I have a farm. We’re crawling with pastured chickens & turkeys, fresh organic veggies, and fruits.
There are moments every day worth sharing. Turkeys gobbling at the sound of the tractor, the barn across the street swimming in a beautiful low fog, fuzzy caterpillars, fruit tree blossoms, and sprouts galore. For all my disappointment with social media platforms and surveillance capitalism, Instagram and similar platforms are still the place to share such moments and connect with people interested in similar things. It’s where most people hang out online, whether I like it or not.
The female motorcycle community is strong on Instagram, so I keep an Insta account for Rag Magazine. It’s neglected but at least passively it sort of works (and honestly a little embarrassing that I rarely update it, but I’ve chosen to let it live as a static mood-board for the brand rather than an active social engagement tool).
With my multi-colored eggs and various creatures with amusing personalities, I felt drawn to create an account for our farm. You know, it’s what people do to share their business…right?
It helped that on the rare times I check the Rag Insta I get a CTA to create another account. The cynic in me knows they want a personal account to serve ads to, to lock me in more so I spend more time on the platform. I’m sure there’s no money in selling ads to a business profile like @ragmotomag.
On a whim I relented, I clicked to make another account. Lucky me, @ironhorsefarmstead was available.
Then my luck ran out. Trying to add my new email and phone, something went wrong. I got an error message that they’d get back to me in 30 days. Was I too spammy? Either way, @ironhorsefarmstead never came to be. I can’t log into it, and I am not allowed to set up an account using it. The username both doesn’t exist, and isn’t available.
And there is no recourse. These platforms are set up to be so so complicated, their version of customer service is to send you on a wild goose chase until you get frustrated and give up (no really, see The Facebook Files on WSJ for more on that).
On par with endless customer service phone lines, but with loopholes of links instead of touch tone options. You click and click, you go in circles. There is no humanity, there is no way to contact anyone to get help.
It’s been a month, no news, and I’m finally realizing this is the sign. I don’t put much stock in fate or “signs” as some people do. The way I feel about not being able to share my farm on Insta though, that’s telling.
I feel a tension that I’m not following marketing “best practices”. I feel a tension that I’m not showing up and meeting people where they are. That I’m hiding, or worse just not being seen. I also don’t fully care, I have little drive to scream into the void on Insta.
I have friends who know I love rainbow eggs. They send me links from accounts they follow. Farms that are hundreds, or even thousands, of miles from where they live. They send me gorgeous flat lays of eggs in a stunning palette of shades, eggs neither of us will ever taste, but that look a lot like mine. This makes me think about why I’d spend time sharing online with people who would never taste what I raise.
Maybe I’ll never gain access to @ironhorsefarmstead. Maybe I will. But I do recognize that I don’t need to pour energy into entertaining people around the world with my farm. Instead, that energy will go into connecting with my community right here in town. The effort that matters is the effort that goes into developing my local food-shed.
Yes, I can inspire others with the right online presence. But what’s most important is sharing nourishing, heritage foods with my direct community. Other than feeding my family, that’s why I do what I do.
If you’re running a business or trying to make change in the world you surely feel drawn to show up online, to do the social thing. If you’re saying “yes” to have a social presence, what are you saying “no” to in order to make time to run that world online? Time is always a tradeoff.
Conversion rates on the web are small. It’s true face to face connection that really moves the needle.
Is there a local group in your niche that you can join? Somewhere to get involved and meet your tribe in your local area? Maybe you sponsor and curate a tiny free library, a free pantry, or a pop up shop at a local market.
If you love taking photos and writing a little something to caption it, let them live on your website itself. They live forever there, no one can take away the keys. In time I can see that this is the best option for me and my farm, showing off in the place that matters (the space online that I own) right on ironhorsefarmstead.com.
Offline matters, more and more every day. (For creatives, this is on topic and well worth a read)
Best practices are best practices because at one point they worked. With the way the world is changing maybe it’s about time you made your own practices the best for you and your community. Never mind what the experts say, they’ll never know you or the people you serve as well as you do.