From teaser posts linked to blogs to feedback invitations, breaking news, random photos and more, the styles of social-media posts have settled into general forms that are subject to innumerable performance variables but generally work.
I’ve certainly written hundreds such posts for clients, and given their general effectiveness, I’ll likely write many more. Yet I also occasionally zig when others zag and create unexpected posts for better-than-average engagement.
A few examples:
The Power of Storytelling
As social media writer for the Rockwood Farmers’ Market in the summer of 2018, I wrote the market’s highest engaging Facebook post ever based on an actual event. As a message of community, the post connected and resonated with people to earn a 68% increase in shares, an 88% increase in likes and an 89% increase in comments for an overall increase in reach of 34.7%, proving once again the power of authentic storytelling in marketing.
Here’s what I wrote:
There was a moment—a brave and inspiring moment—that visibly captured the hearts of people at yesterday’s market, and reflected the essence of what vendors, volunteers, musicians, market-committee members, business-fest entrepreneurs, local sponsors and visitors have all brought to the Rockwood Farmers’ Market throughout the 2018 season.
As part of his market performance, musician Mark Adams introduced his daughter, Sara, to the stage to sing “Lost Boy.” She was somewhat nervous as she stood behind the microphone and glanced out across the crowd while perhaps wondering, “How is this all going to go?” Yet Sara looked ahead with hope, steadied by the knowing that she was not there to get something from people (although she walked away with the everlasting gratitude of her community). She was there to give something—to give the very best of herself from a pure place of joy and self-value. She was there to share what she loved doing and being, which is the greatest thing that anyone can give to any community (and themselves).
To say it another way, whether she knew it, Sara stood there to essentially say to everyone at the market, “I am a thread in the tapestry of community, and I may feel uncertain or even unseen at times. Yet I am here to add my color and strength to the great tapestry called life, because where the world can sometimes feel threadbare of connection, and where emotions can sometimes feel fleeting, community is ultimately the blanket by which I can always find the shelter, warmth and essential nourishment to live and walk in assurance, health and love.”
To me as an outside observer, Sara’s performance epitomized a distinguishing characteristic that has always been part of the Rockwood Farmers’ Market. Yes, the market is a weekly gathering of vendors offering people the very best of fresh seasonal produce, baked goods and other incredible products and services. And equally the market comprises a weekly collection of dedicated volunteers, committee members and others happily giving their time to help provide families, kids and even their pets with the best market experience possible. Yet on a higher level, everyone at the market offers the same message as Sara, whether by action, product or both.
Despite moments of uncertainty, vendors, volunteers, musicians and everyone else arrives to weave their own threads of community and say by sheer disposition, “This is who I am. This is what I love, and by what I do or sell, I ultimately offer the spirit behind it all. This is what I hope you carry home to enrich your own life and the lives of those around you.” Indeed, I believe it’s this rare and fragile quality of true community (however intangible and elusive at times) that helped earn the market some free press in 2018 from the New Tanner and the Wellington Advertiser (as well as support from local businesses) and earned the market the distinction of “the little market that could” from Guelph Today.
For all of this and more, I really don’t know if there are enough thanks for everyone who came out to the market yesterday—and all markets in 2018—to make it what it was and what the Rockwood Farmers’ Market can become. But I do know one thing for certain.
With only two more markets left in the 2018 season, I know that the community spirit I’ve just described will be there. I know that I have two more chances to experience it before the winds of October close over the market, and I know that what I take away will go far to warm me, nourish me and sustain me through the long winter months ahead.
Thanks, Sara, for your brave performance and for ultimately showing me that the one true song that builds community is the individual song we each sing, even if that song technically isn’t a song but just someone being true to themselves and walking that truth to illuminate the world.
The Power of Kittens!
Pictures of kittens, puppies and babies continue to command high engagement, as I recently re-discovered in a series of farmers’ market posts that were shared by the Wellington Advertiser newspaper and local business organizations.
People enjoy discovering new things, like the purple beans I discovered and wrote about in a nutrition-tips post that attracted both social engagement and actual new customers to the Rockwood Farmers’ Market.
Accentuate the Positive
During a season when rain was keeping people away from the Rockwood Farmers’ Market, I created a short humorous video to extol the virtues of rain.
The reason I’ve focused on social-media posts for the Rockwood Farmers’ Market in this section is because of the results I realized through creative freedom. In exchange for volunteering as social-media writer, the market committee gave me free license to create what I wished. Without the constraints of “best practices” typically placed on writers, I’m very proud of the results I was able to deliver.
