During what has been an unprecedented six months globally, within the comms sphere, one method of communication has risen above all others in terms of reach, effectiveness and power – social media. Just 20-years-ago, social media was a method reserved for a small elite groups of individuals, but ask any person under 50 today what they most use their mobile phone for, and you’d be genuinely surprised if they said anything other than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or the like.

With normal social practices on hold for the majority of 2020, we have turned to alternative methods of contacting our loved ones, keep in touch with the outside world and stay in the know. The food and farming industry has embraced this change, sharing knowledge, know-how and creating an eye into this sector that few know about, but none could do without.

In episode eight of the Agri Food Comms Cast (AFCC), we delve deeper into what makes some of the most successful recent social media campaigns in the food supply chain– how engagement with the industry was achieved, but also how the reach is extending to those who were able and willing to learn more about where their food comes from, whilst supporting British farmers.

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Extending your audience

AHDB were hot on the uptake, seeing the gap in the market left by the cancellation of all sporting events just two weeks after the country was placed into lockdown and subsequent appetite for fixtures as restrictions eased.

Karl Pendlebury speaks to us about the latest execution of the #makeitbeef and #makeitlamb campaigns. Leveraging the opportunity of furloughed chefs usually employed at football stadiums and clubs, AHDB teamed up with them to promote British beef and lamb, creating exciting recipes matched to football teams and shared on the AHDB Twitter feed as part of a weekly competition aligned with televised sporting events held behind closed doors.

The public were then invited to vote for their favourite dish in a ‘chef-off’, thus bringing a little competitive charm to the occasion. By supporting not only British farmers, but the entire supply chain, the AHDB Beef & Lamb team created a platform on which to champion premium cuts, which saw such a drastic decline in sales at the outset of lockdown. The ideal combination of a call to action and a delicious, enticing meal, was the perfect recipe for engagement, with the niche targeted market embracing the campaign.

This unique and cleverly timed format tapped into the appetite of those who’d normally engage with the social sporting calendar. It saw the power of two great infrastructures, agriculture and football, combine, honing in on an audience at the perfect time for maximum visibility. Through consistent and catchy posts, as well as engaging followers to vote for their favourite team and recipe, AHDB harboured an increased engagement level from 1% to 9.5% in just six months, a tool they look to maintain moving forward.

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Shortening the supply chain through social media

With the power of digital communication so clear, the NFU has made the decision to reinvigorate their extremely successful 2019 #yourharvest campaign this harvest season.

Last year’s campaign saw local MP’s invited into the ‘hot seat’ of tractors across the country, giving them the first-hand experience so relevant when forming policy in Westminster. But, sadly, once again Covid-19 restrictions scuppered plans. This year’s campaign has a different feel, but the same goals. Farmers from across the country will be sharing their stories, using the power of social media to show how our sector is supporting and feeding the nation.
The link between farm and fork has never been shorter, with lockdown forcing customers to look closer to home for their next meal, embracing farm shops, pick your owns and local flour mills, for example. Flour sales rocketed and following six months of extreme weather, from floods to searing heat. British farms now have the opportunity to show their vital role in food security and food production, as well as environmental protection. Everyone is encouraged to utilise the hashtag #yourharvest with their videos across their social media platforms, from the cockpit of the combine to the heart of the fruit field, proactively supporting British farming this harvest.

Though considered one of the simplest ways to contact consumers, this is far from the truth and there is a real knack with social media, which these industry powerhouses have been championing throughout this challenging time.