The Rise of Social Media Within New Zealand Agricultural Businesses

by Kelly on July 21, 2010

The statistics say it all; Social Media is here to stay…  But hang on, what about New Zealand agricultural businesses?  Most of the statistics out there are based on American studies and we all know that Americans love to talk, hence social media, which put simply is people talking to people, is of course going to take off in the USA.  They also have bigger companies, with bigger budgets, which means they have more resources to expend in this area.  So where does that leave the more conservative Kiwi within rural New Zealand, has Social Media really taken off among us?

Research for the NZX Agri rural publication readership was undertaken between 31st March and the 13th April as part of a quarterly omnibus survey of agri-businesses in New Zealand.  The omnibus survey interviewed 450 farmers. The graph below shows that while 44% mentioned farming publications as a source of farming information, 7% mentioned Internet and website as a source for Farming information (NZXAgri, 2010).  These results confirm that Social Media is not yet mainstream within the New Zealand agriculture industry.  Broadband access is something we are battling with in rural New Zealand at the moment and this could be holding farmers back from taking on social media applications, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  We do know that New Zealand’s next generation (Generation Y) of Farmers will be much more tech-savvy than their predecessors, having grown up with computers – ‘What you present to them as your Internet presence (including all web products, podcasts, etc.) is highly likely to impress them and you will gain 24/7 access to this segment of the market. Get your brand out there, online and offline, to build recognition for a market that will pay attention – especially if you “think outside the box” to set yourself apart from other brands. Generation Y lights up over innovative approaches’ (HREF 1).  The question I have then, is now the right time to be utilizing social media as a marketing tool within New Zealand’s agricultural industry?

Let’s take a look at The Farming Show, which is a Rural New Zealand brand with a strong and loyal following that has recently embraced social media as a marketing tool.  They have established for themselves a company Facebook page in February 2010 and now, only 4 months on they already have a following of 449 people.  That’s people that are genuinely interested in being a part of The Farming Show’s conversation and a member of their online community. The Farming Show is building a captive audience with which they can inspire, influence and engage with.  With Social media being about people talking with people, this means that The Farming Show will get word of mouth advertising that is faster, more targeted and more efficient than ever before.  While most in the New Zealand agricultural industry may be slow to take it on, this is positive for those businesses like The Farming Show that have taken the time to understand that where and how to compete for the future will earn that edge over their competition.  They are establishing for themselves an advantageous position to shape and steer the perception and build awareness of their brand.  You can view their Facebook page at http://bit.ly/acwBtn

In business, we learn through everything we do and it influences all that we try and repeat. When something new comes along, we tend to view it with either enthusiasm or scepticism, or in some cases a bit of both. Such is true with the advent of Social Media.  As business, marketing and service leaders, we face new challenges. We’re not quite sure how or why to implement the lessons and promises of social media into what we’re already doing. Nor do we understand how to experiment with it in ways that are safe and useful. We need answers, but questions and concerns face us at every step ahead (HREF 2).

Even though Social Media Marketing represents nothing short of a revolution in business, it starts with practical steps that help you find the answers to move forward with confidence and direction.  Who you appoint as your Social Media portfolio manager must be a good communicator, mature enough to understand that what they say can have long term ramifications to the business image, and responsible enough to ensure that your brand and its values are understood, respected and maintained to the highest standard at all times.  If you don’t have the time, or the staff to do this, then there is always the option of outsourcing this to a company like Wildfire.  Wildfire Solutions has helped businesses like The World of WearableArts (WOW) develop an online community using social media applications (Facbeook, YouTube  and Twitter).  WOW already have a Marketing Manager in place but realise the value of having a specialist in social media to develop and implement a successful Social Media Strategy.

Look out for my next blog where I will develop a set of questions that will help you decide whether Social Media is a good move for your brand.

References:

HREF 1: 2007, Ruth Klein – Branding, Marketing & Productivity Coach, http://www.thematuremarket.com/SeniorStrategic/-9409—5.html

HREF 2: 2010, Brian Solis – 7 Steps to Creating and Cultivating a Brand in Social Media, http://www.briansolis.com/2010/06/7-steps-to-creating-and-cultivating-a-brand-in-social-media/

David Patterson, South Island Field Agent, NZX Agri, 2010

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Carroll B. Merriman February 22, 2011 at 9:34 am

I absolutely agree!

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