooth enabled radios. Cattle ranchers have access to software systems that allow them to track health and breeding records using an ear tag with a microchip. Dairies have automatic milking machines that can recognize individual cows by their ear tags and determine milk quality and production.

So why do marketers assume that most rural communities and their members do not rely on social media to find goods and services? There is a huge disconnect between what is portrayed and what actually goes on in these areas and they leave a massive untapped market when it comes to social media marketing.

A friend of mine watched a worker wreck a combine into a grain cart because he was filming a Tik Tok. The rest of the workers then filmed the wreck and posted it on Facebook, Instagram and their own Tik Toks. Social media is ever present, sometimes even when it shouldn't be.

So, the question isn't whether or not social media is consumed, but how we reach customers and on what platforms.

Strategies That Work

Facebook is and continues to be the most used platform in the world with more than two billion users. The difference in marketing to a rural versus an urban population is what is more attractive to them. Rural communities rely heavily on each other for help when times are tough, harvest season, and for recommendations.

You would be hard pressed to find a business in a rural community that doesn't have a large "word of mouth" type following. In casual conversations as well as flat out arguments over who has the better coffee, people will give their opinion on just about anything.

The key is harnessing this to make it work for your business. Community interaction and engagement allows your business to become part of that conversation. Most people won't recommend a business simply because they went in and got what they needed, but they will recommend a business that they went in and had a conversation with the shop keeper about the better option of fertilizer and ended up talking about their summer garden plans.

Use Facebook as your "conversation" that used to happen in person. Engage your community by becoming part of it. As a business, you mean nothing. As Jane and John Doe who own the local coffee shop and donate coffee to first responders, you're a community member.

Plan your posts around events and goings on in your community. Find ways to become more involved and then use that to engage your customers, whether established or potential. Tag members of the community that have large numbers of friends or followings to have their audience view you as well. (Don't forget permission first!)

The biggest takeaway is don't rely on a typical marketing strategy because you're not wading through masses of businesses. You are competing for a brand loyal type customer who is willing to have a debate with their neighbor over a beer on who has the better burgers in town. Also, maybe don't drive and Tik Tok...

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