What Famers Can Teach Us About Social Media

by Scott Gould October 12th, 2010 

farmstable The last time we spoke, we talked on the subject of "Where Search Begins Is Where Social Ends", discussing how it is actually recommendations that drive search in the first place. This isn't anything new – word of mouth has always been the holy grail and still continues to be a marketers primary goal.

We also discussed how Seth Godin popularised the idea of Permission Marketing as a kick back against the regular interruption tactics of marketers in the broadcast boom.

Of course, with all this talk of going from "push to pull" and "interruption to permission" and "search to social", there is one little problem: it all starts with an initial push and an initial interruption. How can someone give you permission to talk to them if they haven't already met you? How can someone search and find you if they don't already know something about what their problem is? How can you pull someone to you without them first coming into your remit?

Learning From Famers

If you remember from your early school lessons, the way a farmer gets the harvest every year is because they scatter seed in a field. When it comes to harvest, they know that some of the seed won't make it to the harvest, and often they don't even know which will and which won't. Or consider the seed from fruit that falls to the ground. Out of all those seeds, only some will take root, and even though the seed is small to begin, it becomes a large tree that creates it's own seed in the future.

The lesson that we learn from this – and we can all attest to this in our lives – is that we are continually sowing the seed of our message and we can't predict which ones will prosper and which won't. But as long as we are 'scattering our seed', then we can be sure that some of it will grow and come back to us at some point – something we all have experienced.

How To Scatter

In speaking last time we said that scattering is largely about accessibility. Chris Brogan says that our blog is our home with our social media profiles as outposts for listening and then sharing our message. That's about accessibility. Certainly when it comes to scattering your message, you've got to get it out to where people are.

I often illustrate this by calling it Watercooler Strategy: find our where your audience congregates, and then be there. However this ins't just about pumping out tweets or Facebook status updates. Far from it. This is also the watercooler of conversational topics. What topics do people talk about? You then have to actively scatter your message and make your message accessible by engaging in conversation, presenting mixed media, providing different angles and takes, as well as take on feedback and allow that your shape you message.

What will work? I don't know. The same way a farmer can't be sure which exact feed will return a harvest and which won't. I don't know which tweet will make the difference and which won't, but I do know that you'll need to keep making your message accesible at the watercooler for anything to happen at all.

What's Next?

I know for sure that famers don't just leave the harvest in the field. Taking what seed has prospered and reaping the harvest is another discipline – not scattering: gathering – but we'll look at that next time.

Scott Gould

Scott is co-founder of Like Minds, a community that gathers around it's international events and co-working clubs. He is also a church pastor, married to a hottie, and blogs daily.

http://scottgould.me

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One Response to “What Famers Can Teach Us About Social Media”

  1. [...] wrote a guest post over at Search Engine People last week on "What Farmers Can Teach Us About Social Media." It's looking at what we can learn from how a farmer scatters seed and how we should [...]