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To: Mr. Mark Ramsay, L.E.A.F Farm Date: April 9, 2016 Re: L.E.A.F Social Media Marketing Plan Fr: Gabrielle LaFavre

I. Introduction:

After reviewing the L.E.A.F’s website and social media accounts, it is clear that the farm already uses a variety of good online practices. Compared with other local Connecticut CSA farms, L.E.A.F maintains a strong website with updated information, frequently posts to their Facebook and new Instagram account, and has connected with neighboring farms, businesses, and individuals. However, there is room for L.E.A.F to grow their digital and social media presence. This report will briefly outline suggested social media strategies and sample posts based on research about target audience, competitors’ best practices, and how to forge stronger business connections online. It is my objective to uncover areas where the L.E.A.F can strengthen their already successful digital marketing efforts. By considering social media trends and practices— like hashtag campaigns, creating yelp and google reviews, cross-posting, and using social media to advertise and explain the CSA program—the L.E.A.F can achieve their goal of strengthening local engagement and increasing CSA shares.

of strengthening local engagement and increasing CSA shares. II. Research & Results : Upon researching private

II. Research & Results:

Upon researching private and governmental CSA resources, and observing other working CSA farms, I have uncovered certain social media trends which can grow a CSA program and increase farm engagement. The overall prescription for CSA social media marketing was to create multiple spaces for engagement, from Google and Yelp reviews to an up-to-date Facebook page. These spaces of engagement should contain adequate information about the CSA program, seasonality of produce, prices, and reliable contact information. In today’s social media-driven world, remaining relevant and present online increases a farm’s chance of success.

Controlling Google Through Reviews:

The CSA Solutions Hub, a privately run resource for small farmers, suggests creating Google reviews to optimize your farm’s search results. Google and Yelp reviews function in similar ways—both allow customers to review the farm and the CSA program in a public and objective manner. Potential customers are very likely to use Google to search a farm, so ensuring that the results reflect your farm in a positive light and contain enough information for a customer to understand the CSA options is an important objective. Upon creating a Google review account, it is advisable to contact loyal customers and encourage them to leave comments about the CSA program. Below is a screenshot of an orchard, with the Google review highlighted with a red box. The review contains the address, phone

Figure 1:Illustrating Google Review and Search Results of Samascott Orchards number, and open hours of

Figure 1:Illustrating Google Review and Search Results of Samascott Orchards

number, and open hours of the orchard, as well as reviews from real customers. By controlling what results appear when googling your CSA program, a farm is more likely to create engagement and encourage new customers. As mentioned, platforms like Yelp and LocalHarvest also extend your marketing reach. These food- centric platforms are popular with a farm’s target market, as people of all ages and demographics use these sites

to search restaurants and farms. By creating accounts on sites like Yelp and LocalHarvest, a farm additionally increases the amount of google hits, as there will more be results for customers to explore. As with a Google review, invite your best customers to leave comments and photos on these sites so that everyday people in your area who may search Google will see more results upon typing your farm’s name.

Google will see more results upon typing your farm’s name. Figure 2: Yelp Review of Norman's

Figure 2: Yelp Review of Norman's Farm Market

Understanding the Market:

Controlling what pops up when googling your farm name will allow your CSA program to remain relevant to and easily accessible for potential customers. However, a farm must also understand that once you have become more accessible to your market through Google and Yelp reviews, you must also understand what your market is looking for. It is imperative for a farm to understand its current and target audience, and one consistency between all markets is the need for information. All customers, both current and prospective, seek information about the CSA program and the farm in general. North Carolina State University’s resource guide for CSA farmers

suggests that all materials, from website to social media to reviews, should explain basic information about the farm and its CSA program. Some potential customers may not know what a CSA program is, or may be unsure of what products your farm grows, or in which seasons. Another concern customers have is price, and how much CSA shares cost. Addressing these facts and explaining the contents of a CSA box on your website and social media accounts will clear up any misconceptions customers may harbor. At left is an image that a CSA farm posted to their

website so that customers could view a sample box. Including both visuals and a textual description of each produce underneath the image is a successful way to market your shares. Of course, a farm should also update its existing website page to include more detail about the CSA program. By providing information on many different platforms—website, social media,

reviews—a farm will ensure that more people will have access to correct information and be more likely to purchase a CSA share. The less questions that a customer may have, the better—ensure that your CSA program is as easy to understand and sign up for as possible. Many CSAs have a high turnover rate, where 25-70% of members do not return for another season, so educating members through lists and images of CSA shares is a successful way to combat this trend.

of CSA shares is a successful way to combat this trend. Figure 3: Sample CSA Box

Figure 3: Sample CSA Box Contents Post

Connecting with Local Businesses:

The CSA Solutions Hub recommends that a CSA farm connects with local restaurants, gyms and businesses both online and off. For example, connecting with local restaurants may provide a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties. By selling products to a restaurant, the restaurant receives fresh, local produce that is tastier and more sustainable. If you already partner with a restaurant, this partner may be able to promote your farm by adding the farm name to their menu or allowing you to leave promotional material at their restaurant. Another profitable partnership is with local gyms or spas, as these businesses support healthy living. Social media is a perfect way to engage with local businesses in a low stakes manner. By following, liking, and sharing links posted by such health-conscious businesses, they will be motivated to follow your farm and share your CSA program with their followers, thus extending your reach to new markets.

