Devine Farms in Catawba County is committed to reaching out to the community. They thrive on helping educate others about all aspects of agriculture, and have a history of more than 30 years of working with children, often hosting school field trips, summer camps, group tours, and private parties. They also have a farm store where they sell a wide selection of fresh produce, milk, honey, and other items.
Social media, specifically Facebook, is a key way they keep customers and others updated on new items in the store, events and other happenings at the farm. While every season is busy on the farm, the fall season kicks into high gear with a pumpkin patch, maze, and wagon rides. They also have sheep, goats, and rabbits for visitors to enjoy. Beef cattle and poultry houses are not part of farm visits but lessons about each are incorporated for school groups.
Devine Farms is a family affair. Joe and Susie Devine, along with their children Ben, Luke (and wife Lori) and Tom (and wife Alyson) are involved in various aspects.
Alyson, an agri-consumer lender in the Conover office of Carolina Farm Credit, contributes, along with Susie and Lori, to the social media presence.
“Facebook is the primary outlet to get information out there,” she says. “Anytime there is an event happening at the farm it’s going on Facebook. Anytime the store has revised hours or new products it goes on Facebook. It’s our number one advertising source and is beneficial to our farm business.” They also post to Instagram.
Alyson shares a few tips from the Devine Farms social media strategy.
- Post often. This is a key to maintaining the farm’s online presence. “The farm posts on Facebook once a day or every other day. It is important to make sure each post is meaningful and provides crucial information.”
- Provide helpful updates. When new items arrive at the store, such as fresh, local strawberries, Susie or Lori will post information and a photo. They know that the chocolate milk from Wholesome Country Creamery is a favorite of customers so whenever a new shipment arrives, they share that on Facebook.
- Create excitement. Fall is a particularly happy and celebratory time at the farm when it hosts various events. Alyson creates special announcements for Facebook that include an attractive image and date, time, cost, location and other pertinent details.
- Consider day/time when you post. While Susie and Lori are at the farm throughout the day, they consciously work in at least one post, sometimes more, depending on what’s happening any given day. For special events that they are hoping to draw more people to the farm, Alyson says it’s helpful to look at Facebook analytics to determine when more people are on Facebook, and post accordingly. Some high traffic times are early in the morning as people are starting their day and during lunch hours. Wednesday is the best day to post. Sunday is the worst day. (For a look at the best times to post to social media, check out this article.)
- Always promote your social media sites. Devine Farms uses word of mouth. Whenever people visit the farm, the Devines remind people to check out their Facebook page. Whenever Alyson designs fliers that are left in local stores to promote events or handed out at the farm store, she includes the Facebook and Instagram icons. Make sure your social media icons are on your website as well.
- Be intentional and conscious of what you are posting. Alyson says it’s important to recognize that not everyone on social media is pro-farm or pro-agriculture. She cites a negative comment on social media about one of the farm’s animals. “We had to be on top of that comment to make sure they understand how well our animals are treated and taken care of.” She adds that it’s important to be mindful of the way you post things and what you post. Don’t share a negative comment or article with your rebuttal because that potentially increases the misinformation that you don’t want shared. “Social media is extremely beneficial to help get your message out there. Educating people on your production practices and how you care for animals is important.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic casts uncertainty about what will be open or not in the coming months, Devine Farms is planning for fall events. “We know things might change,” says Alyson. “But we are remaining optimistic and planning for this to be just another fall at the farm.”
Whatever the fall season brings, Devine Farms will be keeping in touch through social media.
This is part of a 4-part series on social media resources. Google My Business, a free tool, helps increase your online presence in Google Search and Google Maps. Facebook now owns Instagram and helps facilitate cross posting. Devine Farms shares their social media strategy. Visit NC Farms is a new app introduced by NCDA&CS.
By Leah Chester-Davis