Two white hands plunge into browny-black soil - a shot of the hands (palm towards camera) of Sebastian Parsons, co-owner of Rush Farm, on a sunny August evening

On 28 February 2013, I held a social media workshop for the Soil Association.

Hence image of soil at Soil Association-certified Rush Farm.

Here are notes from my slides.

What is social media?

Web technology makes posting online easy for non-tecchies (such as I).

Spreading message via people you trust – friends, family, colleagues: it is social.

Social media allows us to be our own publishers: we are the media.


Web technology amplifies effects of word-of-mouth.

One click – a post is shared. Another click – re-shared.

Messages go viral, spreading far-and-wide.

New media changes relationships

Communications are no longer one-way.

They are based on relationships, circles of trust, word of mouth.

Recommendation is king.

The social media generation care about what their friends  think – not your advert.

Join the conversation.

New skills

  • Connect – be curious
  • Listen and engage
  • Take part
  • Influence – not control.

Social media is having conversations online.

Dialogue is:

  • Authentic (respectful personality shines through)
  • Inclusive (jargon-free)
  • Consumer-focused (not an advertisement).


Know thyself

Each time you post, you show:

  • What you believe in
  • What you think is important
  • Your expert knowledge.

Social media gives you the opportunity to:

  • Link to people you need to connect to
  • Have a two way conversations
  • Conduct real-time market research.
  • Define and refine your brand.


#Horsemeat scandal

Whilst traditional media prefers ‘new’ news, social media saw the horsemeat scandal story run and run (pun intended).

#Horsemeat trended – one of the most-talked-about stories on Twitter.
– which the traditional press picked up on.

Radio Times reported the best Tesco, Findus and  Ikea horsemeat jokes on Twitter.

Daily Mail reported “Fury at Tesco’s ill-judged Twitter joke in wake of horse meat scandal”.

(I feel a bit sorry for the hapless social media person who scheduled the “ill-judged” tweet).

Social media holds poor performance to account.

Social media continues to keep the #horsemeat scandal live and kicking (pun intended).

Organic – the opposite to horsemeat

Consumer research shows the more people know the truth about food production
– the more they choose organic.

Real stories suit social media

Big Food spends billions marketing illusions. Organic food has no need to spend budgets on pretence.

It has authenticity, naturally.

The web is based on transparency and so is organic food.

You know exactly how your food is produced and where it is from.

Tell your real story on social media. Nothing beats the real thing.

Social media democratises communications

Equal to the printing press, social media has changed the way we communicate.

No longer is the editor, the gatekeeper, guarding what is news.

We decide what is news.

Organic news outlets

Specify your news interests to Google News so it aggregates for instance ‘organic’ news stories for you.

Sign up to Soil Association daily media digest.

Follow NYR News and subscribe to GM Education.

Google news alert

Publish your own news and link to news you think is important.

Subscribe to Google news alert 

to be alerted of posts publishing your company name and other key words.

Writing skills

What makes a post engaging is a matter of opinion.

What’s not a matter of opinion?

Correct spelling and reasonable grammar.

(Succint thought thanks to WordPress Traffic Dos and Don’ts).

Writing tips

    • Use a spellcheck
    • Edit for clarity
    • Re-writing is a sign of strength not weakness
    • Re-read, re-write, re-read, re-write
    • Cut unnecessary words (the, that) – be concise
    • Look at order – smooth? Read aloud
    • Avoid jargon, and industry “in” words.

As Fran Price says: “Would your grandmother understand?”.

What are #hash-tags?

Put key word and # in the Search box in Twitter (and now Facebook)

to find the Tweets using the same #.

Create your own for conferences for instance

Further reading: What is a hashtag? (Mashable).

Right and wrong ways to Hashtag on Twitter (Medium).


Twitter basics


    • Click “Retweet” (‘neath Tweet) and someone’s else’s Tweet is reposted to your followers
    • If you change rewording of your Tweet, start with MT (Modified Tweet)
    • Tweets to @ Twitter name are public
    • Start Tweet with @ Twitter name to be seen by yours and theirs followers only
    • If you want a Tweet to be seen by more than yours and their followers, add at least one character before @ Twitter name
    • Direct messages (top menu third from left ) are private, and can only be sent to people who Follow you.


Twitter biography

Take your  160 characters bio seriously – it is searchable.

