Blogger's pumpkin photos illustrate a farm transformed by social media
PUBLISHED: 11:55 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:34 31 October 2019
Chris Harvey Visuals / @gingernatalie_x
A Norfolk farm's picturesque pumpkin patch has attracted online bloggers and influencers in the run-up to Halloween - helping to promote an evolving business which has been transformed by the power of social media.
White House Farm started life as a fruit farm on the outskirts of Norwich, but as the "pick-your-own" profits dwindled the business has been reinvented as a community hub with a farm shop, an in-house butchery and cafe, and converted barns hosting a hairdresser, beautician, dance studio, IT firm and a nursery with 70 children.
Charlotte Gurney, who runs the business with her husband Oliver, said this "intrepid" departure from the farm's traditional roots would not have been possible without online marketing and social media.
"It seems the hand-held device in our pockets carries more marketing power than we could ever appreciate," she said. "I often ask customers how they heard about us and the answer is almost always: 'We saw something online'. So complex are the algorithms at work, so rich in platforms, retweets and multiplying posts, that we are flooded with information, that a brand or destination is embedded in our busy minds even if we can't say how it got there.
"Launching and running your own business, especially an energy-zapping, customer-facing one means the social media posts need to keep coming, the inspiration kept rolling. At times you can see why companies are quick to outsource their social media work but it can be costly and often no-one is closer connected to the mission than the founders themselves.
"If it wasn't for the dreaded phone in our pockets farming wouldn't be able to evolve at the pace it has at White House Farm.
"Farming and all we are doing is lucky to have such colour, variety and energy at its fingertips.
"Selling double-glazed windows wouldn't be quite so exciting. In my mind there is always a story; whether its a cow to cup related post (we sell our local dairy's milk in every cup of coffee) , or an extra long sausage in our butchery, or whether we've spotted the first pumpkin in the field ahead of Hallowe'en, we are brimming with ideas that have led us to thousands of social media followers."
That following led to an "overwhelming" 10,000 visitors attending the farm's Christmas Market last year - an event almost entirely advertised on social media. It also helped the farm sell 4,000 Hallowe'en pumpkins this autumn with the unexpected assistance of social media influencers including Norwich-based fashion and beauty blogger Ginger Natalie, who posted photos from the farm on Instagram.
"We have had people with hundreds of thousands of followers getting in touch to see of they can be photographed in our pumpkin patch," said Mrs Gurney. "They are tagging us in their posts and it is generating so much activity on social media. For someone like me, it is unbelievable.
"We have built this business entirely on social media and it shows what can be done on a very simple level without any training if you really know your brand."