How to Get More Online Product Reviews

Social-proof is the best way to sell a product. Consumers want to know that they’re making a smart, informed decision based on what others are doing. Displaying product reviews written by previous customers has been shown to boost sales by 270%! Here’s why:

It can help to legitimize your business
Often online shopping can be a gamble for buyers. Reading reviews written by previous customers gives a sense of relief that your business is real and they will actually receive the product they ordered.

It provides unbiased insight
As a business owner, you know that your product is better than the rest, however you are obviously biased. You know what work you put in and why that sets you apart from the competition. As effective as self marketing is, having others to vouch for you gives potential buyers proof that others believe and stand by your product. Your customers don’t have to say they love your product, but the fact that they did says a lot.

It gives you a good reputation
This is simple, however the most important point. The fact that people like your product means it’s good. A good reputation amongst buyers guarantees sales and the more positive reviews a business has, the better their reputation.

As important as reviews are for your business, it can be hard to get the ball rolling. Follow these tips, and watch your reviews pile in:


This can be an intimidating task, however it’s often the most effective. As a food producer, you know your customer relationships best. When thinking of who you ask and who you don’t, ask yourself:

  • Are there customers you know on a personal level? Perhaps you sell to your neighbour or long-time friend – they can be great assets to help get you started.
  • Have you had a selling relationship with a customer for over a year?
  • Do they tell you how much they love your product already?

Asking yourself these questions before asking your customers increases the likelihood that they will leave you a positive review. You can also consider leaving a “Leave a review here” message or button on your social media platforms, website or promotional emails.

Make it easy

If it’s hard to leave a review most customers will not go to the trouble. If you’re looking for testimonials to include on your website or other promotional materials, consider linking a Google Form page where you outline pre-set questions or answers that customers can easily fill out. After you receive responses, you can easily upload these answers to your websites.

Additionally, social media sites such as Facebook provide a great platform for reviews. If you have a Facebook business account, you can enable this feature and watch the reviews come in. If you haven’t set up the ratings and review function, this blog post outlines this process. As your customers are already on Facebook, leaving a review is simple.

Give customers incentives to leave reviews

Offer customers discounts, free samples, or first-ordering perks if they leave a review or fill out a feedback form. This will increase the likelihood a customer will leave a review as they are getting something in return.

Please note, this can have a positive and/or negative impact on your business, so we recommend trying the other two before and not offering this for social media reviews.

The truth about online reviews is that it takes time to build an accord with your customer base and to build a collection of testimonials and reviews. Don’t get discouraged if you are just starting out! Use these methods to help encourage your audience to do you the favour!

How to Take Better Farm Photos for Instagram

Social media is all about content. Consumers like quality photos that represent your brand, story, and product! Good content increases sales, while bad content can be very detrimental to your business. Stop posting sub-par images today and start taking beautiful, sticky photos with these tips:

Pick a theme

Your Instagram profile is a grid of all your content. When first visiting your page, users will see a collection of your last 6-9 pictures. It is important when you are taking and posting photos to your profile, you are considering what the collection of photos will look like together. It’s great to have a mix of farm and staff photos, with some product photos. You want to share your story and day-to-day, however still show what you are selling.

A theme or general idea of what type of content you are posting, will reduce the likelihood of having a cluttered or unsynchronized feed and help you determine what photos you need to take. This also helps with branding purposes.

It’s all about composition

Composition is a skill that photographers take a career to master. The difference between a beautiful and an average photo is how the elements of the photos are placed within the frame. For beginners, make sure you are focusing on one element (such as an animal for example), and always have something in the foreground or front of the frame and something in the background. This will give your photo depth and make it appear more professional. Also, consider taking the photo from different perspectives and switching the angle. Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground if that’s what it takes.

Consider your device (it might be time to upgrade!)

Your Instagram page starts with your camera. At the end of the day you can’t change the quality of a photo after it’s been taken. You can clearly tell the difference from a high-quality photograph taken by a DSLR camera versus a photo taken by an older digital camera or mobile device. Make sure you are using the best device available to you. Don’t have access to a camera? The hardware on newer models of smartphones are changing the game for photography and can produce high-quality sharable photos.

Note – if a photo looks blurry or grainy – it’s not the best quality. The higher the quality, the more professional the photos appear.


