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Trying to figure out how to use social media for your homestead can feel overwhelming, especially with so many options, and so many algorithms.
It can be overwhelming for many of us as we transition from posting random pictures and comments on our different social media platforms, to now thinking of them as brands, as identities that are part of us but also independent. Social media for homesteaders is just as unique as it is for any niche, yet there is little written about its specific best use.
First, let me say that when you start to feel that way it is time to put blinkers on and not sink into the feeling of comparison. I have been there myself. I start slipping into the thought process of “If I just build my Facebook page or Instagram account the same way so and so is. I will grow faster.” And that is just not the truth.
When you stay focused on your own content and seeing what is working for your ideal customer and follower you will grow much faster and gain the RIGHT followers.
At the end of the day, people follow and engage with you because of the personality you show of yourself and not what you copy in another individual. Sounds cliché, but be yourself is one of the best things to keep in mind as you develop your homesteading brand identity.
This post discusses some core ideas about how to use social media to develop and advance your homestead as a brand.
Do you really need to grow a social media platform?
You might be like me and to be quite honest. I am not a huge social media fan and I don’t like all social media platforms. And I cuss. A lot. But the cold hard truth is no matter how much we complain or drag our feet about it, this is now where people spend their time.
If you want to grow your homestead brand identity and your homesteading business and make sales, then people have to know you exist. You have to get eyeballs on your business somehow. Yes, you can do it in other ways BUT they are just not as effective anymore. There is a specific new skill needed for homesteaders to learn how to use social media to advance their homesteading bramd.
Here are some hard facts about social media:
- A huge proportion of people around the world use social media
- Data shows that 84% of millennials still use Facebook. (blog.hootsuite.com)
- Nearly 90 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 used at least one form of social media. (investopedia.com)
I don’t know about you but even though I would like to say I don’t use socials for my soap business I do, and I probably need to use it more than I already do.
The social media pep talk
So many people love the IDEA of being a blogger or business owner but they don’t want to do the years of work. The saying “it took 4-5 years to be an overnight success” is not a joke. It takes small steps and lots of failures to reach big heights. It takes lots of post writing, SEO strategy and promoting your blog through social media. It takes a lot of time for people in your niche to refer to you as an expert, or as someone who gives benefit to the niche in some manner.
When you are less than two years old don’t expect ANYTHING. It will save you a lot of heartaches and help you come from a place of service rather than desperation. Look at it like this. It is great to be getting comments or likes on something you post. But getting any kind of income is the icing on the cake for a while ok?
When starting your online journey you do not have the permission to consider giving up till you have put a solid 12 months into it. 12 months of solid, consistent, action. If you are seeing a bit of growth even a little bit then you don’t have permission to quit. The number of people who “go viral” and grow quickly is so small. Most people have to claw their way to the business and lifestyle they want.
I know that might sound defeating but I want you to know the truth about it. If you go into it with the right expectations you won’t give up as quickly.
I want you to succeed and the only what you can do that is by knowing what you are getting into.
It’s a process and does not happen overnight.
My blogging story
I’ve easily started 3-5 different blogs at different times. I wanted to write but I didn’t know about what, and surprisingly ‘finding my niche’ stories were the ones I frequented. Only when I started thinking about social media as an advertising medium did I start thinking about what I posted.
I remember a ‘friend’ once said to me that I needed to stop posting chickens and horses on my personal Instagram feed, because they were sick of seeing ‘that shit’ on their feed. I simply said well you don’t have to follow, but the cold hard fact is that your friends are your friends, and so is your family, and they’ll follow your personal social media pages because of obligation sometimes, or maybe even to sticky beak. But most times, let’s be honest, they don’t share the same interests as you.
That’s when I created a social media profile that was ‘the other me’. The me that was true to my likes and dislikes. Life on Milo’s Farm was full of chickens and horses and baking and gardening and shooting and farms. And that’s when I realised that was a brand identity – it was me but it was a different me to that which my family and friends knew.
It also then gave me something to write about. Because despite not realising the thing that stared me right in the face, was that I was a homesteader and a prepper. And I loved it. I spent a lot of time reading and thinking and learning and living the lifestyle and I also had so much to say about it. That’s when I realised I’d found my niche. It wasn’t a forced thing I temporarily liked – but something I had liked and enjoyed for many years, which encompassed a bit of everything I enjoyed.
Your homestead business needs an online base
If you want a successful sustainable business then you need a place to send your people OFF social media.
