Social Media for Rural Business – The Times are changing

When I started my consultancy over 4 years ago, I won’t lie and say it was easy, in fact, I’ll tell you the straight out truth, it was hard. Being in Regional Australia made it harder, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think. Issues such as access to events, training, organization, time, skills, finances, well they were all tough, but no, all of that was a walk in the park compared to the main issue I faced.

The most difficult part of starting my business was finding businesses who were visionaries. Finding businesses who understood the opportunities that were sprouting before our eyes. Finding businesses who believed enough in the online environment and social media, and the reality that this new “fad” was going to change the way they did business forever. In a great way! Businesses who believed that social media for rural business was a game changer, just as I did.

Four years ago, in rural and regional Australia, and unfortunately, I must say, even today, there has been a super slow uptake of internet technologies that can assist businesses grow.

Rural Business is Beginning to Embrace Social Media

A lot of changes have occurred in the last 4 years. Changes to the way consumers think, feel and react to marketing. Change to purchasing behaviors, resistance against major corporations and a thirst and hunger for knowledge, information and shared stories between consumers, businesses and industry.

In short, consumers want to be informed, educated and to be part of the conversation. Consumers no longer want to be drip fed information at the mercy of marketing departments of multinationals.

It’s these very changes that have seen a huge increase in the rise of rural and regional business opportunities, an increase in the exposure for small business, and even a booming growth in markets such as handmade goods.

For those businesses who were early adopters, this means they’ve been on the receiving end of a welcome army of consumers wanting to hear their stories. For those who are just initiating social media or online marketing, they can learn from the failures and successes of those that dared tread first, and can make everything they can of the opportunities of more established social networks. There’s still also plenty of opportunity to an early adopter in the newest social media opportunities presenting themselves continually.

Rural Business Must be Online, But First Impressions Count!

There’s so much talk about the need to be online, the need to be on social media, creating Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube videos and blogs, along with a slather of other “necessities” that it’s important to remember rushing in can cause problems. The internet doesn’t forget. Barging in without understanding possible outcomes can cause more harm than good for your business. EVERY business needs to be online, it’s just a matter of understanding the BEST way to be online, not just being online for the sake of it, or even worse, to the detriment of all your hard work.

Any business launching into social media and online marketing MUST understand some simple rules:

1. What are you trying to achieve online?

2. Who are you trying to communicate with online?

3. Where is your target market “hanging out” online?

4. What online strategies will get you in front of them?

5. How will you measure your achievements online?

The most IMPORTANT THING: Do NOT start accounts online just because everyone says to. You need to know where you’re going first, and then take it one step at a time to get there.

Without a doubt some of the biggest growth opportunities presenting themselves in rural and regional Australia today are well aligned with the advantages of the online environment offers.

It’s an exciting time, and a time that keeps me pushing forward to help regional business to make the most of the amazing opportunities that are in front of them right now. Each time a client learns how to improve their online presence, connect with their customers or achieve goals they’d never thought possible, I get to be there to enjoy that with them, that makes me proud to do what I do, and even more proud to be taking rural and regional businesses to the rest of the country, and the world!