Conducting End-Of-Season Surveys:

Creating and administering an online survey at the end of the season is an effective way for farms to understand their customers’ reaction to their CSA program. You can create a survey easily and quickly through online programs such as SurveyMonkey. After making the survey, you may send it out via your mailing list, post it to your social media accounts, and/or invite customers to take it by placing a notice in the last CSA box of the year.

Some sample questions may include:

1. What was your favorite CSA product this year?

2. What was your least favorite CSA product this year?

3. Overall quality of products and service?

4. Overall value for the price?

5. Interest in being a member again next year?

6. Suggestions for improvement?

7. Other comments?

Recap:

This Research & Results section highlights important trends within the CSA industry which are contributing factors of a farm’s success, both online and off. Please refer to the following section, Suggestions for L.E.A.F, to see guidelines on putting this theory into practice at the L.E.A.F Southington.

III. Suggestions for L.E.A.F:

Website Suggestions and CSA Marketing Posts:

L.E.A.F already has a very strong website, with updated information about the CSA program. However, the information is spread out among different tabs; trying to compile information from the “What is CSA”, “What is Share”, “Distributions” sections is complicated for some users who may want one single concise page with the basic facts like price, amount of produce in each share size, pickup time and location, and types of produce. For example, by clicking on the main menu tab’s “CSA” instead of using the dropdown menu options, a user will see this page:

Figure 4: Screenshot of the L.E.A.F's Website
Figure 4: Screenshot of the L.E.A.F's Website

which does not include any information at all. Though the visuals are bright, colorful, and effective, this page should also contain a condensed form of the information present on the other “CSA” tabs. The tab “What is Share” accurately explains the size of a full share, but does not describe a half share or any pricing. Users must instead navigate to the “18 Week C.S.A” section to find pricing. While dividing these pages of information and also separating the information about CSA pick-up location is okay, it would be more effective to compile all of this information onto one location. My suggestion is to place this information all within the main “CSA” horizontal menu button, so that when users navigate there they will be able to find a comprehensive list of all relevant CSA information. To bring this information into the social media realm, I suggest that the L.E.A.F create posts advertising the CSA program over their pre-existing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. By cross-posting a similar message across all platforms, namely providing detailed information about the CSA program, those who do not check the website will still be able to access the information via social media accounts on their computers or cell phones.

via social media accounts on their computers or cell phones. Figure 5: Screenshot of L.E.A.F's CSA

Figure 5: Screenshot of L.E.A.F's CSA Explanation

Figure 5: Screenshot of L.E.A.F's CSA Explanation F i g u r e 6 : S

Figure 6: Screenshot of L.E.A.F's Pricing Details

Controlling L.E.A.F’s Google Results:

Below are the results when a user searches the L.E.A.F on Google. As you can see, the results immediately bring up the farm’s website and CSA order form, which is great. However, there is no Google review on the right side of the page. This is an easy fix, as it simply

Figure 7: Google Results for the L.E.A.F requires the L.E.A.F to make accounts on Google

Figure 7: Google Results for the L.E.A.F

requires the L.E.A.F to make accounts on Google review, Yelp, and/or LocalHarvest. After you have created such profiles, remember to invite loyal customers to review the farm and the CSA program. This will increase web traffic, and will also drive potential customers to your website and social media accounts. By encouraging users to post pictures and reviews, the L.E.A.F will appear more digitally active and approachable for many users who are comfortable on social media.

One other aspect about Google and L.E.A.F. that you may want to consider is ensuring that results from Lewis Farms redirects customers to the L.E.A.F pages and social media accounts. It might be beneficial to either close down these former sites, or to make them automatically redirect to the L.E.A.F. so that customers are aware of the farm’s name change and any other structural differences that may interest them.

and any other structural differences that may interest them. Figure 8: Google Results for Lewis Farms

Figure 8: Google Results for Lewis Farms

Increasing Engagement and Providing Surveys:

Overall, I have noticed that L.E.A.F has a great Facebook and Instagram presence, though the Twitter account only has 1 post from 2014. While Twitter may not be a platform that you have interest in using, I suggest that L.E.A.F consider posting similar or the same content across these platforms, as has become standard for local businesses around the country. Posting a video that

you uploaded to Facebook to Twitter, or cross-sharing a picture from your Instagram account to Twitter is simple and extends your marketing reach. Remember that you may use your social media accounts to educate your audience about CSA prices, share sizes, pick-up locations, and general farm information. You may also consider linking to an online survey at the end of your season to encourage followers to provide feedback about the CSA program. In the following section, “Sample Social Media Posts,” I will outline sample posts and social media campaigns which may benefit the L.E.A.F and allow you to advertise the CSA program on social media.

