Examining Farmers Markets' Usage of Social Media: An Investigation of a Farmers Market Facebook Page
AbstractSocial media are transforming communication between organizations and their audiences, and even changing the organizations themselves. Social media's low cost and low requirements for technical skills needed to both use and maintain an online presence allow small businesses with limited marketing budgets to use the same marketing strategies as bigger businesses with large marketing budgets. In addition, social media provides businesses direct and interactive ways to reach out and retain customers. This case study analyzes Cedar Park Farmers Market (CPFM)'s use of its Facebook page. Using Facebook Graph API Explorer, we extracted data regarding posts and fans of CPFM's Facebook page since the page was created. We then examined the data to explore the social networks, including farmers market organizers, vendors, and customers, within CPFM's Facebook page and how the market used its Facebook page, by looking at the Facebook page layout, composition of fans, post intensity, post ownership, media type, and degree of engagement. We found that (1) the market organizers, customers, vendors, and local communities were all engaged with the CPFM Facebook page; (2) the CPFM used Facebook as a marketing platform to publish timely information (e.g., available products or upcoming events) and to reach and retain customers and vendors; and (3) the CPFM's Facebook page functioned as a cyber–social hub to connect and engage the local community.
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