When you visit Nofence’s website, it’s immediately clear that the Norwegian grazing technology innovators take great pride in their customer stories. The landing page prominently displays customer stories in video format, produced by Nofence, as well as an embedded social wall with posts by Nofence customers.
The wall doesn’t just delight with adorable animal pics but tells the stories of how Nofence helps farmers improve their grazing practises.
Okay, now that we’ve looked at the cute cows and goats, let’s back up a second to talk about why this showcase is all about grazing animals.
What is virtual fencing
If you’ve ever put up a fence, you probably know that it’s surprisingly expensive and requires a lot of labour. Now, if you’re a farmer, you are doing this kind of work all the time and repeatedly — putting up new fences, moving fences, fixing broken fences, and often in areas that aren’t very accessible either.
Nofence is a virtual fence product that allows farmers to ditch physical fences and instead use an app combined with collars for their livestock. The app lets them set up a virtual fence, and the collars gently communicate these borders to their livestock by giving them an audio impulse. If they cross the invisible fence border, they get a small electrical pulse similar to an electric fence. It’s a cruelty-free system approved for cattle, sheep and goats. The solar-powered collars communicate with an app and web portal via a mobile network, but the fencing function only relies on GPS.
Virtual fences are easy to move, adapt, adjust and can also be set up in inaccessible areas, such as steep mountainsides, etc. But they’re also something that’s still very new, and despite their huge success in Norway, Nofence has had to find ways to show potential customers how the product works when they started expanding to other countries.
That’s where the customer stories and the social wall come in. Nofence runs a beautiful social media wall full of posts from customers showing how they use nofence.
We wanted to know more about how they get such amazing user-generated content, so we talked to Victoria Lillestrøm from the Nofence Sales & Marketing team. Here’s a bit of a spoiler alert: we were in for a big surprise, and you’re in for a showcase like we’ve never had before.
Sales & Marketing, Nofence
Could we get a quick explanation of what makes Nofence so special?
Nofence allows farmers to access areas they couldn’t use before, either because it’s hard to put a fence up or because fences aren’t even allowed there. As a result, the animals can use new pastures and get back to their roots by roaming wherever they want to. Farmers save time and money by not having to maintain fences.
The app also gives you information about each of your animals: you can track your animals’ movements in real time and you’ll get a notification if anything happens.
It’s not only good for the animals but also the farmers. We’ve had some people telling us they could take a vacation for the first time, as they will not have to check and maintain their physical fences anymore. As they also will get notified if something happens to the animals, they will always have control of their herd.
Mobile network coverage in rural areas can be spotty. Isn’t that a problem?
We’re currently commercial in Norway and the UK and only just now beginning to expand into other countries, such as the US and Canada. In terms of mobile networks, it’s really good in Norway, so we don’t have any issues.
You need mobile coverage to transfer the pasture boundaries to the collars. But once the collars have received the pasture, they only rely on GPS. So even when you don’t have a mobile network, the collars will still know the borders of the pasture.
One could easily assume that farming isn’t a particularly modern industry. Is it difficult to get people on board with the app?
It’s incredible how far the agriculture industry has come; they’re using all kinds of technologies. Nofence is a straightforward system. The app is really basic, and we provide a lot of documentation material. So it’s easy to get into it, and we can see that the farmers take to it quite fast.
Nofence is pretty common in Norway now, and people know about it. In the UK, we’re still quite new, and people need to see how it works. Many won’t believe it until they see how it works and that the animals will actually turn away at the sound. It seems a bit unbelievable that it’s so easy to manage your animals with just an app and some collars.
Could you tell us a bit about your “Customer Stories” section on the website?
Customer stories are really important to us because they show the different use cases of Nofence. Because it isn’t just that you don’t need a fence; it’s so much more than that! You can, for example, use it in conservation grazing, fire prevention, grazing on golf courses and solar panel parks, as well as preventing water pollution by excluding areas such as lakes and rivers.
The customer stories show how people use Nofence in different ways and how it works for them. Farmers tend to trust other farmers. So it’s a nice way to show it from their point of view and not only ours. We want to show different sides and different uses. And people find new ways of using Nofence all the time.
We wanted to include some customer stories, not only ones that we have produced, but also coming directly from our customers. And that’s why we set up Walls.io. We have an external company doing a lot of work on our website, and they came up with the idea.
At the moment, we don’t have any strategies around it in place, but I think it’s a great way to show the customers’ view of things and what they post. Interestingly, we haven’t been telling them to do anything or to use the hashtag #nofence — they do it by themselves. So everything that’s on the social wall comes from them organically. We have never told them to use the hashtag.
We also haven’t communicated that we even have the social wall. We just embedded it on our website one day. So I don’t even think many people know about it until they scroll down on our website and see it.
