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Small farms benefit from scheme offering free social media expertise

Business is booming at a historic Winchcombe farm, as a result of a new partnership that offers free social media expertise for small businesses.

Rural insurer NFU Mutual has teamed up with social media experts Maybe*, to provide small business policyholders, including farm shops, with free access to social media expertise.

Farm shops insured with NFU Mutual can now look to benefit from the same expertise for free, as the insurer offers its small business customers access to Maybe*’s social media tools as part of its support for communities during the pandemic.

The scheme aims to help NFU Mutual’s small business customers connect with local shoppers through a free year-long subscription worth £1,140, giving access to social media tools, advice and insight.

“We’re constantly learning”

Hayles Fruit Farm 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, Hayles 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 a social media 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 businesses.

Through lockdown, the farm was well placed to serve local customers with grocery deliveries. It made sure that it was communicating its ‘Takeaway Tuesdays’ to serve up ‘perfect pizzas’, and ‘fish and chip Friday’ provided an alternative way of getting a chippy tea.

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 label Badgers Cider, which now has its very own newly-launched social media feeds.

Hayles Fruit Farm has more than tripled the amount of social media content it produces and the engagement on that content.

Joe Harrell, Hayles Fruit Farm, said: “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’re constantly learning and have plans to experiment more with Instagram Stories and with Reels. 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.”

Polly Barnfield, chief executive of Maybe*, commented: “Hayles Fruit Farm is one of many businesses that has seen success from adapting its social media approach, using insight from Maybe* to be more strategic and targeted in their online activity. Our partnership with NFU Mutual will offer their small business customers the opportunity to use our expertise to build engagement and even drive sales.”

As part of the service, businesses are also included in online Local Guides which promote all local businesses and share local rewards with customers, delivered via their mobile phones.

NFU Mutual and Maybe* offer the following top tips for farm shops:

  • Tell your story – help your audience meet you and your team with photos and video
  • Use close-up images that show off your produce and where it’s come from, who’s grown it, reared it or made it
  • Be consistent and post regularly
  • Get involved with bigger events and theme offers and services around it to be relevant to your customers
  • Tag in other businesses if you stock them, use plenty of hashtags related to your industry and to your location.

Small businesses, including retailers, cafes, offices, surgeries and farm shops insured with NFU Mutual, are being offered the free social media support. Eligible NFU Mutual customers wanting to register for 12 free months of Maybe* membership can contact their local NFU Mutual Agent office for details.

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