As we come up to the two-year anniversary of Buy From The Bush, founder Grace Brennan tells Kochie’s Business Builders how she turned a social media movement into a marketplace for rural businesses.
On October 19, 2019, Grace Brennan had a lightbulb moment while sitting at the kitchen table of the farm where she lives with her husband and four children, in Warren, NSW.
She created an Instagram account called Buy From The Bush to showcase beautiful products from rural businesses to city consumers.
Seven weeks later, @buyfromthebush had snowballed into a social media phenomenon with 130,000 Instagram followers. In its first four months, Buy From the Bush had generated $5 million of revenue for businesses featured on that page.
“It has been enormously rewarding to be able to facilitate this connection between talented rural small business owners and consumers looking to shop with purpose or support rural communities facing very challenging conditions,” Grace tells us. “The challenge will be ensuring we can keep our audience engaged to ensure long-term outcomes for rural Australia.”
With 96 per cent of Buy From The Bush businesses owned by women, Grace has created a significant revenue stream for these rural and remote communities recovering from the effects of drought, bushfires and COVID-19.
And it all started with social media.
You can find out how she built the brand
Grace will share what she’s learned about social success as part of the free online Small Business Bootcamp presented by PayPal: Social Media Strategy for Small Business.
Hosted by podcaster, author and Matcha Maiden founder Sarah Davidson, the Small Business Bootcamp is an unmissable one-hour live-streamed webinar held on September 23 from 1pm (AEST). You’ll get the chance to ask Sarah, Grace and other leading entrepreneurs and experts (get the full line-up here) all your burning questions about building a brand on social. Register to confirm your spot now.
To give us a taste of what she’ll be talking about at the webinar, Grace has generously shared a few of her top tips for building a social strategy that works:
Tip #1: How to build a compelling social channel
“Firstly, create an account that clearly articulates who you are and what you are selling. This includes a succinct bio, a link to a website or store, contact details and a call to action. Start creating your content! Start developing your voice. Testing what comes naturally and what your audience connects with.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s about progress, not perfection. Testing content and developing insights and instincts for what works well. In the background, I would start to try to teach myself how to frame a good photo, what lighting works best and simple hacks on photo editing. (If you don’t have the skills and can afford to pay someone for professional photography, it’s worth it!).
“You need to make sure your unique value proposition is super clear through your socials. What can you offer your audience that others don’t?”
Tip #2: How to choose what social channels to invest in
“Instagram was my first channel. It made the most sense because many micro business owners had Instagram pages and the potential to sell directly to customers via DM (direct message).
“It was also the most visual and allowed me to curate a feed that reflected the ‘bush brand’ that I wanted to introduce people to. Importantly, it invited a simple action ‘see it, like it, buy it!’.
“Ultimately, it was a visual storytelling mechanism that also allowed a direct line between the business and the consumer. The potential to build community through a hashtag on Instagram meant that we had an instant acquisition funnel.
“Makers, creators, retailers and artists just needed to use #buyfromthebush and we could find their products. And so could consumers! There was a nice balance between building community, changing mindsets, generating revenue and achieving impact.
“Another really important aspect of Instagram was the ability to use the stories function as social proof or evidence of impact. We would share content from businesses inundated with orders or travelling miles to the post office with parcels on the back of their utes. It was instant gratification for anyone supporting our cause. It’s easy to create brand rituals through the use of Instagram stories.
“Facebook went hand in hand with the Instagram channel. A couple of things I’ve learnt though is that the curated nature of Buy From The Bush only really works in a Facebook page, not a Facebook Group, but Groups achieve incredible organic traction. Though I focus most of my energy on Instagram, Facebook achieves high conversion.
“Lastly, TikTok scares me, LinkedIn daunts me, Twitter blows my mind … and not in a good way!”
Tip #3: The power and art of authentic storytelling
“Quality storytelling allows little fish to compete in massive ponds! Customers are flooded with advertising on all channels these days. Slick, shiny, manufactured advertising.
“When you create authentic content on socials and reveal the story behind your product or service or even yourself, it can be a very powerful circuit breaker. Suddenly they are curious or moved by something. Or shocked. Or interested.
“It’s a way of cultivating a community of customers who are loyal and invested in your brand. A brand is ultimately your customer’s perception of whatever you’re selling. It lives in the minds of your customers – not in a swanky brand strategy doc!
“So quality storytelling on socials shapes the narrative of your brand and asks the customer to engage with it (through likes, shares, follows, comments). As a result, it’s a super agile way of testing and iterating your product, your message and your brand. Traction drives growth.”
Tip #4: How to drive sales through social
“Remember, sales are about conversion. It’s not about beautiful, pretty, seamless socials. Sometimes conversion is a bit uglier. It’s a bit clunkier.”
That’s a good cliffhanger to leave us on, Grace!
To ask Grace more questions, register for the Small Business Bootcamp presented by PayPal: Social Media Strategy For Small Business now. It’s a free online event on Thursday, September 23 2021 at 1pm (AEST). Yes, completely free.
For more resources to help with running an online business, visit PayPal’s Business Resource Centre.
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