In order to take a beautiful photograph – you need to have good lighting. Be sure to always use natural light. Flash photography and artificial lighting can be very hard to work with and often don’t look that great.

Also, if you’re taking photos outside, make use of “golden hour”. Golden hour is a term used in photography that represents the short period of time right after sunrise and right before sunset. During this time, daylight appears redder and softer due to the sun being higher in the sky. This is the best natural lighting to work with.

Slap a filter on it

Filters can work wonders for an image (if done correctly). Filters have allowed the average joe to create beautiful, bright photos without lighting in their favor. Consider playing around with different filters to enhance the natural beauty of your photos.

Note – often pre-made “free” filters provided by Instagram or free apps can appear over-saturated and reduce the quality of a photo. I would recommend using VSCO or any other applications that allow you to adjust parameters such as saturation, brightness, highlights, and shadows manually. This allows you to “create your own filters” that work perfectly for that specific image. This step may take some extra time versus a pre-made filter, however can make a world of difference.

Stay away from the zoom!

If you’re using a smartphone for your photography, refrain from using the zoom function. The lenses in our phones don’t have the same capacity as a removable, adjustable lens on a higher quality camera. Poor zoom can quickly reduce the quality and give you a blurry/grainy photo.

Taking photos of products? Consider this

Instagram is a marketing tool – therefore you must showcase what you actually sell. Product photographs are an important element of your page. Food must look appetizing, otherwise customers won’t want to buy it. Here are some quick tips:

  • Use produce that is bright in color and has the least amount of blemishes. We all know there’s nothing wrong with a piece of fruit that has a few bumps and bruises – however for marketing purposes, pick your best looking products.
  • Take the photos with natural scenery. Small scale farming practices are all about the good, natural and ethical production of food. Taking a photo your final product with natural scenery in the background helps connect the product itself with its production. If that’s not possible, consider using natural fabrics, textures and tones as the background of your photos – this will help make the link to handmade and natural production.
  • Avoid shadows. When you take a photo of something straight from above, shadows occur and can dominate a photo. Adjust the angle of shooting, to reduce the intrusion of shadows in your pictures.

We hope this helps get you started. We don’t expect to you become professional photographers overnight – however getting better at making your own content will save you the hassle and costs of having to hire someone to do it for you.

Happy shooting!

How to Become Great at Digital Marketing (Starting Today!)

Marketing allows your customers to understand your business, your products, and why you’re unique. Good marketing can help you reach your target market, increase your customer base, and ultimately, boost your profits!

Today, your business needs a mix of online and offline marketing, and this post is going to explain how to master and grow your online (digital) marketing. Let’s get started!

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is any type of promotion or marketing initiative using an online platform, service, or a type of technology. There are five main aspects of digital marketing. These include:

  • Devices – Any device or type of technology a consumer is using to interact with the marketing; including smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, etc.
  • Platforms – These are the social media platforms, emails, websites, and any other application.
  • Media – This is any paid, owned and earned communications channels for reaching and engaging with audiences.
  • Data or Analytics – This is any insight data collected on target markets to inform businesses on how to best interact with their target audiences.
  • Technology – Any interactive experiences businesses use to market their product, such as in-store kiosks or email campaigns.

Each of these aspects require different strategies and can take years to master (but don’t worry, it doesn’t take years to get results!). Here are the best tactics to become a pro:

Create “likeable” and “shareable” content

Successful digital marketing all starts with good content. Content is anything from photos and videos to blog posts or recipes. It’s anything that you create to help promote or “market” your business. Bad quality content can be very harmful, while great content can make the difference between thriving and surviving at the end of the year.

To build great content, it has to be a mix of what you want to say and what your audience is interested in. This middle ground can be hard to find. Here are some tips:

    • Look at what your competition is doing – This can help you get insight into what’s working for them and how it may be able to work for you.
    • Create content that is helpful – This tip is more relevant for blogs; yet is important if you want to create written content. Your blog content should be engaging and useful for your target audience so that they actually read it. Put yourself in their shoes, if you were a consumer buying your product, what would you want to know? For example, if you’re a vegetable producer, share tips on how to keep produce fresh in the fridge or how to make stock out of peels and cooking scraps.
    • Tell your storyThis can be a great place to start with your content. Food is extremely personal, so people want to know more about where theirs is coming from. Share your background, how you grow food, and where you do it! This can be done through photos and videos too!
    • Look at your analytics This may be simple, however a great way to know what your customers want is to look at what they like. Use your social media and website analytics tools to see what content is getting the most traction. Something working? Keep doing it.
Don’t forget about mobile!