It’s amazing that you’re getting all this content organically. What are your plans for the future?
We’re going to do a lot in the upcoming months regarding marketing, and we want to show that we have a social wall so people are aware that we’re using their content. So that’s the next step: interacting and engaging people more.
We see that we have customers who take a lot of nice photos and we also want to use those for other things, like on our website. Right now, we’re working on this major project of improving our website and having more content and using the content our customers post to our social wall could make our website better. So we will start reaching out to people who post and ask them if we can use the photos on the website.
The social wall is a nice way for us all to see how farmers are using our grazing technology. Now that we’re expanding into other countries, we’re beginning to see, for example, Spanish pilot customers posting. It’s a fun way to see what they’re doing and receive feedback because most of them write small comments on their Instagram posts, and we can see that they’re happy with the product.
Your wall is currently set to manual moderation. How much effort are you putting into post curation?
Not that much. I usually check for new posts three times a week. People don’t post that often, but, usually, every other day, we get a photo or two. I have to do some moderation. There are a lot of photos of hunting, which isn’t something we want on our wall. But mostly, it’s the right content.
Why do you think you keep getting such great user-generated content, even without much promotion put into it?
I think it’s because it’s so straightforward; it’s about animals, and they’re in nature, and they’re wearing our collars. So it’s very simple content but from different countries. And that’s great content that people love to create.
For most farmers, the most trustworthy source of information is another farmer. So for us, it’s super important to show their content. Since we’re expanding now, the social wall allows us to show our customers and show how they use Nofence. So engaging them and sharing their experiences will be really important down the road.
In Norway, people already know Nofence and are comfortable with it. But they’re still sceptical in other countries because they don’t see how it works. They don’t have any neighbours they can ask. And we need to overcome this barrier and give them that “wow, it actually works” moment. With the social wall, we can show them that other people in their country are already using Nofence.
And even though you might not think that farmers are the most present on social media, many of them are. Social media is one of the best places to do marketing and to engage people. We are just starting to be active and engage people on social media, but the social wall is a great way to do it.
You might have been able to read between the lines in the interview and spot my surprise when I learned that Nofence haven’t actually started promoting their social wall or hashtag yet. In all my years of doing showcase interviews for this blog, I have never seen a customer get this kind of high-quality user-generated content without promoting the hell out of it.
In fact, for years, we’ve been harping on about how important it is to actively drive engagement and promotion — in our blog posts, our ebooks, everywhere. And usually, that is correct. But once in a while, there’s an exception that proves the rule.
So how do you get good content?
What’s the secret behind the high-quality user-generated content that Nofence customers are posting without being prompted to do so?
Well, the first step is certainly to have a good product. Clearly, Nofence’s customers are happy with the product and want to tell their followers about it. It also helps that farmers’ field of work (no pun intended) lends itself to visual content that does well on networks such as Instagram. See also: cute animals.
Using #Nofence as a hashtag seems like a logical next step to them, given that it isn’t just the product name but also, very straightforwardly, says what it does: no fence.
Quality over quantity with manual moderation
Victoria is moderating the Nofence social wall by hand. With the number of posts they’re currently seeing, manual moderation doesn’t take a lot of time, and it gives them full control over the content on the social wall.
Some customers want loads of content on their wall. In those cases, manual moderation can quickly take a toll, and it’s more helpful to switch to automatic and instead employ a very strict blocklist and keyword filters.
But when you want a highly curated wall, manual moderation is a great way to make sure every post that goes on the wall has come past you first.
You can choose between manual and automatic moderation under Moderation > Settings on your Walls.io dashboard. You can also add words to your blocklist and allow list there.
In Norway, Nofence is already well-known. But when they started out, they relied on farmers trying the product, giving feedback, and recommending the product to other farmers face-to-face. Good fences make good neighbours. But good neighbours also tell their neighbours about good fences, right?
Word-of-mouth is the marketing method that many small brands rely on at the beginning. But social proof also works online. A happy Nofence customer doesn’t necessarily have to tell the farmer next door about it. They can also post about the product on social media and reach other farmers across the country or even across the world.
And now that Nofence is expanding into markets outside their home country, social proof is becoming more and more important for them. Farmers posting about how much they like Nofence shows other farmers that the product works and helps spread the word about it.
By reaching out to and partnering with farmers who are influencers with large social media followings, Nofence can magnify and multiply their sales and marketing efforts. I look forward to seeing how the #Nofence social wall will develop once they get more intentional about collecting content and promoting the wall.
I was definitely glad to hear they aren’t… on the fence about it. 😉 Okay, okay, I’ll see myself out now. But if you also want to collect customer stories as social proof, then give Walls.io a try.
And if your social wall is as cute as Nofence’s, you can probably expect an email from us. 😉