The digital age has forever changed the way B2B food ingredient marketers make purchase decisions and stay up to date on the latest trends. With the number of social media users projected to climb to 2.9 billion by 2020, there has never been a better time to adopt the platform as part of your B2B food ingredient marketing strategy. The key is ensuring your messaging reaches and resonates well with your target audience.
In the first of our three-part series on B2B social media best practices for food ingredient marketers, we will set the stage by discussing the growth of B2B social media in the food ingredient industry. In our second blog, we will explain the role of millennials in the food industry and the tools they use to make informed B2B purchasing decisions. To wrap up the series, we will provide tips for breaking through the noise to drive top-of-mind awareness and customer preference using integrated marketing.
Engaging with Buyers Through Multiple Channels
Driven by new technologies and evolving buyer expectations, the B2B marketing landscape is drastically changing. In 2014, the top two platforms used by B2B food ingredient marketers were LinkedIn and Twitter. While these platforms are still effective, they are not the only options for engaging B2B audiences. Today’s B2B content marketers employ an average of six social media platforms, with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube ranking among the top. White papers, videos and eBook downloads, which are heavily promoted through social media, also help generate B2B leads, offering an endless gamut of channels for B2B food ingredient marketing.
Hashtags, which originated on Twitter as a way of making it easier for people to find, follow and contribute to conversations, are widely used across multiple platforms today. Strategic food ingredient marketers use hashtags to make their content more discoverable and to share relevant information from other businesses, which in turn allows them to connect with and engage a larger audience.
Shifting from Desktop to Mobile
Another significant change that has occurred in the B2B social media landscape is the shift from desktop to mobile. About two-thirds of the world’s population now has a mobile phone, and more than half of those individuals own smartphones. As more buyers browse the internet using their mobile devices, it becomes increasingly important for B2B food ingredient marketers to ensure the content they generate through social media is mobile-friendly and easily accessible on the go.
Employing Influencers for Authentic Lead Generation
With an abundance of resources available online, it is easy to see why food ingredient buyers are shifting their focus away from “old school” lead generation and instead turning to online recommendations to guide their purchasing decisions. In fact, 76 percent of decision-makers say they prefer recommendations from LinkedIn, making it an ideal network for social selling. In addition, real-time platforms like Twitter provide food ingredient companies with a place to leverage endorsements through word-of-mouth marketing. Meanwhile, research from Twitter shows nearly 40 percent of users have made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s tweet. Because of this, many food ingredient companies are reaching out to bloggers and social media influencers to effectively engage with buyers using authentic voices.
Connecting with Customers Through Social Listening
Marketing automation software has also made it easier than ever for food ingredient marketers to generate leads through regular, timely B2B social media content. Today, 68 percent of best-in-class companies use lead scoring (a marketing automation feature) to monitor specific keywords, hashtags and comments, which in turn allows them to provide timely customer support and feedback. In addition to posting regularly on social media, following up on comments and requests from target buyers is now a crucial cornerstone to any successful B2B social media marketing strategy.
Overall, social media has created many new opportunities for food ingredient marketers over the last decade. By incorporating social media into your integrated marketing plan as a way to demonstrate your knowledge and willingness to help, you will be better equipped to reach potential customers and generate B2B sales leads. For more information on how to turn social interest into bottom-line results, stay tuned for part two of this three-part blog series, in which we discuss the newest decision-makers for B2B food ingredient purchases and how to engage with them on social media.