If you have a website that hosts your content and store, it’s extremely important to optimize for both mobile and desktop use. There is nothing more frustrating than clicking on a social media link to be sent to a website that hasn’t been formatted for mobile. A true mobile-friendly website is not only esthetically pleasing, however also functions correctly and seamlessly. Your customers should be able to access your website from any browser and device, and should get what they’re looking for – immediately.

Social proof!

Simply put, there’s a lot out there. Consumers have more choice today than they’ve ever had in regards to food. It can be extremely overwhelming to know which is the best choice. As a marketer, it is your job to convince them you’re the best choice. Use the power of social proof to show consumers why your business is exceptional. Try these methods for the best results:

  • Ask current customers to provide testimonials and share them on your channels
  • Share customer photos on social media by asking them to use a specific hashtag (#) to be featured
  • Collaborate with “influencers” that have a big following and get them to talk about you!
  • Post content that people will want to share and watch the follows roll in

Each of these methods are great forms of marketing – and they didn’t come directly from you to the consumer. The use of social proof strengthens what you have to say, because in short: you’re not the only one that thinks your product is great!

Use email!

Unlike social media or ads, emailing creates a direct channel from you to consumers and can be an extremely productive marketing tool. According to a survey by Mckinney iConsumer, email is still the most effective marketing channel – nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.

To make the most use of this tool – you need to build an email list right from the start. As you continue to grow your business, your list will continue to grow. It is important to note that smart digital marketing is not only about getting new customers and growing your customer base; it is also about creating lasting business relationships with your customers. Getting a repurchase from an existing customer is a lot cheaper than getting a new customer. Emailing allows you to keep communication open and generate personal relationships.

Focus on organic engagement

If you have a little bit of experience in social media marketing, you’ll know that it’s all about engagement. The higher the engagement, the more likely you will be able to sell something!

There are two main forms of engagement: organic and inorganic (or paid). Paid ads on Instagram or Facebook can allow you to reach a broader audience, however can come across as pushy and gets expensive – quickly.

Organic engagement comes from good content and is the most sustainable moving forward. It creates a long term following, trust with your followers, and is a great form of social proof! Ads can work; however, focusing on creating great content and an online community is much more effective and durable in the future. If you’re just getting started with digital marketing, spend your funds on the content, rather than paying for inorganic engagement.

Digital marketing is a broad and complicated topic. People spend years studying the ins and outs of what makes up a successful digital marketer. It can be extremely complicated, yet it doesn’t have to be. Picking and choosing what methods are tangible and work for your business can make a huge impact.

To get started with social media platforms and platform digital marketing, we’ve created some great resources to help you!

Start with signing up with Instagram. We found that it can be very effective at getting new customers and driving sales. This article outlines the steps to get you started.

Additionally, explore the world of email campaigning using Mailchimp, a program that allows you to schedule your emails ahead of time and automate the process. If you want to learn more about Mailchimp and how to use it to the best of your advantage, check out this post.

Now that you have the tools and tips to get started, there’s nothing stopping you!

3 Ways to Use Instagram Insights to Get More Customers

Tracking your analytics may seem like a tedious and overwhelming task, yet it really doesn’t have to be! It can help you determine what to post, how frequently, and if your hard work is paying off. As a small business owner and food producer, we understand that you are extremely busy – so why not make the most of your marketing strategies to grow your business, and measure your success.

Luckily, Instagram does a lot of the work for you! When you switch to a business account, you get access to Instagram Insights, an analytics feature. If you haven’t yet switched to a business account, or haven’t signed up for an Instagram account – this post will guide you through the process.

Within Instagram Insights, you get access to three main sections: Activity, Content, and Audience. These sections can tell you crucial information about who is interacting with your content and whether your marketing is paying off. To learn more about these insights and what they are telling you – check out this post.

Now, that you understand what analytics are and what they are telling you, it is important to use them to help you! Here are our three best tips to help you get started:

Set a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A key performance indicator or KPI is a measurable parameter that can be used to evaluate success. As success looks different for each business, you must determine which parameter works for you to measure. If your business thrives on community and communication with your audience, track engagement. If you are looking to build your customer base and following, track reach.

