Don’t let an Internet post become a fool’s errand. That’s the advice western Iowa farmer Kyle Bumsted shares when he talks about buying and selling used equipment parts via social media.
He once drove four hours into Minnesota to look at a disk on a dealer’s lot, only to be told the equipment he’d seen online wasn’t for sale. The dealer refused to reimburse him for fuel.
"Now I definitely get serial numbers and try to track down as much information as I can," Bumsted says.
Broader reach. Networking through social media helped Crane Grain Farms of southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois at harvest.
"I’ve built relationships with people that I would normally not have had," explains farmer Mike Daniels. "We were tipped off about a grain cart through Facebook."
That grain cart had been posted for sale eight months earlier. By doing their research and waiting for the right time, the farm shaved 27% off of the original price tag of the grain cart.
"If we’re looking at a piece of equipment or something outside our area, from one connection to another, there’s usually someone fairly close who can look at it for us," Daniels adds.
Dealers and farmers alike should be courteous and honest when listing used equipment on classified boards, Facebook or Twitter.
"We’ve built a reputation of not spamming people," says Alec Winmill, Titan Outlet Store marketing director. The store—Titan Machinery’s answer to moving older ag equipment—has a Facebook audience of more than 158,000 people. A focus on social media makes good business sense, as 80% of its sales are to customers who don’t make on-site visits.
Winmill leads the effort by sharing photos and videos, responding to fan comments and excluding promotional links until a rapport is established.
Consider the platform. For Bumsted, Facebook is primarily a channel for family and friends, while Twitter presents opportunities to reach a diverse business audience. He’s successfully sold a narrow front end from a John Deere 4020, weights and tires.
Daniels uses Facebook in part because he can securely send a private message.
Farmers selling on social media should think about what they want to see when buying, adds Don Aberle, division manager for the Titan Outlet store. Close-up photos must include the three-point hitch, PTO, engine and tires. Videos should show the machine operating from multiple angles.
The bottom line. The key to social media success is customizing solutions.
"You don’t have to be everywhere all the time," Winmill explains.
It’s hard to go wrong with free tools. "Give them as much information as possible," Bumsted adds.
You can e-mail Nate Birt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for Using Social Media
To direct attention to used equipment for sale online, consider the following suggestions:
- Choose platforms that fit your operation. Facebook and Twitter are popular options, and services such as Pinterest and Instagram might also fit. Just don’t spread yourself too thin.
- Use photos and videos to tell the story. Show other farmers what you’d want to see if you were in the market for that
- machine or part. Get plenty of angles, and use video to show equipment while it is operating, when possible.
- Build relationships first, and think business second. It’s quite a challenge to share news about equipment for sale if you aren’t connected to anyone.
- Don’t be scared. Mistakes happen, but posts are quickly buried by new content in social media news feeds. Post with good intentions, and provide plenty of helpful details.
- Mid-February 2014