IV. Sample Social Media Posts:

Below are suggestions for targeted social media posts and campaigns. These posts incorporate research on industry trends and best practices, including the most effective hashtags and ideas for creative social media marketing.

1. Explaining CSA and Telling LEAF’s story—Facebook Post:

Figure 10: SampleFigure 9Facebook: Sample FacebookPost Post
Figure 10: SampleFigure 9Facebook: Sample FacebookPost
Post

This Facebook post uses a picture from the L.E.A.F website, juxtaposed with a short description from the “Our Story” section of L.E.A.F’s website. By cross posting content available on the website to social media outlets like Facebook, you can increase access among different users and drive traffic from website to social media and vice versa.

2. Providing a harvest schedule and explaining CSA box contents:

Figure 11: Sample Post with Relevant Hashtags
Figure 11: Sample Post with Relevant Hashtags

This post illustrates how to use a seasonal harvest item, such as strawberries, to advertise the CSA program and keep followers up to date with relevant farm news, updates, and produce schedules. Additionally, this Instagram post uses popular hashtags, such as #CSA, to increase L.E.A.F search results within social media applications.

3. Recipes and nutritional info:

This post takes the form of an Instagram photo, but could easily be shared over Facebook, Twitter, or a monthly email newsletter. It makes use of an effective strategy guaranteed to increase traffic: tagging a popular blogger or social media expert with a large following. By featuring a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a wildly popular food blog, you can not only highlight the season’s best produce, but also appeal to a wider audience of Smitten Kitchen followers who may now be able to discover your farm and CSA program. Additionally, this post contains hashtags to increase traffic.

Figure 12: Sample post tags a well-known food blogger’s recipe
Figure 12: Sample post tags a well-known food blogger’s recipe

4. Farm updates: crops, weather, pests, yields, what produce is coming in:

crops, weather, pests, yields, what produce is coming in : Figure 13 and 14: Examples of
crops, weather, pests, yields, what produce is coming in : Figure 13 and 14: Examples of

Figure 13 and 14: Examples of Cross Posting

This category is closely related to posts chronicling CSA box contents and harvest schedules. Not only do these posts educate your followers about the farm and agricultural practices in general, but they also increase excitement about CSA deliveries. These posts, one via Instagram and one via Facebook, illustrate the importance of cross posting. Though you may not always cross post content, it is important to re-post important news or updates across different platforms because your follower base may not be consistent within and among your social media accounts.

5. Hashtags:

#CSA

#Vegbox

#eatlocal

#locavore

#lovemyfarmer

#realfood

#farmlocal

#farming

#realfood

Although this section does not contain sample posts, it is important to understand the most popular hashtags within your industry and social media networks. For farming and CSA farms in particular, these are the most relevant and searched hashtags.

6. Food Holidays:

June: National Fruit and Vegetable Month June 14: National Strawberry Shortcake Day July 16: National Corn Fritter Day October 1: World Vegetarian Day October 2: World Farm Animals Day

Figure 14: Sample tweet celebrating World Farm Animals Day
Figure 14: Sample tweet celebrating World Farm Animals Day

V.

Conclusion:

The following are examples of relevant food holidays for farmers. In the social media world,
The following are examples of relevant food holidays
for farmers. In the social media world, food holidays
are a very popular phenomena and users often post
content dedicated to the day’s (or month’s) celebrated
food. By posting on these days, you can capitalize on
the festive spirit and reach users who are passionate
about fresh fruits and vegetables.

Figure 15:: Sample post for Fruits and Veggies Month

After researching CSA social media practices, as well as reviewing the L.E.A.F’s website and accounts, I have suggested a few targeted campaigns and strategies to increase online engagement and advertise the L.E.A.F’s CSA program. The L.E.A.F already maintains a strong social media presence, so mixing in some or all of these suggestions should strengthen your digital presence and lead to increased digital and non-digital engagement. By creating a google review or starting a hashtag campaign, the L.E.A.F can appeal to new customers and connect with other businesses.

Works Cited

“47 Marketing Tips for CSA Farm Marketing.” 47 Marketing Tips for CSA Farms. CSA SOLUTIONS HUB, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. “Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Resource Guide for Farmers | North Carolina Cooperative Extension.” Growing Small Farms News. NC State University Cooperative Extension, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. "Hashtags for Local Food." Bucky Box. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2016. "October Holidays." Foodimentary National Food Holidays. N.p., 10 Nov. 2009. Web. 26 Apr. 2016. "September." The Land Connection. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2016. “What is Community Supported Agriculture?” EDIS New Publications RSS. University of Florida, n.d. Web 05 Apr. 2016.