Note: Reach is the number of unique visitors to a piece of content and engagement is the number of comments and likes on a piece of content.

By determining what you’re tracking, you have the ability to determine what success will look like for you. Create a spreadsheet and update results each week. Within a few weeks you will be able to see trends and adjust your strategy to meet your goals!

Calculate Engagement Rate for each of your posts

Engagement Rate represents the percentage of your followers that are engaging with a certain post or story. It is not a value that Instagram calculates for you, however it can easily be calculated two ways:

Method 1: Engagement Rate (%) = [(Number of Likes and Comments) / Number of Followers] x 100


Method 2: Engagement Rate (%) = [(Number of Likes and Comments) / Reach] x 100

Method 1 calculates the Engagement Rate against all of your followers. This value determines how many of all your followers are actually engaging with your posts. Low values can be due to many factors such as posting times, hashtags, videos versus photos, and more!

Method 2 calculates the engagement rate against all the followers you actually reached. It determines out of all the people that saw your content, how many actually engaged with your post. This value can be useful for when analyzing the content itself. For example, if this many followers are seeing the content, why do only 10% like it?

Both methods provide powerful insights into your posts and engagement with customers. By playing around with types of content, hashtags, posting times, and more – you can use the engagement rates to determine which gets you the best results. Similar to your KPI, make sure you are tracking this value over time to get accurate results.

Posting times

In the Audience section of Instagram Insights, you will find information about your followers such as top locations, age range, gender and followers. This information can give you insight about your followers and when they’re engaging with your content. Most importantly, use the followers section to track at what time of day and which day of the week your followers are most active. Schedule your posts to match peak use times. This will increase possible engagement your customers will have with your content.

These are just three ways you can use Instagram Insights to grow your following and increase customer engagement. There is still much more to be learned and to explore in this space. By fine-tuning your strategy using real-time data, you are able to better use the system. Don’t let analytics scare you off, but instead use them to help you run a more successful business!

How to Use Instagram Stories as a Marketing Tool (Like a Pro)

Instagram has proved an extremely useful tool for marketing. Many businesses are using it to increase their customer engagement and develop their brand. As a food supplier, Instagram allows you to share your story and show transparency in your food business. Your profile can be personal, unique, and approachable!

Unlike creating a post on Instagram, Stories are a temporary image or video that you can share with your audience. They are formatted for mobile-viewing and are visible for 24 hours. Stories show authenticity, as they are quick and easy to digest, versus a curated Instagram profile feed. They can be used to talk directly to your audience and allows them to “talk right back” by using direct messaging on the app. You can’t market on Instagram without using Stories.

How to use Instagram Stories:

Step 1: Open the Instagram application to your newsfeed. This should be where you can view all the posts of the accounts you follow. At the top of the page, under the Instagram logo, there are profile pictures of the accounts you follow with pink circles around them. These are the stories of the accounts you follow. You can click through these to see what others are doing!

Step 2: To create your own story, click the camera icon in the top left corner above the picture of your logo. It will prompt you to your camera. You can also get here by clicking your logo in the top left corner. Note, if you have not granted Instagram access to your camera or microphone, do this. It must be granted in order to create a story.

How to use Instagram Stories as a marketing tool - Local Line
This is what you will see when you enter Stories mode. Note all of the icons on the screen.

Step 3: To update settings, click the settings icon in the top right corner. Here you can change who can see your story, saving preferences, and more. Set these settings to best meet your needs. To go back to the newsfeed, click the arrow in the top right corner.

At the bottom of the screen, you will see these icons from left to right: a square, a lightening bolt, a big white circle with a lighter circle around it, two arrows forming a circle, and a happy face emoji. 

Square: This will prompt you to your camera roll. You can use any of the photos on your device for your stories.
Lighting bolt: This will update the lighting options for your camera – such as flash and low-light setting.
Circle: This is the trigger to take a photo or a video.
Circle of Arrows: Flip the camera.
Happy face: This is where you can find face filters for silly photos or videos.

