Growing Their Following
These families harness social media to bring their farms to customers.
Brian Scott couldn’t have planned it better. One Friday evening in 2015, on a whim, the fifth-generation Indiana farmer took a video of his son driving a tractor.
Matthew was 6 at the time, a little cutie with dark blond curls and a wide smile. He wanted to be a farmer like his dad—and still does. Brian had been using social media to advocate for agriculture for about four years, and he posted the clip on his Facebook page without thinking too much about it. When he woke up on Saturday morning, his following had more than doubled overnight—from 17,000 to 40,000. That little video of his son had gone viral. “I quit reading comments that weekend because I couldn’t keep up,” Brian says. “I wasn’t even trying to do anything special.” Brian, who raises popcorn, wheat, corn and soybeans on 2,300 acres in the northwest part of the state, now counts almost 60,000 followers on his Facebook page. Brian’s blog, The Farmer’s Life, has nearly as many email subscribers. Brian also has accounts on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, with thousands more following on each platform. Though he and his father pretty much tend the land alone, save for seasonal workers, he can keep up online because he makes fast work of it. “You don’t have to spend a ton of time on it,” Brian says. “Just snap a picture and write a short explanation of what you’re doing. What’s been amazing to me is that those little things we do every day are mind-blowing to people who have never seen them before. Like GPS mapping, for example, which we use to guide our equipment in the fields for better accuracy and higher yields. People really want to know why: why we do this, or why we don’t do that.” While snapshots and videos of kids, as Brian discovered, can be social-media gold, not everyone wants to (or can) post them. Mimi Holtz handles social media for her family’s avocado ranch in San Diego County, California. Mimi’s efforts, including her Mimi Avocado blog and Twitter and Facebook accounts, marketed the ranch’s mail-order avocado gift boxes so successfully
that demand nearly outstripped production. Everything in her social media is about farming, not family. “My children have told me I am not to ever share a photo of their children,” Mimi says. “I was told as soon as they were born, ‘They will not be on social media.’ And that’s OK. I understand that.” Mimi’s husband doesn’t even want her using his name online— she simply refers to him as “the farmer.” Instead of family details, she offers recipes, answers questions about avocados and posts a lot of pictures. Thanks to those photos, Mimi now has more than 2,500 Instagram followers. “People really want to feel that personal connection to where their food is grown,” Mimi says. “I show them what it’s like to live in a forest of avocado trees, and what it’s like in the spring when they bloom and
#futurefarmer: A video of Brian Scott’s son Matthew driving a tractor went viral.
#freshgarlic: Bowles Farming Co. posted this picture in January of the fertilizer application process for its organic garlic crop. Mimi Avocado posted: Avocado trees are blooming, baby avocados for next year are appearing, and this year’s crop is also on the tree. Busy trees!