Technological advancement and innovation have taken effect in the current world hence a paradigm shift in production modes and daily operations of agricultural products. This advancement has equally shifted the methods of communication from agriculture industries to the public. Agriculture is becoming more diversified as population grows demanding an exploration of different communication options to reach the target market. Bayer and Monsanto are the best examples of agribusiness companies that sell seeds and other agricultural products internationally. Bayer and Monsanto extensively market their agricultural products through the social media and this has been the key factor behind their success in the market. Most farmers are embracing tech-based advertisement techniques such as social media to connect with the consumers at a personal level. Through social media marketing tools, Monsanto and Bayer target and properly meet their customers. Ideally, social sites are swift, instant, spontaneous, and heighten relationships between farmers and their clients. This marketing strategy has been emulated by most businesses as well especially Bayer. Industries are hiring social media experts to manage their sites and create traffic (Kolb, 2008, p.1357). This study explains approaches to social media use in agribusiness industry with reference to Bayer and Monsanto companies.
Social Media Sites
Social media is a fundamental marketing tool in agribusiness especially for Bayer. This marketing strategy allows businesses to interact with their clients expanding their reach. The most common social sites used for marketing agribusiness are Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube channels. These sites allow farmers without restrictions to sharing their opinions (Miller, 2009, p. 472). Facebook offers users an option of creating a fan page for company’s brands and services, and Bayer uses this tool. Twitter allows businesses to create 140 character posts for users to follow, and Monsanto Company is known for using this tool while marketing its agricultural products such as seeds to customers. Blogs are online journals written by business owners about their agricultural products. YouTube allows businesses to broadcast video clips to attract viewership, and this is highly used by Bayer when marketing its seeds (Miller, 2009, p. 474).
Approaches to Social Media Marketing in Agribusiness
There are various approaches to social media use in agribusiness by different companies. These approaches are discussed below as follows;
Setting concrete goals. Goals determine what we tend to achieve by the closure of an activity or a period. Agriculture based businesses and entrepreneurs such as Monsanto Company should single out why they opt to use social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Goggle+, Pintest, tweeter accounts, and others to run ads on their products and services. Having such a mindset opens the scope in terms of resources and methods to adopt within the industry to get the message to the end user. This equally helps agribusiness to adjust their strategies to suit their objectives. Practically, likes, shares, and positive comments from the public are good indicators of the successfulness of the selected approach (Shih, 2011, p. 229).
Creative social team. It is prudent to have a team of people to execute the social media strategy. This ensures the site is well managed in terms of content, graphics, and feedback. Even though the outlined tasks should be shared among the members, there is a need of putting one person in charge to oversee the site to avoid mistakes and errors that may tarnish the name of the organization (May &Warr, 2011,p. 380).
Setting site guidelines. Dahl ( 2015, p. 464) argue that a content strategy should be created to match the goals of the social site as well as those of the company by taking into account the company’s mission and brands. This will ensure that the content resonates with the seeds customers and maintains consistency. Additionally, this strategy ensures that the cost is effective and in accordance with the agricultural marketing strategy.
Determinants of Successful Social Media Usage in Agribusiness
The legal factors. Just as any other form of marketing, social media is guided by the Corporation Act 2001 that limits social media ability. For instance, section 734 requires advertisements to contain selective statements which are accessible to investors a policy highly used by Monsanto (Carpenter & Lertpratchya, 2016, p. 351). Therefore, agribusiness industries and individuals should select a well-structured slogan communicating their businesses. To the lower end, complying with such a requirement is a challenge due to technical limitations. For example, Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters inclusive of hyperlinks. Equally, controversies of advertisement restrictions would lead to criminal liability. The stated restrictions work to the disadvantage of agribusiness industries and entrepreneurs.
Limitations on effectiveness. Social media effectiveness in agribusiness is limited to reaching out the potential investors. The successfulness of this approach depends on the target’s will to engage with social sites. This can be solved by expert creativity to lure the potential clients into engaging with the site, however, does not promise to sell the brand (Fariborzi, 2012, p. 544).
Cost considerations. Social media allows agricultural users to post whatever they want at no charge. Such posts are limited to immediate followers of the business or brand. To enlarge the audience reach, paid ads or sponsored content are advised. In this context, payment depends on the number of the target audience to be reached out (Goldman, 2013, p. 107). Having a prior knowledge of demographics such as age, gender network choice, and location will help to tailor the content in the most cost effective way cutting down on unplanned expenditures. Practically, posts on Facebook attract less cost as compared to LinkedIn and Twitter networks. This is why Bayer prefers Facebook to LinkedIn while selling its seeds.
Establishing trust and human connections. Potential agribusiness investors are less likely to act on the basis of invites from social media sites as compared to an email, phone call or a text from a broker whom they have established contact with. Therefore, it is important to value human interaction before engaging in social media marketing (May &Warr, 2011, p. 380).
Oversight of user content. Social media content is unidirectional and spontaneous (Goldman, 2013, p. 105).The content runs the risk of manipulation since it is designed in a way that the user can share, repost, and transmit. For example, a negative comment on the Bayer’s website or social platform exposes it to dangers of attack from the public domain and can cost it in terms of financial position and loss of potential investors due to prospects information. It is therefore ideal to take caution, monitor user agribusiness activities and respond to negative comments.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing Advantages
Large audiences reach. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest command a huge audience. Specifically, Facebook and Twitter accounts have approximately 350 million users, Instagram has 500 million, and Pinterest has 110 million (Fariborzi, 2012, p. 542). This audience may work for the good of agribusiness by attracting more clients hence a huge profit margin as well as market globally.