Additionally, there are also a series of words that you can scroll through. These mean:

Type: Allows you to type on a coloured screen if you do not want to have a photograph/video.
Live: This is a setting that will let you live-stream with your customers.
Normal: Regular camera/video.
Boomerang: This will allow you take a “moving” picture.
Superzoom: Different filters for video-taking such as Surprise or Paparazzi.
Focus: Take a portrait by blurring out backgrounds around a subject.
Reverse: Play videos in reverse.
Hands-free: Allows you to take videos without having to hold the centre button.

These many options will allow you to create content specific to you. Play around with the options and determine what you like best!

Step 4: After you are happy with a photo or video to share, you can edit your post by clicking on the icons at the top of the page! Instagram provides many tools, such as adding text, drawings, hashtags, account mentions, etc. These are called Stickers. They help add actions to your posts and increase engagement. You can access them by clicking on the square icon located at the top of the screen.

Here are some stickers you should use:

Poll sticker: Ask your customers what they want by asking questions with customized answers. Instagram will show the results and let you make educated decisions. For example, what day is best for delivery? Monday or Tuesday?
Questions Sticker: This sticker allows your followers to ask questions relevant to a topic. For example, ask which day is best for delivery, and let your followers send you their responses. It is an informal way to speak directly to your audience.
Hashtag sticker: Hashtags can be a very powerful tool at reaching potential customers. A hashtag sticker will link your story to the hashtag and automatically get added to the Explore page. Remember, that hashtags can also quickly come across as spammy, therefore make sure to be critical when using a hashtag.
Location sticker: Add the Geotag (location)! Same with adding a hashtag, this sticker links your story to all posts in the same location, which helps increase your exposure.  

In addition to these stickers, there are many more! There is a lot to discover on stories, therefore play around with the features when you’re first starting out.

Step 5: Tap the Your Story button to post your story publicly, Sent to to send it privately to selected accounts, or Save to download it to your phone to post at a later date.

Instagram Story Highlights

Keep your stories on your profile forever! Instagram stories only last for 24 hours, however the app lets you make a Highlight, which is a curated collection of chosen stories to stay on your profile. These highlights can be used for:

  • Frequently asked questions – use the Questions sticker to ask your customers for questions. Save these stories as a highlight to easily answer any questions new visitors may have about your business.
  • Farm tour – film a farm tour on your stories and save to your highlights. This will help show new followers where their food is produced and who’s doing it!
  • Products – showcase popular or new products on your story and save as a highlight to keep them visible on your profile.

To create a highlight, go to your profile. Underneath the bio section, you should find a circle with a plus sign. Click this and it will guide you to an archive of your past stories. Pick which stories you would like to use and add a title. The highlight will show up on your profile.

Stories and highlights can be a very useful marketing tool to help your business account connect with more followers and in turn help you increase your customer base. Use the tips above and before you know it, you’ll be an Instagram marketing pro!

4 Ways to Increase your Instagram Following

Our last post covered the benefits of Instagram and how to create an account. Instagram is an extremely powerful tool that focuses on visual content to help you showcase your business and products. Food is a very visual industry, so why not make use of a tool that amplifies that?

Just like any marketing tool, you need to build a following in order to get customers. When first starting out with Instagram it can be overwhelming to reach your audience, so we have compiled some tips to help you get started! Here are the best Instagram practices to help your business increase its following:

1. #teamfollowback

Just starting your profile? Network amongst your community by following other local suppliers, restaurants, retailers and other customers. This will give them a nudge that you moved to Instagram or help you get traction with potential buyers. Additionally, when you’re looking to increase your following, it is important to follow customers back. Just like being personal through direct messaging or commenting, following your customers shows you care (as funny as that sounds). As your following grows, this will be less important, however when first starting out be sure to practice this!

2. Check your insights!

When you switch to an Instagram Business account you have access to Insights. Insights gives you data about who’s looking at your content. It will help you determine what’s working and what isn’t! If you haven’t set up a business account, check out this blog post.

To access your insights, click the stacked lines in the top-right corner on your profile. Click Insights. Within Insights, you’ll see three main sections: Activity, Content, and Audience.

Within Activity, you see:

    • Interactions. It will give you insights such as number of profile visits and website clicks.
    • Discovery. Tells you more about who you’re reaching.
    • Reach and impressions. Reach is the number of unique visitors to your content and impressions is the number of times your content has been viewed.

Within Content, you see:

    • How many and which posts you’ve posted that week.
    • Post and story engagement. For example, which posts are most popular and how many people are engaging with it.
    • Promotions. This is only relevant if you pay for Instagram ads.

