Global agriculture manufacturer AGCO owes a portion of its $10B in net sales to its progressive social media strategy. The company’s brands include Massey Ferguson, Challenger and Valtra, popular with farmers and farm machinery dealers around the world.
For AGCO, social media strategy is all about connecting with their target audiences through thought leadership. Sue Otten, Former Director, Corporate Marketing & Brand Communications Worldwideand recipient of the 2011AGCO Chairman’s Award, took time to talk with me about her strategies for AGCO’s social media and shared success tips for other B2B firms seeking to get started with social media for B2B marketing. She explains:
“Thought leadership resonates with B2B. Social media is just one pipeline for AGCO’s thought leadership to reach their audiences, along with other marketing methods like sales calls, trade shows, brochures and websites.”
AGCO’s end customers, professional farmers, were already active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Before launching its own social media efforts, AGCO explored the current behaviors and found many farmers in many countries were already posting YouTube videos of their equipment with comments. And the company has eagerly engaged these users, garnering 145k Facebook fans, 7k Twitter followers and 2k YouTube subscribers. They have a winning strategy to engage audiences, with a combination of informational and entertaining content. For instance, each week on Facebook, AGCO posts a photo game, complete with nicely stylized graphics. Fans are encouraged to guess which farm machine is represented, and the game seems quite popular:
The company partners with their dealers in helping them to be thought leaders for the end consumer. AGCO’s social media strategy engages dealers and offers them training, while AGCO also provides marketing tools the dealers themselves can use.
One such tool is a widget, which helps dealers show fresh content on their websites without having to invest in content creation themselves. An example of this customizable widget on the website for Merz Farm Equipment shows a regularly updating blog that also promotes AGCO brand awareness:
Getting Started with Social Media Marketing for B2B
Otten, who started her career with Apple, encourages B2B firms to take social media seriously. She says:
“You need to know what your customer is saying about you, no matter if it is on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or other digital outposts, like forums and blogs. And social media puts speed on your side. You can be much more responsive to customers.”
She also shared some tips with B2B firms on how to get started with social media marketing. Here are her top three:
- Define your objectives for social media. Do you want customers to value your brand as a thought leader? Are you seeking to generate demand?
- Establish a listening function. Learn what customers are already saying about your brand and where they are getting their information.
- Join the conversation. Develop and distribute content that your customers will value. Customers may not want all the information you can give. Determine which is the most valuable to them.
AGCO’s social media strategy is an instructive case for all B2B firms. I would encourage brands seeking to start or improve on their social media strategies to research the company’s blogging, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube efforts more deeply. Social media can be thought of as another way a B2B firm can provide thought leadership and adding value to its customers.