A social media strategy for food and agribusiness today is no longer optional

If you think social media is just for sharing recipes and cat videos, your organization is missing out on the tremendous power of online communities to help your business.

Whether you produce food, market an agriculture product, process food or work behind the scenes in the food system, social media marketing – when used correctly – can increase your visibility and generate a return on investment. Considering one-third of all the people on the globe use social media – and most of them visit at least once per day – wise use of the platform can help you in unexpected ways.

Here are four surprising ways social media can add value and boost your bottom line:

Position your company as an industry leader.

Your organization is constantly being measured against others in the industry. Social media makes it easier than ever to conduct a side-by-side comparison. And you don’t want to come up short.

Social media creates the perfect platform to establish your organization and your employees as a thought leader in the industry. Many younger readers turn to Facebook and Twitter as their first and sometimes only source of news. It makes it possible to reach your intended audience directly without going through traditional media channels. Journalists also follow Facebook and Twitter and when they need a source, expect them to get in touch with a business that already has a strong online presence. LinkedIn ranked as the top B2B content marketing platform, followed by Twitter then Facebook.

What should businesses share on social media?

Your content. Blogs, white papers, position statements, infographics are examples of how to tell the message of who you are and why you are the best at what you do. Give a teaser to draw them to your web site.

Content from others. Don’t limit your social media presence to tweeting your own Share articles and ideas from others that are relevant to your industry. This establishes your page as a one-stop shop for information. Users will learn to turn to your site first for reputable information instead of tracking down other sources.

Even for those businesses that are not consumer facing, a purposeful social media strategy will establish the organization as an expert in the field and a resource others seek out.

Attract top talent.

Among those who will seek out your business are potential employees who can be an asset to your organization.

The first place today’s job seekers will check out your organization is LinkedIn or Facebook. Long before a candidate visits your office, they have formed an impression of what it would be like to work there. And whether or not they want to be part of the team. About 84 percent of organizations use social media for recruiting. (Source: How To (Legally) Use Social Media To Recruit) And for good reason.

What better place to showcase your company culture and let potential talent see that your business is a place they want to be a part of than on social media, the very sites where they already look to see what is happening in the world. This window into your company allows others to see how corporate values match up with their personal values. When these are in alignment, employment is likely to be longer and more successful.

Effectively using social media – like a photo of a team-building activity – provides a glimpse of corporate culture. Sharing about a charity donation demonstrates your values. An active social media presence appeals to job seekers who are eager to be part of a successful team. It’s also an opportunity to engage with prospective employees who might not even be in the job market, such as students or those employed elsewhere. When they see the excitement building at your company, it will spark an interest in joining. They may even start using your hashtag..

Sharing is one element of using social media to attract talent. However, it is also important to use the venue to establish your reputation in the industry.

Grow and connect with your community.

It’s easy to forget that the whole point of social media is to be social. You have the power to build an online community, both in the food and agriculture industry and in your particular sector.

Online communities present a unique opportunity to connect across geographic boundaries with others who share your passion and interests.

The benefits of a stronger community include:

  • Access to expertise
  • Raise profile of industry
  • Broader potential customer base
  • Resource for employees
  • Foresight into trends

In addition to connecting within your industry, social media can be a platform to support your local community. A consistent online presence speaks to commitment and stability, values which are increasingly important, especially in the food and ag sector.

Engage with customers where they are.

Recognize that social media is an outlet for customer service that is as valuable as the call center or front desk. Perhaps even more so because other customers will be listening in on the conversation.

Clients, especially those with a concern, will reach out to you via social media because the process gives them the satisfaction of seeing their comment posted. They could also use social means as a way to help others who are having the same issue. It may be appealing to management to shut off social media channels so customers do not have the forum to complain, but rest assured, they will continue to take their comments to Facebook and other channels. Establishing your customer engagement protocols on social media empowers you to effectively manage the situation. It also demonstrates to your customers that you welcome their feedback.

And many times that feedback is positive. Satisfied customers post pictures on Instagram. People enjoy interacting with their favorite brands and it gives you a chance to make them feel appreciated. Studies show that those who follow brands on social media are more loyal. (Link: http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research/53-percent-of-americans-who-follow-brands-in-social-are-more-loyal-to-those-brands)

As conversations take place online, social media allows you to share your perspective, as well as learn what others are thinking. But you can’t be part of the conversation unless you are active online.

Digital engagement with your customers is no longer a nice to have strategy. The number of consumers and businesses accessing social media today continues to increase significantly. The right social media strategy requires forethought and careful execution, and can generate dramatic results. To learn more about how you can boost your company profile, become top of mind for customers, provide new avenues for engagement and open doors for current and future employees, please visit our contact us page and send us a message!