This needs to be a place that is not under the control of someone else. I know this is not what most people want to hear because social media is the sexy part of business. Glitches happen, accounts get hacked, and accounts can be shut down for “violating terms and conditions” when you have no idea what you did wrong.
But the truth is as homestead business owners you are already dancing on sensitive territory. You are not supposed to “sell” animals on Facebook or Instagram. So if you don’t have a website or blog to refer back to, what will you do?
Social media can fail
Creating a website or email list will create authority, trust, and a safety net for your homestead business.
There are heaps of other limitations to social media that you have to navigate and you need to be aware of those limitations. An email list is a brilliant way to maintain passive contact with your followers. I will be writing about my trials and tribulations with starting an email list soon!
You need somewhere you own to send your audience. Think of My Space and Friendster. They came in the heat of the moment and then faded away.
Facebook and Instagram have had issues or been inaccessible at least twice if not three times in the past 6 months. You can’t depend on a platform to run your business. You have no control over it.
Your home base can be a website, blog or email list
You can direct people back to your website from social media. Or an email service that has the option to create a landing page (which most do) to get people to sign up for your email list.
If you want to start a website do it for free! Start with WordPress.com and if you want to move over to a self-hosted website when you can.
I started Life on Milo’s Farm on a free wordpress.com site and recently moved it over to be self-hosted and I am grateful I did that. It was an easy process and I now have a lot more control over what is on my blog. I did wait a year though to do so, to make sure I was really going to commit to blogging, vlogging and making content to justify it.
If you’re interest in moving into a self-hosted site or want to do it straight up, then look at company’s that offer WordPress integration instead of buying a domain through WordPress. I used GoDaddy, but you can find most domain services offer a WordPress integration service.
So whilst you don’t need the investment into self hosting straight away, plan for it as your homestead business progresses.
How to use social media… ok, it actually does have a strategy to it
Social media is a beast all on its own. And on the whole, each platform wants you to be engaged on the platform and to engage with others.
The more active I am on each platform the better results I see.
I block out 15-30 minutes every day and use that time to engage on each platform. What this means is liking, commenting, and following other homesteaders and people in your niche, answering comments, emails and direct messages, and planning content for the next few days.
I will give you an example of what I do when I talk about Instagram.
Start with one social platform
If you get nothing else. Get this. When you decide to go social, you may already be using Instagram or Facebook regularly, and you may already understand how that platform works. If this is the case, then use that platform to start your social media journey.
It can be tempting to want to spread yourself across all platforms but you will start to get weary and find it hard to commit to. It is so hard to build momentum when you spread yourself to thin. Believe me, I’ve tried doing it all and it’s hard.
At the end of 2021 and into 2022 I pulled back from that which was too onerous and focused on fewer platforms and posting more often with better quality content. I also focused on develop brand cohesiveness and brand identity so creating content is quicker and easier.
Social media platforms want people to stay
They don’t want you to send people off the platform. On Facebook, posts with links out to another site will likely not get seen as much as a post without one. So you might be thinking how do you get people to come to your site?
The posts that are more “promotional” or encouraging people to act on what you do are going to get less reaction. But the people who really want the product/service you are offering will click.
When it comes to promoting your business, the trick is to not actually sell it. Seems counter intuitive, I know. Every post in one way or another, ties back to what you do or drops a small seed to get people thinking about your business.
Talk about your business, but don’t sell your business on social media
We have all ducked down a different aisle to avoid those tables in the grocery store with the cable TV or that “as seen on TV” salesmen. I know these people are only doing ‘their job’ but I hate being sold to.
Why is that? They immediately jump into a sales pitch and don’t let you come to a conclusion on your own. They don’t let you get to know them first. Some of that is because we already know why they are there so they have to just get at it or lose us for good. Nobody likes being talked at or sold to and the same applies for social media.
You don’t want people to do that with you.
You need to talk ABOUT your business but don’t sell your business. Meaning don’t let every post be something like “I sell soap. My soap is the best, you should buy all the soap”. But if you want to agree with me wholeheartedly, then that is also fine!
You take the slow easy approach to let people know you are there. Get them excited that your product is going to be launched, released, made, produced etc. Let them watch as you create the product or grow the thing.
The trick about developing content is to not try too hard. Develop content naturally – just film yourself doing what you do, as opposed to making cheesy skits or trying to make people laugh.
It’s a long slow process but it works. And it leaves people feeling good about you. Even if they are not ready to buy from you they might know someone who will. Worst case scenario, someone may find your information is teaching them something, and may save it so they can refer to it again. If people get value in some other way, then this will encourage them to follow and engage with you also.