Within Audience, you see:

    • Locations. Where your followers are located. This can be split up into City or Country.
    • Age Range. It is interesting to see what age range you are attracting with your content.
    • Gender.
    • Followers. Shows you when your followers are most active on social media. This can help you determine when you should post to increase engagement.

Check your insights frequently to help you determine if you’re reaching the right audience and if your content is popular. Additionally use the Audience header to determine best posting times! Tracking your progress is essential for determining what works and what doesn’t. It also can help you make decisions that will help you increase your following.

3. Promote on all your platforms

If you are using multiple social media platforms – cross-promote! Post on your Facebook page to follow your Instagram account. This can help drive customers to follow on all platforms. Additionally, if you have a mailing list, add links to your social media channels in your emails. Sometimes in order to increase your following all you need to do is inform your customers.

4. Interact with followers beyond posting pictures

A great way to hook followers is being personal! Interacting with customers via Direct Message or starting conversations through commenting can have a lasting impact. Food is very personal and customers want to get to know who’s producing theirs. Just like selling in person, when selling online you want to maintain customer service! Don’t underestimate the power of personal communication!

There are many other methods to increase your following, however these are the four best ones to help you get started! Social media marketing is all about networking. You need to put work and effort in order for people to get hooked – just posting the occasional picture will not get you results. When done properly, Instagram can help you get new customers and build brand recognition. Follow these tips and watch the follows roll in!

How to Get Started with Instagram as a Farmer

Instagram is a great tool to help you market your business! It’s all about visual content and is great for showcasing your production process, your family & employees, and your products. Ultimately, it’s meant to portray authenticity, and allow your customers to understand your lifestyle. If you are a small-scale food producer, Instagram is a great way to create an online brand and drive demand for your products.

Why instagram?

It is a hub for literally everything! Over 25 million businesses use the application and 200 million instagrammers visit at least one business profile every day. There’s a ton of opportunity to engage potential customers and showcase your brand. Instagram is a powerful marketing tool!

Here’s a little background on Instagram.

Instagram is a social media platform that is made for sharing photographs and videos from your phone. Each user has a profile where they can upload photos and a news feed that shows content uploaded by those who you follow. When you upload a photo, it will be displayed on your profile and on the newsfeed of the people that follow you. It has an emphasis on fast and easy visual sharing.

But why is it helpful for food producers?

Food is a very visual industry! How many times have you seen pictures of a beautiful dish and thought, “I would eat that!” The goal of using Instagram as a marketing tool is to convince consumers to buy your products. This platform lets you upload photos and videos on your feed or on stories – a 24-hour quick, engaging photo/video format for smartphones – in a way that connects you with customers and keeps them up to date. It’s personal, simple-to-use, and extremely powerful! On top of this, it’s free, so there’s really no reason to not at least try it!

Let’s get started:
Step 1: Setting up your account

The first step is to download the app. Instagram, unlike other social medias, is meant to use on your phone, therefore to sign up and use the program, you must have access to a smartphone or tablet. When you first open the Instagram app, you will get prompted to sign up. Be sure to sign up using a business email address.

The next step is to enter your info:

Full Name: Enter the name of your business. This will allow your business to be recognizable amongst visitors.

Username: This is the name of what people search to find your business. It starts with @ symbol. For example Local Line’s username is @locallineinc

Please note: If the name of your business is already been taken, you may have to get creative.

Step 2: Building your account

Now that you have an account, it’s time to optimize it to start increasing your followers. Start with choosing your profile picture. This is an image that is associated with your account. We recommend using your logo as it keeps consistency with the branding of your business or a picture that best represents your business. Remember, that Instagram automatically crops your photos into a circle, therefore leave room in the corners for this.

Your Instagram bio is a short (150 character maximum) and concise summary of what you do! In your bio you can also urge followers to take an action by adding a URL such as your online store or business website. If using a URL, be sure to shorten your link using bitly to keep your profile from looking cluttered.

If you want to change anything later, you can always update your profile at a later date by clicking on the “Edit Profile” button.

How to use Instagram as a farmer - Spray Creek Ranch

Here is an example of an Instagram profile by Local Line customer Spray Creek Ranch.

