30 Days: How to Create An Insta-Farm on Instagram

If you’ve been in the social media world for some time, you’ve likely heard that ‘content is king.’ We need to be How to create and Insta-farm or ranch - 30 Days of Agvocacy and Social Media from AgChat.orgproviding quality subject matter which keeps readers on your blogs and websites. More recently we’ve watched this paradigm change, putting more emphasis on photos, graphics and images. You might say if content is king, then images are the emperor. While this is new to blogs and websites, society has been favoring visionary over publications for decades. The average person would rather sit down and watch a two hour movie than spend 8-9 hours reading a book. As social media has dominated our lives, people’s attentions spans have decreased even further. Enter popular social media channels such as Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat.

Another prominent trend is utilizing story telling versus educating. As farmers and ranchers, we are excellent story tellers who have truly been provided a gold mine platform in using Instagram. Honestly, I’ve struggled with being consistent on Instagram and by no means am an expert. I would like to share some tips and tricks I’ve discovered along the way:

1.) Profiles & Bios: An extremely important part of making Instagram work for you. Rather than just listing yourself as a farmer or rancher, also add information about your life off the farm such as golfing, biking, have a passion for baking, quilting, working as a volunteer for your children’s school or home renovation. You could also like a favorite item or aspect of your life – favorite food, town, fair, grocery store, book, movie or tv show. Make your bio relatable to those outside of agriculture.

2.) URL: The website field is the only place that Instagram allows hyperlinks. This is an open door to your farm or ranch. I wouldn’t over analyze it but you could chose to send people to a specific page on your blog or website such as your about page, a contest page, your most viewed post or even your Facebook fan page. The URL could even be linked to an article you have written for someone else. The possibilities are broad.

3.) Public versus private: This is a subject which could be a stand alone blog post. Today, we’ll focus on the benefits of setting your profile to public. Statistics show that people are much less likely to follow you if they can not see your images. There are also less likely to follow if they do not see any commonalities to their lives. Posting photos other than what is happening around the farm is important to connecting with those off the farm. Even if a person requests to follow you, they may not return to view your photos once they’ve been approved. Its a balance between your comfort level and the goals you are striving for in agriculture advocacy.

4.) Explaining how hashtags work: One of the ways we find each other on Instagram is by searching for hashtags. The hashtags organize the photos into different categories. As I researched various profiles for this blog post I noticed that the hashtags being used tend to be more farmer/rancher talk than non-ag dialog, including my own. For example, in this photo I’m showing a photo of one of my sons showing his heifer. For my farm and dairy Use descriptive hashtags when posting on Instagram. AgChat.orgfriends, they understand what is happening, others may not. The hashtag #jerseys is a popular search term on my website but not for jersey cattle. Generally, people are looking for baseball or football jerseys and there’s always a random reference to the television program Jersey Shore. Which is great. Its reaching beyond our industry. However, I do not include enough hashtags or comments to help them understand what is happening in the photo. Another example, which caught my eye during my research, is a tractor in the field side dressing. Its unlikely that non-ag folks will understand what is happening. Just be sure you are using hashtags which explain the photo or you accompany captions with the hashtags.

Nicole Small of A Kansas Farm Mom uses series on Instagram as a way to connect with those outside agriculture - 30 Days of Agvocacy & Social Media - AgChat.org5.) How many hashtags should be used?: While Instagram allows for up to 30 hashtags, keeping the volume at 4-6 is the recommendation.  Utilizing popular hashtags to gain followership is discouraged and may even result in having your account blocked. The golden rule when using hashtags is to use them sparingly and keep them relevant.

6.) Post a series of photos: I have to pick on Nicole Small, again. This past growing season she documented a field of corn which her son helped plant with is own seed. She pushed updates on various social media channels showing the stand growth, silking and tasseling as well as harvest. Sprinkled within her timeline I also found non-ag related photos such as a pair of necklaces her family made together. The key is creating an emotional story through your photos.

Creating a Insta-farm or Insta-ranch on Instagram may seem daunting {it has been for me}, however, by using the correct hashtags, explaining the photos in the caption and shooting a series of photos and ones which tell as story, it can be done.

written by Jenny Schweigert

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Jenny serves as the AgChat Foundation Executive Director while helping manage her family’s small hobby farm and in-laws dairy farm in central Illinois. In addition to AgChat.org, she can be found blogging about life on the farm, Jersey dairy cattle, hunting and her boys, all at TheMagicFarmHouse.com.Jenny Schweigert - AgChat.org photo courtesy of Keiser Photography https://www.facebook.com/KeiserPhotography