Agriculture publication tweaks, succeeds with farmer’s podcast

By Michelle Palmer Jones

Nashville, Tennessee, United States


Known historically as an agriculture publication in South Africa, Food for Mzansi is breaking records and blowing minds with its newest venture — the podcast series Farmer’s Inside Track. Its goal was to showcase emerging South African farmers who typically never saw themselves portrayed in the media.

In South Africa, mostly white farmers — who produce on a commercial scale — are highlighted in mainstream media. Food for Mzansi was already introducing diversity into the agriculture space and said once emerging farmers began seeing themselves portrayed in this publication, they started reaching out in droves.

Food for Mzansi launched the weekly podcast to connect with emerging farmers who were asking for not just news stories but technical farming advice. With the podcast at its core, Food for Mzansi was able to branch out into other platforms with a newsletter, WhatsApp info line, video series, and articles.

Farmer's Inside Track is aimed at up-and-coming farmers in South Africa, but its reach has gone much farther than expected.
Farmer's Inside Track is aimed at up-and-coming farmers in South Africa, but its reach has gone much farther than expected.

The creators of Food for Mzansi knew they was speaking directly to its audience with this new approach and, on top of that, it was differentiating itself from its competitors who are struggling with an aging audience. Audio quality was of major importance, too. Everything needed to be broadcast quality.

Food for Mzansi needed a way to boost business with Farmer’s Inside Track. Knowing that its competition was getting 99% of the advertising spend solely based on their long track records — and despite the fact that their audiences were not growing — Food for Mzansi created specific advertising opportunities and built brand loyalty with its audience and increased retention.

Podcasts aren’t as widely listened to in South Africa as in other countries, so when Farmer’s Inside Track had 20 regular listeners in its first two months, Food for Mzansi was thrilled. But what happened after that was even more mind-blowing: The podcast started trending.

Over the last 14 months, the podcast has attracted more than 5,100 unique listeners and Farmer’s Inside Track is the most downloaded famer’s podcast in all of South Africa. The podcast also frequently shows up in the top 20 podcasts under the entrepreneurship category. 

The podcast has become part of the morning routine for many farmers.
The podcast has become part of the morning routine for many farmers.

Smartly, Food for Mzansi also started evolving thanks to feedback from its loyal listeners. Farmers said they listened to the podcast as part of their morning routines. Since farmers get up early, Food for Mzansi moved the publishing of new episodes from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. so farmers could listen as they made early milk runs or while they were feeding cattle.

The creators of Food for Mzansi also noticed half of their audience listened to the podcast on Android devices, so that led to reworking its newsletters, WhatsApp infoline, and video content to include Android-friendly audio links. 

Today, 84.5% of Farmer’s Inside Track listeners are from South Africa, 5% are from the United States and 1.2% live in the UK. Food for Mzansi is also encouraged by the 9.3% of listeners it has in other sub-Saharan countries, which shows potential for it to grow into a globally recognised podcast for farmers. 

Food for Mzansi sold its podcast and newsletter content as a package deal. Data shows that for every U.S. dollar it spends on the podcast and newsletter, it generates US$23 in revenue. The podcast also boosted subscriptions from 200 to 8,500 in that same 14-month period, a growth of 4.150%.

About Michelle Palmer Jones

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