Step 3: Switching to a business profile

At this point you have an account and profile ready to go! The next step is to make your public profile a business profile. To do this, go to the Settings tab. It can be accessed by clicking the three stacked lines located in the upper-right corner of the homepage. Click the settings button located at the bottom of the page.

How to use Local Line as a farmer - Local Line

In Settings, scroll down to Account. Click Switch to Business Profile. Instagram will lead you through how to switch. Note, in order to create a business profile, you must already have a business Facebook page.

How to use Instagram as farmer - Local Line

This will let your profile appear as a business to your followers. It will also give you access to analytics that will give you insight on posting times, followers, engagement and more. In a business profile, you are able to add location, category, phone number, email and directions. These features can help you increase your sales.

Now you have set up your account properly and are ready to start instagramming!


How to Use MailChimp Marketing to Increase your Sales!

Local food is hard to access, and there’s only a small percentage of people who truly go out of their way to purchase the majority of their food locally. As a consumer, it’s much easier to go to a grocery store instead of ordering online and coordinating delivery with a local food producer. It is your role to communicate with consumers on why purchasing from you is worth it – whether that’s for their health, to support their community, or to help the environment.

Every marketing tool has its place and are essential for connecting with customers. Social media is great for sharing photos and content, however creates too much noise, and things get lost too easily. What you need is a direct channel to customers to share your products, story, and life with them. This is where email campaigning comes in. MailChimp allows you to create demand by telling your authentic story. Instead of just sending another email, use this tool to best showcase your lifestyle and products to potential customers. They need that pull in order to commit to being a customer.

So, what is MailChimp?

MailChimp is an online email marketing tool that allows small businesses who lack high end tools and resources to access technology that helps them grow. It makes email campaigns flawless. The tool lets you use templates, fill in your business specific content, choose recipients and send! Further, the tool provides services like email automation, marketing campaigns and analytics*.  It will reinvent your emailing procedures.

*Note: Analytics is the discovery, accumulation and communication of data collected on your marketing, such as number of clicks, views, and replies.

So, let me tell you how it can help you with your food business! These are some of the best features of MailChimp, how to use them and how they can help you increase your sales:

Templates, templates and more templates!

Do you struggle with making your emails look flashy? MailChimp has premade professional templates that allow you to fill in the blanks with your information. These templates include different kinds of text boxes, dividers, buttons, social media links, and more. You probably had never thought of adding those to your emails in the past! It takes the work and time out of designing your own templates! You can also save templates you’ve used in the past and use them in different email campaigns. These templates make your emails look flashy and professional, while saving you so much time from having to format them time and time again.

To increase your sales, use templates to create emails that include:

  • A header that represents your business and products. We recommend using a nice photograph and placing your logo on top.
  • Photographs. Include beautiful pictures of your farm, production process and of you! Show people where their food is coming from. Also include pictures of new or featured products.
  • A link to where they can order from you and an explanation on how.
  • Any social media links where they can follow you for more information.
  • Any other content such as blog posts that you’ve written or videos that show what you do.

The power of automation.

Automation allows you to write the right emails to the right people and send them at the right time. Instead of sending individual emails, you can save time and money by letting the system do it for you. Whether your sending information about upcoming events, new products, or ordering deadlines, this system lets you customize sending lists, content and dates to a tee.

Here is some more explanation:

According to MailChimp, an automation is an email or series of emails sent to one individual based on a “trigger”.  A trigger is the event that starts an email/series. This event could be someone signs up for an emailing list to get more information or someone makes a purchase from you. Additionally, you can add a delay. A delay is the period of time between a trigger and the send. For example, when someone becomes a customer, take 2 days before sending them your welcome email. When a customer sets off a trigger, they get put into a queue, where they sit until the delay has passed. Just for reference, a queue is a group of contacts who meet the criteria and are waiting to receive their next email based on the delay.

There’s a lot of terminology – but essentially you set criteria such as purchasing a product or signing up to a mailing list, then MailChimp puts those contacts into a specified list. From that list, those contacts are sent timed marketing emails that you create and set-up only once. Think about how much time that saves you!

To increase your sales, we suggest:

  • Adding all new customers or interested people into a list in MailChimp. There are ways to have signups automatically populate into MailChimp, and the program provides detailed explanation on how to do so. If you can automate this process even further – we definitely suggest it!
  • This customer list should be sent an automated “Welcome Email”. This email should include a thank you message for joining or purchasing, information about your business and how they can easily order from you in the future.
  • A second automated email should be created and “delayed” to be sent a week after the welcome email reminding them how to order again.

