A new scheme by NFU Mutual provides small farming businesses with free access to social media expertise to boost their online following.
The rural insurer is offering small business customers access to Maybe*’s social media tools as part of a new support package.
The scheme helps businesses connect with local shoppers through a free year-long subscription worth £1,140 giving access to social media tools, advice and insight.
One business that has benefitted is Hayles Fruit Farm, which is located just outside the ancient market town of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds.
The farm has been run by the by the Harrell family since 1950. Today, it has diversified and offers a tearoom and a farm shop, together with fishing and camping facilities.
Since launching a transactional website, the farm has found social media a valuable tool to bring in more customers and now has an audience across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of over 5,000.
Instagram has proved to be a particularly effective tool for the business. Prior to 2020, the farm posted sporadically throughout the year.
Since lockdown, the farm has needed to use social media even more as a way of connecting to local customers.
It has now more than tripled the amount of social media content it produces and the engagement on that content.
By being more active and more engaged on social media, Hayles is benefitting from the increasing level of support from the community as is it looked for more ways to support local firms.
Through lockdown, the farm was well placed to serve local customers with grocery deliveries, making sure that it was communicating its 'Takeaway Tuesdays' initiative.
The farm has continued to offer these services, as well as building on the Euros tournament and Olympics to offer customers a bundle of its own cider, which now has its very own newly-launched social media feeds.
Joe Harrell, Hayles Fruit Farm, said the business was constantly learning and had plans to experiment more with Instagram Stories and with Reels.
“Instagram is relatively new for us but we are already seeing that we are engaging followers at a rate higher than accounts with thousands of followers more than us, so we’re really encouraged by the response.
"We’ve realised people engage more when we use social media to show behind the scenes, get to know us and the team, and understand how the land is farmed and how the cider is made.”
Small businesses, including retailers, cafes, offices, surgeries and farm shops insured with NFU Mutual, are being offered the free social media support.
Eligible customers wanting to register for 12 free months of Maybe* membership can contact their local NFU Mutual Agent office for details.