As I’m sure many of you know by now, The Land Connection was given the opportunity to be a guest instagrammer on the Farmers’ Market Coalition’s account for the past two weeks. It was quite the privilege to be able to share our market’s story with such a large audience, and get feedback and support from around the country.
For those who don’t frequent the realm of social media, Instagram is a social media platform focused solely on images. Essentially, people and organizations post beautiful pictures and they show up on the feeds of all the users that “follow” them. As with all social media platforms, success is measured with “likes” that are given by users with a simple double tap of their phone screens.
In addition to sharing our story, we were thrilled to also be able to inspire other market managers, vendors, and consumers with ideas for events, activities, and marketing strategies. FMC has a much larger following than the TLC account (over 2,000 as compared to our 600), which gave us a larger sample size to measure the general response of the public to our guest posts. However, the audience is obviously limited to Instagram users (as opposed to the general public at large), so what conclusions could be drawn about general market goers is clearly limited. However, there IS a lot that I learned about using Instragram itself, and felt obliged to share those tips with you farmers and food lovers who want to improve your reach!
Food. People love food. People love pictures of food. People love colorful pictures of food. This seems obvious, but we were wary of posting too many picture of the food available at the market. We wanted to ensure that we illustrated the things that makes our market unique, which is not the food so much as the people and the creative events and activities. We did of course post some pictures of food, and well, people loved them.
Try to make sure that the images you post are bright and full of color. Dull pictures are easy to scroll right past and therefore will not get “likes”! It may be tough to capture the colors of life on your phone camera sometimes, but Instagram offers plenty of filters and photo editing tools to make your images pop. I suggest messing with the brightness and contrast FIRST before skipping straight to the filters. And it doesn’t have to be many different colors – just one will do as long as it is vibrant, bright, and in focus. Use black and white filters sparingly, and only when it adds to the mood you are trying to convey with your picture.
Focus. Make it obvious what you are sharing. Use cropping to your advantage. Blur out distracting background items. Zoom in as much as possible. If a photo is too busy, people will just scroll past it.
I’m sure you are all welll aware of the #hashtag. On Instagram, it can be a powerful tool for getting people who don’t necessarily follow your account to see your pictures and potentially “like” them and start following your account. But keep it simple. Tag items that are in your photo that people might be searching for, or colors that are featured. #Donothashtagfullsentancesorphrases. No one would ever search for them. I often added #farmersmarket, thinking that people might be generally interested in markets and what food/activities are available. Also, make sure to add a location (that includes your farms, farmers!) so that when people are browsing images of a particular location, they find your photos tagged their too. Using hashtags, location, and even mentioning other accounts are all ways to connect your posts with others… and integrate them into the social network that is Instagram!
People like funny. People like things they’ve never seen before. And people love new ideas that they could try themselves or apply to their own lives. It’s social media, so it should be social. Give your followers a photo that makes them feel something, whether it’s hunger for gorgeous food, awe at a striking scene, amusement at a funny sign, or something they want to try themselves. Always consider what your followers will get out of your post and you will be an Insta-pro in no time!
Share some of your instagram tips in the comments! Happy Instagramming!