Farming News - Social media support helps fruit farm sales blossom

Social media support helps fruit farm sales blossom

Business is booming at a historic Winchcombe fruit farm – with help from social media experts Maybe*.

Other farm shops insured with NFU Mutual can 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. 

NFU Mutual’s scheme aims to help its 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.

NFU Mutual & Maybe* can offer the following advice for farm shops looking to boost their social media success:

  • 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

For further information on NFU Mutual’s partnership with Maybe*, visit NFU Mutual’s website here.

Case Study

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.

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.”

Zoe Knight, Commercial Insurance Expert at NFU Mutual, said: “As a mutual organisation, we are in business to look after our members and their communities-something we’ve been doing for the last 110 years.

“Our offer of free access to Maybe*’s social media advice for our small business customers is part of a wider programme of support to build resilience across our communities after the impacts of the pandemic.

“The Maybe* service also offers shoppers discounts and rewards with other local retailers when they support local, helping to drive business across the local network and passing benefits to the general public too. With NFU Mutual research showing that 55% of shoppers want to support local, we hope these rewards will make it even more inviting for shoppers to do business with their local retailers.”

Polly Barnfield, Chief Executive of Maybe*, said: “Hayles Fruit Farm is one of many businesses that has seen success from adapting it’s 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, they’ll also be included in online Local Guides which promote all local businesses and share local rewards with customers, delivered via their mobile phones.”

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.

Offer terms & conditions

12 months free subscription to the Maybe* ‘Engage Plus’ package from date of sign up, available until 30th April 2022. Available to new and existing NFU Mutual small business insurance customers, Commercial Select customers with a premium of up to £2,500 and Farm Essentials and Farm Select customers with a farm shop diversification. After that period if you wish to continue using the services of Maybe* a monthly charge will apply.