Now keep in mind that these three platforms work very differently. But all of them can do great things for your site and brand awareness. You just have to know what to expect out of each.
Start with a plan
Know why you are using the platform (whether you decide to go with Facebook or Instagram) and work towards that goal. Layout a path that will get you to where you want to go.
Social tools are easy to use and you can get started for free. It might be tempting to dive in and just start posting. Without a plan, you have no clear goal for what you’re trying to achieve. That means there’s no way to measure your results. Take the time to create a social media plan right upfront. This ensures that all your social efforts support specific business goals.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with adhoc posting. I do it all the time. On my Homestead Soapery feed, and even on Life on Milo’s Farm, there are clearly curated posts and those that are done on the fly. personally, I think that adds to the realness of the person behind the profile. We don’t live perfectly manicured lives. We don’t have perfectly clean kitchens or perfectly styled hair every-time-we-post. It’s just not a reality. But do we have dirt on our face and under our fingernails – yep. Do we have our hair in a messy bun going every which way – yep.
Just as much as trying to build too many platforms will burn you out, so will trying to build a social media platform without a clear goal and plan of action.
Here are some ideas to help you out.
- Sell your product. If it’s soap, then sell soap.
- Build a following so you can sell other products besides your main product. Branch into other like type products, like natural skincare, or even the raw ingredients you may use to develop some of your products, like honey, beeswax, oils, lards, tallows, essential oils, herbal tinctures etc.
- Make money through affiliate income.
- Make money by getting sponsors for your content.
How to choose a social media platform
Having an ultimate goal or end point in mind is useful. Something as far reaching as ‘I want this to generate me an income’ is wide enough. So when you think about which social media system you want to be present on, you need to look at a few things, such as, whether or not those social media systems allow you to sell goods produced on the homestead or not (such as Instagram and Facebook being able to link to a Shopify store for example).
More than anything you need to know what your goals are for making money, as well as where your ideal customer, follower, or reader is.
Facebook is still great for selling through marketplace. But Instagram is better for building a brand and doing more than selling.
You also need to think about the kind of posts and social media content you want to create. If you want to go the Instagram route you need to take better images and even edit them to look clean and have good color. Consistency is also another good thing to have on your page.
All in all when it comes down to it. You need to like the platform and be comfortable there. Don’t try to build a social media account you hate being on in the first place.
The only reason I also use Facebook is that I can post to both Instagram and Facebook at the same time, meaning I can create the same text, image and hashtags on both systems with little fanfare.
How to know what to post on social media
Remember how I said you need to talk about your homestead business but not actually “sell” your business?
Think about 3-5 topics, categories, or “things” you can talk about that have something to do with your homestead business.
Use those topics and rotate through them. Here is an example of the categories I rotate through. Remember that I am building a business beyond selling soap. So you might be able to do something different.
- Behind the scenes.
- DIY and tutorials
- FAQs about raw ingredients
- Handmade, artisan, small business info.
- Encouragement, inspirations, motivational quotes
- About me.
- Social media management for small handcrafted business
- Digital downloads
For someone only selling soap it might look like this.
- Behind the scenes.
- About your soap/business.
- Your soap types.
Get the idea? When you have categories thought out it will help you know what to post. You wont get stuck staring at the blank screen. Plus it gives you ideas into expanding your business and thinking outside thew square, be it through collaborations or wholesale negotiations.
…and PSA. You don’t have to post in real time. Use a tool like Buffer or Facebook Meta Business to write your posts ahead of time so you can space them out over a period of time.
This is a big one.
One of the worst mistakes to make on social media is coming off as the faceless corporation with zero personality. In the modern age of transparency, people want to get to know your brand on a more personal level.
As a homesteader, a bit of you is your brand. When you say things, write things, express certain viewpoints, that is your brand identity. When I talk about food security and preparedness, that implies that I am not only into that type of information, but actively interested in growing, raising and producing food for my family. It may also suggest I have certain opinions or ideas about personal freedom and liberty, if you want to go that deep.
Don’t be afraid to show your face and talk to your followers. Write your content as if you are talking to a friend. Don’t sound like a robot – write like you speak.
Social media is your story to share with the world and the way in which you can connect to others in your niche and outside of it. If you are able to share your life and stories without hesitation or trying to attach a filter, you will come through far more authentically. This is your platform. Make it uniquely you.
To read the other articles in this series:
- 10 ways to promote your homestead on the internet
- Why blogging for homesteaders is still relevant
- How to use Google Trends and SEO to write the best social content
- Promoting your homestead on Instagram – 5 useful tips to gain followers and engagement