The Ag Influencer Goes Social

by Amy McEvoy
November 12, 2021
Ag Influencer Goes Social

Understanding the value of social media influencers in agriculture

This post was originally published in April 2020. It was edited to reflect industry updates.

Influencers continue to be all the rage in consumer marketing, so one of the biggest questions we get from current and potential clients is “how does this relate to the ag market?” How much influence do ag influencers have? Are they relevant? Should they be considered as a vehicle to reach the target audience or as a target themselves?

Ag is a niche market within the immense world of social media, so some clients and prospective clients have understandably questioned whether social media is worthy of a share of their limited budgets.

Engagement vs. Reach

One important consideration is the difference between reach and engagement. In the offline world, reach is the number of readers, viewers or listeners. Marketers love the big numbers reported with reach because they mean a lot of potential customers have been touched. However, when it comes to social media, reach is the number of followers an influencer has. That potential pool to reach is not nearly as important – or valuable – as engagement.

Engagement, in its simplest terms, is the number of likes, shares, comments, or other direct interaction with a social media post. Production ag influencers might be nano (1,000-10,000 followers) or micro (10,000-100,000 followers) influencers, but don’t let the smaller number of followers be a deterrent. There is quite a bit of research that shows these smaller influencers tend to have higher engagement rates than influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers.

Who’s Who on Social Media Platforms

It’s important to distinguish what qualifies a social media influencer and how they add value to a marketing strategy, particularly in the ag market. Paul Talbot, CMO contributor, outlines this process in this Forbes column .

We often think of influencer marketing as more of a pop culture phenomenon, where celebrities and models sell products via snapshots of products-in-hand. Essentially, marketers are borrowing an influencer’s credibility to sell a product or promote a brand. Though this tactic can be very successful for consumer brands, ag brands often take a different approach –where influencer marketing is less about product placement and more of an opportunity to educate and share unique offerings and brand values through visual means.

The Ag Connection

Ag brands can apply an influencer strategy into their overall marketing plan to promote upcoming trade shows, conferences, product releases and ambassador programs. Marketers should focus on honest and authentic content, which builds a transparent connection with other companies and, in this case, ag dealers, farmers, ranchers and veterinarians. Transparency is a key factor to this success because the ag population relies so heavily on trust when making purchasing decisions, as illustrated in this International Food and Agribusiness Management Review article. Transparency and trust provoke discussion and increase engagement between brands and producers.

Ag influencers can appear live and on-location at events, live-stream product reviews, demonstrations and agronomic education sessions, or promote your brand as category experts. They can also work remotely, incorporating and showcasing brand photography and video via social media. Any engagement that connects the influencer with viewers, even a simple Q&A, can increase sales, due to their organic approach.

Keeping it Legal

In the influencer sphere, it’s necessary to disclose all compensation for promoting a brand or product. Influencers can do so by simply adding the appropriate hashtags (#ad or #sponsored) in their post, or using the branded content option. Additionally, it is recommended to follow the guidelines presented by the Federal Trade Commission for relationships between influencers and brands.

As ag brands continue to turn the cameras on themselves, it’s an exciting time to see how and where they will develop throughout the social media landscape. Social media and audio/visual technology have transformed how we market products, which ones we invest in and the ways that we communicate with brands. The opportunities for consumer engagement are endless.

Amy McEvoy
About the Author – Amy McEvoy

Head, Earned Media. An Iowa State graduate who was born and raised on a diversified grain and livestock farm in northern Iowa, Amy loves bringing this lens to strategic planning, communications integration and earned media measurement. She provides oversite to the Earned Media team, ensuring there are no missed opportunities to tell a good story and engage a customer or influencer.

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