Social Media Down on the Farm
Through the courses in the Sustainable Agriculture program here at CCCC students are exposed to a broad variety of topics and experiences that will well prepare them to go on to work on a sustainable farm, work in a food co-op, or be a part of the management of a farmers market. We learn how to propagate plants using multiple methods, we learn how to harvest and wash fresh vegetables for packing CSA boxes; we learn how to budget, plan and schedule at a crop level as well as for a whole farm. We learn how to drive a tractor, assemble a drip irrigation system and how to safely use a chain saw to cut down a tree. We learn how to take soil samples, interpret the resulting analysis and properly amend the soil in a manner that enhances its goodness and health as the seasons go by. All of these are good and necessary elements of the body of knowledge one must assimilate to become a sustainable farmer. But there is also a deeper level of learning and mentoring woven throughout the program that helps us learn how to be good stewards, to care for the land and our planet’s future, and the importance of being part of a community and giving back to those around us.
The Student Becomes the Teacher
This afternoon, the fall Agricultural Marketing class was the recipient of a great “gift”, given back by Central Carolina Community College Alumni Angie Blomer. Angie is a former student in the Sustainable Agriculture program and completed her Degree in Sustainable Agriculture in 2014.
Angie was invited to return to campus here in Pittsboro by our instructor Robin Kohanowich to speak with the class about social media fundamentals and the role of social media as part of an overall marketing plan.
Since graduating in 2014 Angie has used social media extensively. First to build an online following for Good Foods Growers Market, a local food market she started up in Kernersville; then in her work with the Forsyth County local foods council, and currently at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market in her role as Local Business Coordinator.
For an introduction Angie walked us through the current social media platforms and the demographics and common uses for each platform, helping us understand what types of activities might make sense to employ on each platform. As the afternoon class time passed, Angie shared the fundamental elements of a small business social media program and some of the key things she has found important to pay attention to in implementing a social media program. Her presentation was interspersed with periods of lively discussion as class members had the opportunity to ask questions and share their observations and experiences in using social media.
The discussion that occurred later in the afternoon on how to develop a social media plan was most helpful for me as Angie provided the class some wise, but very easy to understand advice on getting started:
- Define and be clear about your goals for social media before you begin
- Define and understand who you are trying to reach, their demographics and which social media platform(s) they typically use
- Define your “voice” and how you will address your audience before you begin and then be consistent with your messaging “voice” across platforms and through time to your audience
- Understand the time required to properly execute your plan, and devote the time needed consistently each week to work your plan as you build your social media presence
Angie’s presentation and discussion on social media was wonderful, engaging and easy to understand. Our entire class participated in the discussion with lots of good questions asked and answered. In the end, it ended up being one of the best classes of the semester (so far)!
The Most Impressive Thing…
Here we were in a lively discussion on the merits of each social media platform, and where we think social media seems to be headed as a marketing tool… it was great, invigorating and exciting to think about all of the possibilities. The comments and questions from around the room were fantastic. But for me, the most impressive, and encouraging thing was that the class was being taught and the discussion led by someone who was sitting in this very classroom as a student only three years ago! It is amazing to me how far Angie has travelled in just three years! Learning of her accomplishments and everything she shared with the class helps me see beyond the daily grind of classes, homework, plantings, and projects. Her journey helps me realize that our studies and preparations in Sustainable Agriculture may well lead us to some very exciting and fulfilling places as we journey forward at the completion of our studies. Just as important, Angie’s willingness to come back to campus as a guest speaker speaks volumes to me about the good that comes from being involved in a community and “giving back” to help those around you.
By Michael Tate, Reformed Direct Marketer and Farmer in Training