“We have an amazing volunteer who has been doing social media for us this year, and he has brought a lot of fun and playfulness into that role.”—The Rockwood Farmers Market
“I am not sure who wrote this posting but hat's off to the author. So well done!!!”—Shari Lovell
“Awesome and inspiring.”—Emilia McCormack
“What a great article and well done to Sara!”—Nancy Ruth MacDonald
While humor on its own tends to engage, you can often hedge engagement by adding in a practical takeaway, like in this Thanksgiving humor post, which informs people that if they can’t resist the last piece of pie (or other treats) and don’t want to take responsibility, they can blame it on a totally made-up marauder.
You don’t know Petey, but he knows you—and your delicious Thanksgiving treats.
You’ll never see him. Yet Petey knows that every Thanksgiving, you and your loved ones will gather to celebrate warmth, laughter and the enduring bonds of family. And he thinks that’s all pretty great, but more importantly to Petey, he knows you’ll all gather to share delicious foods.
You see, Petey understands that there will be more food than everyone can eat in one evening. So there will be lots of leftovers sitting around after people go to bed, and that’s when he strikes—like a ninja.
So rest assured this year on the morning after Thanksgiving. When someone awakes to wonder what happened to the last piece of pie, you can confidently say that it was Petey the Pie Ninja and not you slipping downstairs in the middle of the night because you just couldn’t resist one more slice of deliciousness.
Petey’s got you covered. :)
Even the mundane can be an opportunity to improve engagement, as I did with a series of lost-and-found posts.
This Year’s Crop of Sunglasses Is In!
Said another way, if you think you lost a pair of shades at the Rockwood Farmers’ Market, head to the kids’ play tent at the market next Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. at Main and Alma to claim one of seven available pairs. From left to right (top row to bottom in the picture):
1. The Awesome Leopard Prints
2. The Green Lanterns
3. The My Little Kitties
4. The Men in Black (or for Schwarzenegger fans, the Terminators)
5. The Elton Johns
6. The Top Guns
7. The Vegas Elvises
Okay, I’m not sure if “Elvises” is actually a plural, but one thing’s for sure.
Given the style and nature of the sunglasses, the Rockwood Farmers’ Market evidently has the coolest visitors each week (but I guess we already knew that). :)
Our Lost-and-Found Department Is Growing!
Here are our three new additions from last week’s market:
• The Me Reader: We don’t exactly know what this is but Mickey Mouse is all over it, and by his expression, Mickey seems pretty happy to be on board (but sad because he misses the Me Reader’s owner).
• The Fantastic Flyer: Please note that this high-performance aircraft is a small toy and not a full-size plane. If it was, we’d likely consider asking to use it on behalf of our fantastic vendors for custom home delivery of farm-fresh produce at lightning speed!
• The Jar of Mystery: This appears to be some sort of peach drink. To know for sure, we’d have to open it, and we’re a bit nervous about that. So let’s just say it’s peach tea.
If one or all of the above items are yours, please claim them from the market food tent next Wednesday, August 22nd, from 4-7 p.m. during the Local Business Fest at the Rockwood Farmers’ Market.
Our Lost and Found Department Now Has Quadruplets!
Here are our four new additions from last week’s market:
• The Brunette Basket: Perfect for picking berries, this gorgeous basket is also perfect for budding Easter bunnies or Red Riding Hoods, although for the latter, we advise that you not make that trip through the woods to Grandma’s house. (Spoiler alert: It really doesn’t end well.)
• The Disconnected Kinex: Given the four wheels, this random assortment of Kinex pieces likely makes some sort of vehicle. Then again, considering that Kinex can pretty much make anything, the assortment could be two motorcycles after an accident or some sort of death ray. (Hey, we’re not judging.)
• The Roy Orbisons: With their lightly shaded lenses and cool black frames, these awesome sunglasses pretty much define kitsch.
• The Jamaica Baseball Cap: Anyway you slice it, this cap rocks!
You probably get the point by now. While certain standard forms of social posts will always be effective, I’ve also discovered through testing and results that creativity, humor and doing the unexpected can yield tremendous social engagement.
To see the complete range of posts I created for the Rockwood Farmers' Market, click here to visit the market on Facebook.
Working for the Rockwood Farmers’ Market also afforded me the great pleasure of creating a wide range of digital art for social posts. Though I’m familiar with Illustrator and similar programs to create graphic elements, I prefer working in Photoshop to create composite images using real photographic elements from photos I’ve taken, and tend to just use Illustrator for titles and text.
A few things that I created:
Does my image style suit the purposes of mainstream business posts? No. Yet as I do not aspire to be a designer in a mainstream business setting, creating images according to personal preference is an enjoyable break from copywriting for more conservative business images for social. A few examples: