July 23, 2019

How farmers can cultivate a strong social media presence that pays

By Rosie Thoni

It’s no secret that farmers are diversifying their operations to remain profitable – whether they’re selling direct to consumers, custom operating equipment for neighbors or even monetizing their social media presence. A recent Bloomberg article shared that some farmers are earning more from sharing their lifestyle on social media platforms like YouTube than they are from their crops.

Growers can earn money on social media through brand partnerships (sponsored videos and posts, becoming a brand ambassador), monetized YouTube videos (Google AdSense) or affiliate marketing (earning a portion of sales through a unique discount code for your followers). If you’re a grower looking to break into the world of paid social media, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you get started.

1. Find your niche

While #AgTwitter may be a crowded place, there’s always room for new perspectives and ideas. Share your unique experience and expertise in a way that is authentic and provides value to your audience. Having a clear brand, whether you’re an equipment buff or an advocate of farmers’ mental health, will help your audience, media and potential sponsors understand who you are. Becoming the expert in that niche will earn you a captive audience, from fellow growers to industry leaders to media.

2. Start conversations

The “social” aspect of social media shouldn’t be lost, especially when trying to build a larger online presence. Take advantage of social media platforms’ commenting and response capabilities to ask questions, poll your audience and share experiences. And don’t be afraid to interact with and reach out to your favorite brands – whether that’s equipment, seed, inputs, animal health or otherwise – to let them know you’d be interested in partnering.

3. Be consistent

There’s no set number of followers or other statistic that makes you an “influencer,” especially in agriculture where we know small audiences can have a big impact. What does make a difference in whether or not a brand will choose to work with an influencer is consistency. Whether you’re tweeting daily or posting YouTube videos weekly, having a schedule that your followers come to expect makes for a great experience for followers and a safe bet for sponsors.

4. Follow the numbers

Just like in farming, your numbers will tell you a lot about what’s going well and what isn’t. A quick look behind the scenes at your analytics and insights (free tools within Facebook pages, Twitter and YouTube) will show you your highest performing posts, when people visit your page the most, and how long they’re spending with your videos. You may be surprised to hear that while followers are an important and obvious metric, they’re hardly the most important to a brand choosing influencers. A great engagement rate – meaning how much your followers interact (like, comment, share) – has more impact than just your follower count. Ensure you’re creating content that motivates people to join the conversation, not just follow along.

5. Keep the business hat on

Whether you’re monetizing a YouTube video or negotiating a brand deal, business is business. Keep up with opportunities within platforms to earn money – for example, once your YouTube channel reaches a certain follower and watch time threshold, you can apply to join the YouTube Partner Program and earn money to have ads run in your videos. Determine how you’d like to work with brands (reviewing products, being an ambassador, running sponsored videos, posts or podcasts) and develop fair rates to ensure you are compensated for your time.

Thumbs up?

Whether you’re just on social media to share farming practices, joke or commiserate, there is a legitimate business case for earning money while doing it. Have questions about how to get started? Get in touch.


Rosie Thoni is AdFarm’s U.S. PR and Content Lead, Canadian farm kid turned suburban Kansas dog mom, and resident AP Style nerd.