Use your full name and key words (key words are those used to search for what you have offer: organic, meat, farm visits).

Link to your website. Include telephone number or link to easy way to contact you.

Include call to action such as a link to sign up to email list or vote etc
Further reading: How to write a rock star Twitter bio (Mashable).


Images on Twitter

Latest: No need to click a link to see an attached image

– the Tweet itself expands. Tweets with “expanded images” increase traction.

As far as I know, only works with images first downloaded, then uploaded directly to Twitter,using URL.

Further reading: Make the most of images on Twitter (Buffer).


Build your audience on Twitter

Why? Build target audience for your messages. How?

Find your allies.

Express an opinion that will appeal to potential followers.

Follow others – smaller ones will follow back

Follow other people’s list of Followers.

Follow back your (loosely relevant) Followers.


Tweet – 140 characters only

Choice is shorter than Favourite.

Find shorter synonyms (different names for same word) at this thesaurus

Delete unnecessary words such as “that” and “the”

Retweet =  RT

And – use + or &

Numbers for words, for instance one 1

Contractions: cannot = can’t

Strike a balance – do not talk in text-speak. Be friendly and professional: Avoid “u” instead of “you”

Tidy text with automatic link shorteners is shorter than other shorteners including Tinyurl.

    • Shortens (shorter than tiny.url)
    • Groups under same bitly link
    • Search with key words
    • Soil Association also uses Bitly
    • Bitly measures: for instance, 73 clicked on Soil Association’s Bitly link (organic farming saves birds, bees, wildflowers).

      14 clicked on my Bitly link of the same report.

      Sign up to with an email address.

Measuring and managing social media

What IS a marketing strategy? Great article (added by me, 9 June 2014).


ROI – Return on Investment

Like PR, social media hard to measure in direct sales (and would take an extra expense to do so).

Social media is part of today’s PR budget. Investment of time will achieve increased:

    • Audience
    • Findability
    • Contactibility
    • Brand recognition
    • Trust
    • Expression of key messages.



Signing up to a social media account is free.

Investment is time. To make good posts, you need time and concentration to be:

  • Accurate
  • Relevant
  • Accessible
  • Engaging.
  • Ten minutes a week-day is absolute minimum for each social media account.
    Allow extra time per month to check reviews on Trip Advisor, Yelp and Google Reviews.


Why Facebook?


Facebook Page

Set up a Facebook Page by setting up Profile first

Facebook page is:

    • Mini website
    • Easily found via Google
    • Easily updated
    • Versatile: Add apps (Notes, Events, Photos).


Minimum Facebook activity


    • Link to allies – find their Facebook page. Like it.
    • Use @ to connect to them in a post
    • Go to ‘Home” and Like the posts you like of your allies such as Organic UK 
    • Share posts you like on your Page
    • Comment – it gets you extra attention!



Post links to videos on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow your allies such as the Soil Association and Sustainable Food Trust. 

Think about setting up your own channel.

Make 1-min spontaneous videos with a smart phone.

Watch Yeo Valley’s phenomenal rap.


Love it – see mine.
Image-led and easy to share images; 70% female; Food is top category; 57% discussing food

– see social media Infographic 2013.

Google +

Local shops/farms should register – it helps Google search because it ties in with Google Maps.

Google Hangouts

One-on-one, and group video chats (up to ten people).
Similar to Skype, Google hangouts uses technology to switch the focus to the person currently chatting, explains Mashable.


Stay in touch with business contacts

Minimum activity:

  • Update biography and upload your/company image
  • Accept invitations
  • Endorse other people’s skills
  • Join relevant groups (and at least Like comments you like)
  • Follow company pages.
  • Beyond bare minimum:Create group and publish your news from your website to your followers.


Logins and passwords

    • Keep safely
    • Make sure logins do not leave when employee who set up account leaves
    • Use company email address
    • Change annually for cyber safety
    • Change to remedy spam.


Research big brands

Whether you like them or not, study the ones with clear communications and good ideas – and the cash to implement them.

Innocent’s Chain of Good or Starbucks – idea from its customers.


You are in control. If time is precious, choose ONE social media account (ie Twitter)

– and do it well.

Remember, you are in public.

Be respectful.

My boutique business, Winkler Media, helps manage people’s PR and social media needs.

Dear workshop participants

Do leave a reply in the comment box below, and a link to your website!