Having a website and social media pages isn't just for larger organizations -- farms of all sizes can benefit. Whether you're looking to hire additional labor, securing more land to rent or wanting to obtain new credit or financing, having a healthy presence on the internet helps you build relationships and showcases your operation.
We've noticed time and again the impact a lack of web presence has when it comes to hiring. We had two operations who both utilized AgHires' job adverting services who were located only a few miles from each other. The results were vastly different even though they were both hiring for a mechanic. One operation had a simple, but professional website, and the other operation could not be found on the internet. The operation with a website received four times the number of applicants!
With easy-to-build-from templates, just about any tech-savvy individual (think millennials) could create a website with little investment by the farm. If you have someone in the family who has time to focus on creating your web page, there are sites such as weebly.com, wix.com, and wordpress.com that can simplify the process with their templates and give you a professional look and feel. Besides the minimal fee for the domain name, around $20 a year, the cost is the investment of time. You could also hire an individual marketing consultant/freelancer to build a basic website, which would cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.
What matters most is the content on the website. It needs to be up to date, a true reflection of the farm, and be impactful. It doesn't need to be lengthy or full of multiple pages. The purpose of a website is two-fold: to provide information about your farm and to leave visitors with an impression about your organization. When developing your content, think about what message you would you like to leave visitors. As you are building your website or looking to update a current site, consider including these elements:
-- About Us
-- Farm History
-- Products and Services
-- Photo Gallery including farm photos, harvest, family
-- Farm Videos
-- Landlords or Partnerships
-- Links to social media sites such as Facebook
Facebook presence is also important and even easier to create and maintain. Similar to the content on the website, you should at least include a short "about us" paragraph, profile and cover photos, as well as other photos and videos. Include any contact information and your website if you have one. Consider adding other tabs to your page, such as careers/jobs and products/services, if you don't have a website.
We know statistically, when a job seeker sees an opening online they are interested in, before they even apply, over 65% of them first go to the internet to search the company. If there's no information to be found, they often won't apply for the role. Candidates want to get to know you a little before they say they're interested. A lack of a website may leave them with the wrong impression and tell them that you're not progressive.
We've also seen social media as another tool to connect with talent for farms. Those that follow your farm on social media are often great referrals when you have news to share about your farm's openings, especially in attracting seasonal labor. Think semi-retirees that might want to work a season but are not looking to be hired on full time. Creating a Facebook page or a Twitter account doesn't mean that you need to post something every day or even every week. This is just an easy way for future employees, and even customers, to learn a little bit about your farm.
The web presence gives you an opportunity to connect with others. We are seeing farms sharing everything from equipment to CFOs. If you want to attract the best candidates to your organization when you're hiring or even attract the best potential partners for your farm, the best thing you can do is have a great presence online.
Take a little time, take some pictures, write a little bit of content and put that information online.
Editor's note: Lori Culler grew up on a vegetable and grain farm and is the founder of AgHires (https://aghires.com/…), a national employment recruiting service and online ag job board based in Temperance, Michigan. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and find other labor management tips under Resources at www.dtnpf.com.
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