Mar 04, 2020

Social Marketing Playbook for B2B Agriculture: The 3 Pillars of Social Media

Updated March 3, 2023

B2B businesses have made social media a key part of their overall marketing strategy. One compelling reason is that 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by social media when making purchases and 44% research brands on social networks when making buying decisions. This truth extends to agribusiness as well – B2Bs in the agriculture sector have been using social media for a decade or more.

However, as marketing trends and customer expectations shift, an agriculture business must also shift its tactical social strategy. It’s not enough for ag businesses to post periodic product updates on Facebook. A successful social media marketing strategy begins and ends with three pillars: great content, meaningful engagement and paid social.

If you’re in ag, here’s your social media agriculture playbook.

Agribusiness social media strategy, pillar #1: Post great content

The first pillar of Elevations’ social media playbook is to post great content. In addition to your regular posts in your feed, you must use effective content in your company profile, industry groups and your paid ads. Effective social media content means exploring topics that are relevant to your target audience, timely and authentic. Your social ads and organic posts should speak in your brand voice to educate, inform and demonstrate your expertise as an industry authority and thought leader.

2x Engagement Statistic

While social media advertising is an effective tool for B2B ag businesses (more on that later), for it to be truly successful, you must build up your business presence, industry authority and following with regular organic posts. For example, posting daily on LinkedIn can generate 2X more engagement.

While conversion-centered social media posts that click through to your website are the surest way to generate leads from your content, keep in mind that the goal of any social media network is to keep users on that channel. This means that organic posts that don’t take the user outside the social media platform will be shown to more of your followers. You can build up your audience and extend your reach with posts that don’t link externally.

4-1-1 Rule

So, what do you post? On any social channel, we recommend using the 4-1-1 rule to guide your B2B content:

  • 4 pieces of relevant content, such as ag industry insights shared from external sources
  • 1 piece of original content from your company that informs, educates or entertains
  • 1 piece of promotional content about your brand

Whether it’s external, original or promotional content, effective organic content demonstrates thought leadership and showcases your industry expertise by sharing or discussing any of the following:

  • eBooks
  • case studies
  • whitepapers
  • industry-related articles and news
  • testimonials
  • how-to content
  • events
  • awards

Be sure to incorporate video into your content, which can generate 5X more conversations than any other type of post. Anything that goes into organic content can go into a social marketing video. For example, you can summarize a blog or a case study in a video. You can inform, educate or discuss farming or ag industry-related news. You can also show behind-the-scenes videos of your ag team or processes. However, keep in mind that social channels tend to be jealous. As such, they prioritize native video. For example, LinkedIn tends to show video that’s uploaded directly to LinkedIn to more of your followers than it shows videos that are shared from YouTube or Vimeo.

Post content to LinkedIn

When it comes to B2B social media, LinkedIn is the best choice by far for generating leads and driving conversions. As the world’s largest professional network with over 750 million members, LinkedIn is uniquely positioned to cut through the chatter of social media. This means your ag-related posts are in context and welcome. In fact, according to Neil Patel, 97% of social media leads come from LinkedIn.

If you’re 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 agriculture companies that 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.

Here’s an excellent example of social media for ag businesses:

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 agriculture 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 millennial workforce cares about inclusion in the workplace and showcasing this accomplishment helps Cargill stand out as a company people want to work for.

Agribusiness social media strategy, pillar #2: Engage with your audience

While posting great content is a good start, it’s not enough by itself. Just because you post something on your social channel doesn’t mean it will be shown to your followers. If this has been your strategy up until now, you may be frustrated by the lack of engagement your posts receive from your followers.

There are two reasons for this:

  • You must engage to get engagement.
  • You must pay to play (more on that later).

You must prioritize engagement in your social strategy because social platforms rank content according to how much engagement it gets. This means that the more engagement a post receives, the more it will be shared with your followers.

Engagement means participating in meaningful conversations. Engagement is two-sided – you must both acknowledge the engagement and be acknowledged when you engage. Those meaningful conversations increase your reach.

You can increase engagement by:

  • Creating posts with open-ended questions
  • Creating polls and surveys
  • Sharing social media stories
  • Responding to comments on your posts
  • Responding to indirect social mentions
  • Joining and participating in social media groups

Let’s explore how engaging in industry-related social media groups can increase your engagement and your reach. For this tactic to be truly effective:

Join Groups

Join groups that are relevant to your industry and your target audience. You can find these groups through the search feature of the social media channel you’re on. You can also find relevant groups by checking out the groups that industry thought leaders and your client followers/connections belong to. Read the group description to ensure the group is relevant to your industry and target audience––and that your engagement will be welcome.

