Agri[Culture] Insights: Monitoring and Engaging on Social Channels

As agriculture promotion groups (APGs) and checkoffs strive to provide educational information for farmers to keep them informed about investment activities and new opportunities, building a social community with your target audience can be a positive, engaging way to support key communication goals.

Once you have determined the best platforms for your social media plan and have developed your content calendar, you’re on your way to executing your social communication plan and distributing relevant content for your audience.

Now, it’s time to put in place a plan, process and system for monitoring social activity and engaging with and responding to the social community.

Documenting Your Social Policy

You’ll probably want to document a social policy for the communication team clearly defining roles and responsibilities when it comes to engaging, sharing and responding with the social community. By having a defined social policy, you can ensure the appropriate approvals are in place and be ready to react in a timely manner.

Also, it’s a good idea to state some of this policy on your social platform in the “about” or profile sections. You can write a simple statement for the community about what types content violate your policy and you reserve the right to remove content that you deem inappropriate or vulgar.

Liking and Responding to Comments

Every comment deserves a response if possible. Develop a policy allowing “liking” positive comments or the ability to respond with a simple “thank you” to positive feedback to help with timely engagement. Of course, if possible, a more engaging response such as “thanks for the comment and, yes, we love cows too” is always best. Remember your community wants to engage with you as a human being, and while you are representing your APG or checkoff, you should always engage your social community as a person rather than as an organization.

Response Time

In the customer service realm, social communities are monitored 24/7/365 and responses can be immediate. With most associations, APGs and checkoffs, monitoring activity and responding during normal business hours is acceptable. Farmers with immediate needs typically know how to reach a board or staff member and are not likely to use social media for situations that require immediate attention.

Be consistent with responses and align your checkoff responses with any other executives or experts visible on social media. For example, if your CEO and Director of Agronomy also engage on social media, be sure you are sharing information and providing consistent engagements.

Responding to Negative Comments

Every organization gets negative comments at some time, and there will be times when you need to address a negative situation. Each situation is different but following a few guidelines will help you navigate these waters.

First, listen. Really take in what your farmer or stakeholder is trying to communicate. There may be a simple resolution, a misunderstanding that can be cleared up easily or just an opportunity to consider something that has been brought to your attention.

In your response, remember you are a human responding on behalf of the checkoff. Be human and positive. Let your farmer know you are listening and don’t be afraid to apologize for any confusion or bad experience to help diffuse the situation.

Respond quickly and let your community know you are listening. If able, answer the question or address the issue directly and politely. Be sure to engage your subject matter experts or program managers if needed to help you craft a response and follow the normal approval process with your response.

Remember, sometimes you should not engage, particularly if negative comments violate your stated policy or are deemed inappropriate. These comments can be removed or hidden from the community.

If there are comments outside the realm of your ability to respond, it’s OK to let the community know. For example, if you’re a checkoff and receive comments about policy that are better answered by the lobbying association, you can respond with a simple message about how checkoff funds are not used to advocate for public policy.

Engaging with your social community is a great way to encourage more discussion among your farmers and stakeholders and a great way to listen and perhaps better understand the needs of your farmers. Don’t be afraid to ask the community questions. For instance, ask them what type of information they would like to see or gather opinions about your efforts. Building a community is one of the best ways to build awareness for your efforts and gain additional insights into the needs of the community you serve.

Need help setting social media policies and/or monitoring and supporting your community? Let us help you get the most from your social media plan with strategies for effectively listening, monitoring and tracking social interactions that inform your communication plan and direct your efforts to meaningfully engage with your audience.

To see the next blog in this series, click here.

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