By Neil Wilson, executive director of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS)

I was recently asked a question, while recording a QMS podcast, that got me thinking – 'is there a place for farmers to use social media to advertise stock ahead of a sale?'

Most people will assume the listener meant for private sales. But advertising your stock before an auction mart sale has huge benefits and is something I’d encourage every farmer to do.

Covid restrictions are still limiting the number of buyers marts can allow around the ring, which makes it all the more important that those people are the right buyers.

There is, unfortunately, no place right now for farmers to just come along for a wander and a look around. Those who come must be serious buyers with serious intent to purchase so that competition is maintained around the ring to achieve the best possible price.

Sellers therefore have a huge interest in attracting as many serious buyers as possible. Social media – which is free, easy to use, and can help spread your message widely – offers a great opportunity to do this.

Good examples of posts I’ve seen include the use of attractive pictures or short video to help show animals’ health and conformation.

Information needn’t be long or detailed, but just enough to peak interest. This might include breed, fertility, growth rate, and anything special such as whether the stock comes from a closed herd.

Posts should of course, spur buyers to action with the date, time, location of the sale, and the name of the relevant auctioneer – who can then take over the information sharing if the buyer rings them to find out more.

Part of being an auctioneer is of course ensuring the right buyers are round the ring, but there’s no harm in farmers adding to this with a proactive approach.

And it needn’t take much of your time – the likelihood is you’ll be out checking your stock and have your phone with you anyway. Why not pull it out, take a few good pictures, a 20 second video, and upload it to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram?

You can also ask your mart to share your post with their followers, and even give them your videos, pictures and blurb for them to post themselves for extra measure?

You’ve got nothing to lose, but everything to gain from using what’s at your fingertips and attracting extra buyers to the ringside and increasing competition for your livestock.