Caroline Arendt for Progressive Cattle Published on 21 November 2019

With the holidays quickly approaching – and the New Year quickly after that – it’s time to start thinking 2020 marketing for your outfit. With bull sale season being the first major event on many cattlemen and women’s calendars, it’s important to be prepared.

Although the task may seem daunting, consider harnessing the power of social media in this year’s plan. With online sales and promotions increasing in popularity in the digital age, it’s important to follow suit and show your presence on social media. When used correctly, social media creates a seamless and beneficial integration amplifying your already-proven products and creating profit.

While it can seem overwhelming to some, I’ve outlined a few helpful tips to help take your ranch through bull sale season and beyond next year.

1. Create a strategy

Social media works best when it’s used with an overall strategy in mind. Meaning, you can’t create an account or post the week before the sale and expect to see exceptional results and an influx of bids. Consider your goals for this year. Are you trying to convert your audience to buyers, getting more buyers to show up on sale day, or are you simply just trying to gain awareness by generating more followers? These are important things to note as to where to put your social marketing efforts. Facebook is a must, but don’t forget about Instagram. Instagram has 1 billion monthly users and shouldn’t be cut out even if the majority of your audience is on Facebook; the next generation is already using Instagram, and it’s important to have a presence on at least both platforms for optimum reach.

2. Create a page on Facebook and link your Instagram

If you already have at least a Facebook page, great! A way to give it a refresh is to make sure the contact information is up-to-date. A way to give your page a facelift is to add your ranch’s story in the bio and to create a new cover photo and profile picture. For sale season, you can even change your profile imagery to draw attention to your sale. To make sure your Facebook and Instagram accounts are connected, you can link your ranch’s Instagram profile under settings. This creates a one-click sharing to both platform options available and makes your life a whole lot easier.

3. Create a business account on Instagram

You’ll need a Facebook page to do this, but creating a business account on Instagram has many advantages, including getting an in-depth analysis on your audience and when they’re most active on the platform, giving you a good idea of when to share posts. You can change from a personal profile to a business profile in settings, then click “Account,” then link your Instagram to your Facebook’s business page. On a business account, you can also link and share your website, address and direct contact information, making it easier for folks to inquire. Make sure your bio gives the necessary information and drives traffic to your sale information, whether an online catalog or your website.

4. Use hashtags

Create a hashtag for your operation that can be used year-round and use it consistently. For major events and sales such as bull sales, you can also create event-specific hashtags to be used for promotion. For further reach, it’s good to experiment using hashtags closely associated with you, for example, if you raise and sell Angus cattle, use #angus, #anguscattle etc. This helps other producers and existing and potential customers discover and follow you. Remember quality over quantity; be sure to only use hashtags your audience will actually be searching for.

5. Share behind the scenes

Authenticity sells, and it creates a more personal connection on social media. Tell your ranch story, or the history and “why” behind your bull sale. Whether it’s introducing you and your family, highlighting a day in the life or showcasing behind the scenes of sale preparation, social media values authenticity and so will your customers. Instagram stories are a great place to share – they last for 24 hours and people are more likely to see your story before your post on the platform. Staying active on stories, even just sharing short updates, can have a big impact on your social media.

Pro tip: Under settings you can set your stories up to simultaneously share to your Facebook stories – reaching even more people.

6. Create an event on Facebook

Once your bull sale dates are confirmed, list it on Facebook as an event. You can create events through your business Facebook page and even create multiple events at a time. This gives people information about the event and lets you get a headcount of who’s coming. You can also provide updates to those interested and share select sale information here, including highlighted lots, food options, driving directions and more.

7. Social media advertising

Be sure to consult with a Facebook advertising expert before hitting the ever-tempting “boost” button. They can definitely help you target the right audience at a larger scale – but no one has better audience insights than you, so remember that working together is key.

8. Interact

Engagement organically boosts your posts and drives social media. Engagement measures shares, likes and comments for an online business’ social media efforts. Responding to and liking all messages and comments, answering questions and being present when you can boosts engagement and gets more eyes on your content, while you come across as genuine and prompt at answering questions.

9. Hire someone for day-of coverage

This is worth every penny. You’ll be able to entertain customers and take care of everything else that pops up and can rest assured your digital presence has 100% attention on sale day. Popular sale day social ideas can be Facebook live streams, Instagram stories updating sale progress, posts about high sellers and, of course, behind-the-scenes content.

10. Recap the event

Even if it’s just a photo, post a recap. Some other ideas include sharing the high seller or a high point from throughout the event. Don’t forget to thank your customers and all who helped make the event happen and generate excitement for the next event.

Like the world of social media, cattle marketing and sale practices are continuing to change and keeping up can impact your bottom line. When used correctly, social media can be a powerful ally – connecting you to current and future customers while cultivating familiarity and trust, ultimately leading to sales. Staying social savvy can seem like a pain at first, but hopefully these tips will help.

For more information and help, some good initial resources for learning are YouTube tutorials. Want to take it up a level? Social marketing companies such as Hootsuite and Sprout also have guides and tricks to help make your experience more efficient; you can even sign up for emails to have the latest and greatest delivered to your inbox. And don’t forget the best resource – other tech-savvy people who can help you get started.  end mark

Illustration by Corey Lewis.

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