During his latest interview, NEUROPUBLIC's President mentioned that 2018 will be the year of gaiasense; gaiasense being the smart farming system that NEUROPUBLIC develops along with GAIA EPICHEIREIN. This means that apart from the actual work (referring to the expansion of the gaiasense network in terms of land coverage and support for new crops) we also need to spread the word about gaiasense and make its target audience familiar with it.
The first step was accomplished; it was the development of the gaiasense website. This is the point of reference for the system, where all available information (at least the public parts) is included. It is important that the website is bilingual (Greek and English), so that it can be used as a reference when contacting our foreign partners and collaborators, too.
The next step is to help potential users and collaborators (mostly farmers, agricultural advisors and researchers) find this point of reference. And this is where social media come in the picture.
So far, we used mostly NEUROPUBLIC's social media (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn page) for sharing news about gaiasense. But now is the time for gaiasense to have its own, customized voice through dedicated social media channels. We decided to go with the same channels that NEUROPUBLIC also uses:
- Facebook: We created a Facebook product page for gaiasense. Thanks to the flexibility of Facebook, I believe that this will be the most attractive channel. In fact, the page managed to attract more than 100 followers in just three days - an impressive number, taking into consideration the fact that the audience of gaiasense is pretty limited. A promoted post surely helped towards this direction,
- Twitter: We setup a Twitter account for gaiasense so that we can reach a different audience. This channel will be mostly used for promoting content already published elsewhere and reaching out to related stakeholders. We started following related accounts (e.g. agricultural cooperatives, agricultural advisors, agricultural media etc.).
- LinkedIn: We created a showcase page for gaiasense, as one of NEUROPUBLIC's products. Taking into consideration that LinkedIn is mostly used in English (and is pretty limited in terms of flexibility), this is expected to be the most challenging channel.
Making the most out of social media is not easy, when it comes to Greek products aimed at Greek users (at least for the time being). The main challenges that we face are the following:
- Language: Channels like Twitter and (mostly) Lhttps://twitter.com/gaiasensegrinkedIn are not easy to use in a language other than English. For Twitter, using hashtags in Greek does not seem to be successful. LinkedIn does not play well with Greek, neither. I have tried using #ΕυφυήςΓεωργία, the Greek term for #SmartFarming, and I was surprised to see that we were probably the first ones to use it! As for the content language, we started posting in Greek (our target audience are Greek and some of them are not fluent in English) but I believe that they would benefit from some content in English, as well. It is about balancing between the targeting audience and raising awareness about the product in general.
- Low use of social media: Farmers do not tend to use social media; they may have (personal) Facebook profiles but using Twitter or LinkedIn? Hm...no. The same goes more or less for agricultural cooperatives, while researchers and agricultural advisors are usually more active on social media (depending mostly on their age). If they do not use social media, then we cannot reach them...
- Account names: This does not have to do with the language, but is was yet another issue. The account names @gaiasense were already taken both on Facebook and Twitter. In both cases, we considered a couple of alternatives, and the winner was @gaiasenseGR. I have numerous examples of cases where various organizations (and their products) had their account names taken but still they managed to successfully overcome this. So why couldn't we do he same?
All in all, this is a work in progress. The social media channels of gaiasense will be our tools for reaching out to more potential customers and collaborators and we will put effort in addressing the aforementioned challenges. I am sure that the results will be positive, to the extend possible of course.