B2B businesses have made social media a key part of their overall marketing strategy. One eye-catching reason is that 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media when making purchases. This B2B truth extends to agribusiness as well.
Professional farmers are as tech savvy as other B2B purchasers. In fact, those in the ag business have been on the social media train for a decade or more. However, marketing trends come and go, and shifts in social strategy may also be needed in agribusiness as well as other sectors. If you’re in ag, here’s your social media playbook for 2020.
Strategy #1: Prioritize LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the platform specifically designed for B2B networking. As a B2B business in the ag sector, LinkedIn should be the cornerstone of your social-media strategy. It’s great for networking and is an invaluable recruiting tool for larger companies who want to stock their rosters with new talent. Getting the most out of LinkedIn requires some in-depth strategy. So, consider these top tips:
- Turn your LinkedIn company page into a lead-generation machine by adding conversion actions, such as links to your home page, in the description section.
- Use attention-grabbing header images.
- Include a clear, concise sales pitch/mission statement in your company description.
- Make your recent updates and news sections clickable.
- Create showcase pages for products and subsidiaries of your brand.
Cargill, one of the world’s top producers of agricultural products, for example, uses the “about” section of its LinkedIn page to show its 150 years of experience and its focus on relationships, innovation, and sustainability. Cargill’s LinkedIn news feed reflects this, too. Cargill regularly updates the feed with branded stories profiling farmers from around the world, showcasing transparency in its supply chain, and promoting environmentally-sustainable farming practices.
Cargill also uses LinkedIn for recruiting by frequently posting industry rankings and accolades received, such as its 100% score on the corporate equality index. To some, this may seem trivial, but the new millennial workforce cares about inclusion in the workplace and showcasing this accomplishment helps Cargill stand out as a company people want to work for.
Strategy #2: Use Instagram – and not just for product placement
Instagram (IG) and B2C advertising were born for each other. This platform is the equivalent of a digital billboard—it’s positively overflowing with celebs and influencers taking slick pics where they’re holding up a new product or clothing item.
Not only are B2B businesses discovering the benefits of marketing with Instagram, but agribusinesses is as well. More and more farmers are building their brands and communicating their values with IG. They share pics of themselves out and about in the community, at farmers markets, and at conferences.
Even bigger ag businesses are finding the platform particularly wieldy. Case in point: IG allows large companies to pull back the curtain on their operation and feature their employees in action. Plus, they can showcase new initiatives and organic farming techniques. Ag businesses are realizing that every aspect of their farming practice tells a story.
Farm equipment manufacturer AGCO is one prime example of an ag brand using IG effectively. Glance at its Instagram page and you’ll see how it showcases products as if they were sports cars or fashion models: the photos are slick, high-quality and illustrate the product front and center. AGCO also posts photos of new products at industry events, including the World Ag Expo. They even post videos and pictures of an adorable puppy named Frida to showcase their support for animal welfare in the agriculture industry, which anyone can relate too.
Strategy #3: Facebook ads are still (supremely) effective
Recently, Facebook has suffered bad press regarding ethics associated with its ads. This has led to plunging stock prices. But make no mistake, this social-media platform is still a monster force to be reckoned with. Today, Facebook has over 2.5 billion active monthly users, with most logging on daily. Any business, including and especially B2Bs, can’t afford to overlook it.
Creating a Facebook business page and updating it is an effective strategy that’s absolutely free. But where you really want to focus your time, money, and attention, is on Facebook’s ad engine. Facebook makes it relatively easy to create a marketing campaign from scratch and track its progress.
Specifically, there are four categories of marketing objectives you can choose from. The ones B2B enterprises should focus on are:
Under this objective, the Facebook ads you create target your ideal audience and spread the word about your brand.
The ads you create can either send traffic to your website or another landing page. These ads often target specific audience demographics and industry profiles while promoting specific products and services.
Facebook lead-gen ads might be the most effective of all. They allow you to bypass sending people to your website so they can sign up for mailing lists. Instead, if a prospect clicks on a lead-gen ad, Facebook pulls their information directly, which you can then use to create a mailing list.
A conversion campaign serves one purpose: to send prospects and leads to a dedicated landing page relevant to their interests in order to make a sale.
The above categories represent the top of your sales funnel right down to the bottom. And the fact that you can target your complete sales funnel in a single social-media platform, with nothing more than paid digital ads, is valuable indeed.
But there’s something else B2Bs shouldn’t overlook. Even in a time where many are distancing themselves from Facebook, buyers and business decision makers (BDMs) are still overwhelmingly using the platform, according to Facebook IQ. These are legacy users, more than 40% of whom have amassed more than 200 friends. When you decide to advertise on Facebook, you’re not just targeting key decision makers, you’re targeting their influential and powerful friends as well.
Strategy #4: Don’t forget YouTube
More and more businesses in the ag industry are finding that YouTube–the second-largest search engine in the world behind Google–is an invaluable tool. In fact, the ag industry now has its own bona-fide YouTube influencer in Zach Johnson, a millennial farmer who has his own popular channel dedicated to raising awareness about GMOs and sustainable farming.
But let’s look at how larger operations are leveraging YouTube to great success. Toro, a leader in irrigation and outdoor management, is one noteworthy case. The manufacturer has its own YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers. A slick three-minute promotional video establishes the brand as a global leader in outdoor environment solutions with over 100 years of history yet with an eye toward new technologies and sustainable practices.
But branding is only one part of the YouTube strategy. Toro adds new videos frequently that feature everything from new products to interviews with employees and satisfied customers. There are even videos highlighting Toro’s philanthropic efforts.
The production of all this video content serves a specific purpose. Because YouTube is indeed a search engine, SEO is worth its weight in gold. Effectively optimizing metadata and keywords in video descriptions determines how many eyeballs arrive at your video, and thus how wide the audience is that you can reach.
While the strategies for successfully leveraging social media are different from brand to brand, anyone can use the platforms mentioned above to grow their business. Even more, regardless of whether you’re a small mom-and-pop ag business or a big conglomerate, you can use social media to showcase your personality and humanize your operation