Instagram has emerged over the past few years not just as a social media giant, but also as a great platform for farmers to meet other farmers as well as potential customers in their area.
Of course, like all social media platforms, there is a learning curve on Instagram in figuring out how best to navigate the platform so that you are getting the most amount of engagement and reach. So I’ve put together a few tips for what we’ve employed on our farm’s Instagram to grow it to the nearly 11k followers we have, many of whom have become customers.
1. Get a Decent Camera
Cell phones have incredible cameras now, and if you have the latest Galaxy or iPhone or even within a generation or two of the new one, the camera is probably all you need. Those photos can be incredible and are built to translate well to this platform. Of course, if you don’t want to upgrade, or it’s too expensive (I understand), consider getting a nice handheld camera for farm shots. It does not have to be a fancy, $1,000 digital single-lens reflex camera (the big ones with interchangeable lenses), just a nice Canon Powershot or Nikon Coolpix (or whatever brand you like) will do wonders for improving the quality of your photos. These photos will have to be sent to your phone or mobile device so you can upload them to Instagram, but the extra effort will show in the quality and engagement. On our farm we use a Canon Rebel t7i. This is an entry-level DSLR and we love it, but it is a big investment (that we made mostly for video). Some of our best photos were taken on a little $100 Powershot.
2. Take Advantage of Good Lighting
Early morning, late afternoon and dusk are often the best times to take photographs because the light is often soft, making your photos look more dynamic. Farmers are up early, often in the fields around dawn (and sometimes until dusk), so it just makes sense to take that time to snap a couple of photos for Instagram. This is another thing I like about having a smaller camera—it can fit in your pocket so you can do chores and have the camera on hand in case a great photo-opportunity arises.
3. Go Beyond Instagram’s Filters
Instagram has some decent photo filters, but they are just that—decent. If you really like to touch up your photos to make them pop but don’t know a great deal about photo editing, don’t sweat it. Download the Lightroom App to your phone or device and use its “auto” correct. This will get the photo in better balance, after which you can add an Instagram filter if you like, or just go as is. For our farm, we do a minimal amount of photo editing (because who has the time midseason), but we do use programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom to help clean them up when necessary. We don’t use filters, but if you like the way they make your photo look, I say go for it just always remember that less can often be more in photography.
4. Feature Animals & People
Nothing drives traffic on sites such as Instagram like cute people or animals (such as the cat in the photo at the top of this post). It’s just a fact. You don’t have to include yourself in your photos or share photos of your children if you don’t want to, but putting the occasional hand holding a carrot, boot covered in mud or rancher on horseback in the distance will add something personal and distinct to your sunset shots, garden pics or general farm fodder. If you raise animals, make sure to grab as many baby photos as possible and use them throughout the year for “Throwback Thursdays”—a popular day and reason to post. (Hashtag #TBT — more next on how that works.)
5. Hashtag Your Photos
Hashtags might seem silly, but they make it possible for people to find your farm. Basically, if you tag your photo with the word #tomatoes, that hashtag will group your photo with all others on Instagram who have used #tomatoes, so anyone who clicks on that hashtag might come across your photo. An example of how this is beneficial might be tagging your photos with your state (#Kentucky) and the city where you (#Louisville) so that anyone with those interests might stumble upon your site. Also tag for farmers to find you, as Instagram can be a great resource for inspiration, tricks and tips. Popular tags include #farmlife, #notill #marketfarming #homesteading #rotationalgrazing and #farmtotable. Whatever it is that you do, tag it below your photo or in a comment and you will see a noticeable uptick in likes and comments.