By @SimonCocking

Ronan Byrne the friendly farmer, @friendlyfarmer  is a great tag, what made you become the friendly farmer?

I spent years trying to come up with a brand that summed up what we do on the farm, like all things it was obvious when I stumbled on it.  Everything we do on the farm is friendly, to the environment, the animals and our customers. So the friendly farmer just fits.

Your background?

Farming and marketing are my background, I’m born into a farm and have been surrounded by it since I could walk and I have worked in marketing since I left college at the start of the millennium!

You were in Poland, you came back, why?

I came back to start my own business and make full use of the resource that our small family farm was.

Did you bring back any ideas for farming from your time there?

Yes, scale is not everything, you do not have to be big and commodity driven to make a living.  Scale is ok and works, but if you haven’t the capacity to scale you need to think very differently.

You mentioned many farmers in UK are diversifying, what things do you think might work in Ireland?

Ireland and the UK are very similar, with one difference the size of farms are larger in the UK so what ever enterprise that a farmer diversifies into, that must be kept in mind.

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You’re an active user of social media to what your farm is up to. How do you balance which ones you use?

Social media eats time, it gobbles it up like nothing else before.  You must be disciplined, I limit my time on it.  It’s an extremely useful tool to give your customers a verification of what you or your business is about.  A lot of people confuse it as a method of selling.

However we do use or blog as a method of taking orders, through Google forms, a magic method of allowing our customers place there orders on line with use.

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Do you use google trends, adwords, facebook ads? Pro’s /cons? Are they a quick hit, and then the impact falls off?

I have experimented with all, but have yet to find them over effective, we were luck when we started out, social media was not monetised and we got the full benefit of it for free.

You have had some great media coverage? Does it bring a spike in demand and then fall off, versus your more regular day to day stuff?

Thankfully it doesn’t lead to spikes, we are very lucky as it leads to constant steady growth.

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Do you have an overall strategy for your online presence?

No strategy, just to maintain our presence and use it as a tool to communicate what we do.

What inspired you to go into farming?

For me there was never going to be any other option, we are very lucky to be able to make a living doing what we love to do.

Any favourite farming books, like John Seymour Self sufficiency book, permaculture, biodynamic or anything else?

No favourites, I look at everything and then pick and chose the best model to fit what we want to achieve.

How is the broadband where you are?

Okish, we get it from a mountain based responder, it does us, we wouldn’t be spending to much time on netflix!

Is it a constraint on your business?

No

Favourite tech gadgets to help you in your business?

Favourite and most hated all in one, the smart phone, it will eat up your life if you’re not careful.

UCD Innovation Academy a two way street? You’re enjoying it, plus getting any ideas out of it too?

Yes and yes, a two way street.

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