Choose wisely. The more groups you belong to, the more difficult it will be to actively engage and manage those conversations, so pick and choose the groups you belong to wisely. A group with too many members may have too many conversations going at once to have quality engagement with any one post. A group with too few members may not have enough interest to generate effective engagement.

Actively engage, both responding to and initiating conversations. When you initiate a conversation, create native content within the group rather than forwarding or sharing content from your page.

Never promote your business in groups. Promoting your business inside a group isn’t just spammy, but it fractures your reputation within the group. Instead, build your brand voice with your target audience with quality conversations.

Agribusiness social media strategy, pillar #3: Pay to play

Although organic social is free, even for business use, to get your social content seen, you must also use paid social. This pay-to-play policy impacts business accounts across social platforms. Only a small percentage of your followers ever see your organic posts:

Let’s look at paid advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Facebook has 2.85 Billion Users

Facebook ads

For business ads, Facebook’s ad engine is a force to be reckoned with. Today, Facebook has over 2.85 billion active monthly users, with most logging on daily. No business, including and especially B2Bs, can afford to overlook it. For this reason alone, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to create a Facebook business page and keep it updated. But you really want to focus your time, money, and attention on Facebook ads. Facebook makes it relatively easy to create a marketing campaign from scratch and track its progress. And if you have an Instagram business profile, you can cross-post your ads.

Specifically, there are four categories of marketing objectives you can choose from. The ones B2B ag enterprises should focus on are:

Brand awareness. Under this objective, the Facebook ads you create target your ideal audience and spread the word about your brand.

Traffic. 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.

Lead generation. 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.

Conversions. 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 agriculture 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 B2B ag businesses 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 your agriculture equipment and products on Facebook, you’re not just targeting key decision makers, you’re targeting their influential and powerful friends as well.

LinkedIn ads

LinkedIn paid sponsorship, also called native advertising, blends in with the surrounding content, increasing engagement up to 60%.  When you use paid social media for ag, you can select your goals and target your audience by industry, job level and description and even by years of experience. We recommend A/B testing to perfect your audience selection. (We explain exactly how to perform A/B tests in this blog: Drive your Marketing Decisions with A/B Testing).

Target the ag community with matched/lookalike audiences.  When you advertise on LinkedIn, you can use Matched Audiences to retarget LinkedIn members who visited or engaged with your LinkedIn company page. You can expand your Matched Audience with a Lookalike Audience of LinkedIn members with similar characteristics. LinkedIn also allows you to upload your email list or CRM data to create Matched or Lookalike Audiences. And if you add the LinkedIn Insight Tag to your ag website, you can generate Matched or Lookalike Audiences from your website visitors.

Use LinkedIn Lead Gen forms on ads. To be effective, paid social media in agriculture must generate complete and accurate leads. LinkedIn Lead Gen forms, which are automatically prefilled with profile data, make it simple for members to send you their details in a couple clicks. Lead Gen form data can be integrated with your CRM or downloaded in a CSV (comma-separated values) format and uploaded into your database. Lead Gen forms also have built-in reporting that makes it easy to measure the success of your paid ad campaigns.

Use Conversation Ads to start conversations with targeted members. If you’ve targeted key prospects and connected with decision-makers as part of an accounts based marketing (ABM) strategy, conversation ads, which LinkedIn displays in messages, are an effective tactic to start conversations with those targeted individuals. With conversation ads, you can select multiple calls-to-action, link to landing pages, open a Lead Gen form or increase engagement with further conversation. Because there is no subject line on a Conversation Ad, open rates are influenced by the first line of the message.

Partner with a B2B marketing agency with agriculture experience

A successful social media marketing strategy follows three tactical pillars—great content, engagement, and paid advertising. Great social media content begins by optimizing your agriculture business page and regularly posting relevant content. Good engagement means engaging with your followers and being active in industry-related groups. Successful paid social uses the social platform’s business tools and puts campaign strategies such as storytelling to work.

The magic of our three-pillar social media marketing strategy is fully realized when you work with an established B2B agency that specializes in agricultural marketing. With over 20 years of marketing experience in the agriculture industry, Elevation can help you develop effective organic and social campaigns that convert. Contact us to learn more about how our agribusiness marketing services can benefit your company.

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