You can take automation very far by adding multiple emails to a campaign that have different triggers. We recommend starting with this procedure and going from there! The more you use and learn about the program, the more you can achieve with email marketing!  

Open and click rates

Unlike your regular inbox, MailChimp tracks who opened and who clicked on the links provided in your emails. This can be a super powerful tool because it lets you know who’s interacting with what content. It allows you to give customers who aren’t opening your emails or haven’t clicked on the link to your online store a little nudge to get going. Notice someone is ignoring your emails? Maybe shoot them a call to remind them orders are due soon.

Further, it also lets you gauge which email campaigns work the best. Maybe you try one email campaign with one title versus another. The higher open rate suggests that the title works well. Additionally, you try a campaign with more photographs of your farm versus photographs of the products. The click rate will tell you which photos engage your audience more. Tracking these two rates gives you a clear picture of how to structure your emails.These numbers are easily found under View Report in the campaigns section in the program.

To increase your sales, we suggest:

Play around with these rates. When you create your first email campaign, put half of your contacts in one list and the other half in a different list. Switch up the email title between campaigns and add different photographs. By doing this you are able to compare which content or wording works better! This may take a few tries, but it’s a great way to get feedback on your strategies.

That all sounds nice, but you want to make money, not spend it on tools. So, let’s talk price.

In their pricing, they have three different options:

  • free starting at $0/month,
  • grow starting at $10
  • and pro starting at $199/month.

The main differences between the options is the extra features you have access to and amount of contacts and emails/month you can use.

For a food business, I would recommend trying the free option – yes, free! This gives you the opportunity to test the service and see the results before committing to a monthly fee. Additionally, the free version gives you 2000 subscribers (contacts) and 12000 emails/month. That’s plenty – especially if you are just starting out with email campaigning. Also, the free version also still gives you access to their great features mentioned above like automation and templates. Additionally, if you’re a Local Line user, you can easily import your contacts from Local Line to MailChimp. Click this link to find out how to do this- it saves a lot of time from manually inputting!

Email campaigning strikes a great balance between the convenience of automation, while also maintaining a personal relationship between you and your customers. They are receiving specialized curated content right to their inboxes. Trust me, it will help you increase your sales! Also, if it’s free – you don’t have an excuse to not get started today!

10 Ways Food Suppliers Should Use Social Media

As long as you post on social media, whether it be Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or a combination of any channels then you’re good, right? Not necessarily! Posting is a great start, but engaging your followers is how you get more followers, and create a strong brand presence online.

What is social media engagement anyway?

It’s not about interacting with every single customer. It is about building relationships with your customers over time – much like we do offline, a.k.a. in real life.

Social media is where people connect, relate and learn from each other and businesses alike.

How can you increase your social media engagement? There are 100s of ways, we’ll give you 10! Click on the links for awesome examples from our customers.

1. Post Frequently, When Your Followers Are Most Active

  • Assuming you have business accounts in social media, check your analytics data and insights with each account you use
  • Learn other great data that can help shape your posts to your target audience
  • Get more tips here

2. Call to Action – Tell Customers What You Want From Them

3. Show Appreciation

  • You feel amazing because of your followers right? Make them feel amazing back
  • Give a shout out to a customer who posts a photo of your product
  • Use “@” to show you care and pay attention to your loyal followers and partners, and reach more of their followers
  • Rootham Gourmet Thanks Partner Barrie’s Asparagus

4. Stay Connected, Stay Current

5. Acknowledge Mentions, Questions and Yes, Complaints.

6. Promote Partners – The More You Promote Them, They Will Promote You

7. Hashtags Work

  • What the heck is a hashtag? A word or phrase that is often preceded by a hash sign, #
  • Create your own
  • Use hashtags that relate to your business #lovelocal
  • Use in relevant conversations
  • Detonic Knows How to Use Hashtags #nailedit

8. Post The Good Stuff Happening In Your Community

9. Ask For Feedback

10. Host A “Chat with [Your Name Here]” Session

  • This is an exciting method of generating engagement, especially on Twitter. Post and tell followers that for 15 minutes, they can ask you anything and you will reply. Why?
  • It helps people connect with you on a personal level