Free creation. Social media marketing is entirely free to start. There is no start-up fee charged therefore agribusiness industries, and persons will only incur costs linked to time and labor. However, there are paid ads to increase audience reach though not a requirement for establishing a social site to run business operations (Dahl, 2015, p. 464).
Encourages sharing. Contents, ads, photos, recipes, quotes, slogans, ideas, among other elements posted on social media sites allow users to share to other networks and individual connections (Kolb, 2008, p.1357). This allows viral spreading of the communication set by the business.
Increased brand loyalty. Social media does not only increase reach but also brand loyalty. Followers who express interest in a brand shared over social sites are more likely to create a strong brand loyalty that is unshakable (Schneider, 2010, p. 66). Practically, this approach works on two-way communication terms where the customers can express their expectations and the agribusiness industry, or individuals address these expectations. For instance, a strong relationship has got created between Bayer’s clients and the business hence increasing the confidence in clients’ decision towards the business agricultural products at present and in future.
Unveils valuable insights. Since social sites are communication tools, valuable information about customers is obtained there. With such information, businesses are likely to act upon the highlighted areas and make smarter business decisions. For example, customers’ views on agricultural products can influence agricultural based industries to restructure their modes of production, service delivery, packaging and design among other factors. It is a platform for evaluating how people think about the business and establishing methods of improvement to better their needs hence a mutual co-existence (Schneider, n.d., p. 67).
Social Media Marketing Disadvantages
Negative feedback. The unidirectional flow of information and the sharing ability allowed on social sites exposes businesses and entrepreneurs to the risk of losing customers due to glowing views, defamatory comments, and abusive content. Some of the negative comments may, however, come directly from staff members jeopardizing the image and growth efforts of the seeds business. For instance, employees may paint a bad picture of their bosses and the company as well by exposing internal issues linked to the business via social media in the form of attacks or threats. This makes clients loss trust in the organization agribusiness operations (Agribusiness, 2009, p. 76).
A potential tool for embarrassment. Communication is spontaneous therefore social media exposes individuals and companies to risk of being embarrassed in the event where a non intended post runs on their site due to errors (Tarnanidis, Vlachopoulou & Papathanassiou, 2009, p. 399). Shockingly, error linked posts go easily noticed and receive a swift reaction from the public domain diminishing the image and position of a business or an individual.
Time intensive. It calls for extra efforts and time to maintain consistency within social media platforms, especially when dealing with interactive sessions (Burke, 2005, p. 70).The dedication and resource mobilization constraints may be witnessed leading to stagnation of social media sites. For example, delayed feedback and updates strain target relations. Social sites need investing on time to attract more followers and build lasting relationships. This attracts more customers to Bayer while selling its seeds and other agricultural products.
Roles of Social Media in Agribusiness
Social media plays a pivotal role in agribusiness. This technology allows agricultural based businesses such as Bayer and Monsanto to engage with their clients, it increases calibration and supports the value chain in the agriculture sector. As a communication tool, social sites close the gap between farmers, industry, and consumers (An Introduction to Agribusiness' Incoming Editors, 2015, p. 2).
Consumer engagement. Marketing for Bayer has been enhanced through social media sites ranging from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and other related sites. These platforms command a huge target audience for agricultural businesses globally. Through innovative technologies such as smartphones and internet, billions of marketing firms and agribusiness industries for Monsanto connect with farmers and customers and engage them in their operations. Such a move has been linked to increased production and other developments as far as agriculture is concerned (S, 2017, p.23).
Industry knowledge and trends. Social media has effectively lead to an industrial revolution in agriculture by spreading new methods of production such as hybrid technology in animals and plants through social sites that allow sharing of knowledge globally for improvements in agricultural methods and practices especially for Monsanto(Zarrella,2010, p 126). Farmers have a smile since solutions to low yields, and other production issues can be found via internet enabled platforms that offer solutions. For example, LinkedIn articles and Facebook pages on farming technique, diseases and pest control and many others.
Calibration across regions. Google is a powerful search site that connects a farmer to other farmers giving them an interactive platform across regions. As opposed to traditional ways of production that required a lot of traveling, farmers enjoy the use of social media at the comfort of their homes. For instance, Bayer uses Google drive like a tool of sharing and updating vital information simultaneously to farmers. This has opened a wider resource center that supports agricultural production (Wang & He, J. 2011, p. 120).
Concisely, this paper has addressed social media approaches linked to successful agribusiness. It has key components attached to the successfulness of social media marketing that can be applied in agricultural industries for robust development. It singles out social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as the most used sites to communicate agribusiness ideas. Competitively, the study reflects on approaches to social media marketing in agribusiness such as setting concrete goals, creative social team, and setting site guidelines for effective operation. Additionally, it singles out legal, cost, limited effectiveness, oversight of user content, trust and human relations as possible success factors within agribusiness marketing strategy. Further, it notes that social media has advantages such as large target audience; free creation, content sharing, unveils valuable insights and increased brand loyalty. More so, the study reveals that social media marketing exposes agribusiness to risks of embarrassment, negative feedback, and time constraints. Strategically, the study singles out social media marketing approach as a communication tool that reduces the gap between agribusiness industries, farmers, and customers through engagements, increased calibration, and supported value chain. In conclusion, the paper has discussed important social media elements applicable in agribusiness.
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