Transparency: B2B organizations respond to consumer demand through social media

Tabatha Laverty    February 22, 2015

Organization Name: FreshAirFarmer, Chobani,

Industry: Agriculture/Food Manufacturing

Web References: Content Marketing Institute, David Weaver – Inventory Supply Chain Blog, FreshAir Farmer, AgStar Financial Services, Chobani

The benefits of social media for business-to-consumer organizations are well documented. It’s easy to find hundreds of examples of well executed campaigns where business use social platforms to engage consumers, promote brands and ultimately sell products.

The business-to-business community, however, seems to be lagging behind in social strategy adoption. Although 87% of B2B organization are on social media (according to the CMI’s 2014 report) almost half admit to not having a documented strategy for content. The same report also suggests the B2B organizations don’t have much faith in the effectiveness of social platforms.  Across the board, social media platforms were rated by at least 50% of participants as less effective than other marketing initiatives. Overall, the report suggests that while B2B organizations are ON social media, they aren’t really USING social media.  At least not as well as they could be.

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I was fortunate to be able to discuss the growing trends of social media for B2B organizations with supply chain social media expert, David Weaver.  David maintains the Inventory and Supply Chain Blog, where he and his team discuss trends in supply chain management.

As David lays out in his blog “3 Ways Social Media is Impacting the Supply Chain,” there are three primary ways B2B organizations can use social media.

  1. Strengthening supplier relations
  2. Creating transparency
  3. Enhancing internal processes and communications

Transparency is a particularly important and growing trend. Perhaps the greatest example of this can be seen in the food and agriculture business. There is an every increasing public demand for information on where their food comes from.  “Today’s consumers are paying more attention to where their food comes from and are holding companies accountable for mistakes they, or their suppliers, or their suppliers’ suppliers, make,” David says.

Many food companies have noticed this trend and developed  campaigns aimed at ensuring customers that ingredients are sourced from quality zol-16-300x146suppliers. Fast food chains Chipotle and even McDonalds have jumped on the “transparency” bandwagon and started including content that attempts to assure consumers their food is coming from top quality sources. Chobani’s “How Matters” campaign is a great example of this kind of strategy.


But it is important to note that this trend is not being driven by the manufacture’s desire for such disclosure.  It’s being driven by consumer demand!

A few smart farmers have picked up on the public demand and have been using social media to educate the public and stay connected with potential suppliers.

Southern Ontario farmer, Andrew Campbell, is a shining example of this. Campbell started a twitter campaign that will see him make a post each day from his family farm where he produces corn, soy beans, wheat, hay and milk. Under the handle @FreshAirFarmer and hashtag #farm365, Campbell posts pictures featuring daily life on the farm that are both fun and informative.

“People are so interested now in where their food comes from today. I think one of the things missing from the conversation is how is that food produced? I hope people get a better understanding for all those things that do happen on the farm and go toward producing food,” he says. eating-1024x1024“I think we, as farmers, can have a role in helping people better understand what’s in their food and where there food is coming from and what it takes to produce it.”

The campaign is smart on Campbell’s part.  There is a lot of misconception in the public about how food is produced and arbitrary labels like “natural” confuse the issue.  Through education on the how food is produced on his farm, Campbell can change the conversation and clear up misconceptions. He in turn creates a higher demand for products like the ones he produces and establishes himself as a leading producer and potential supplier for food manufacturers.

His sentiment of working against misinformation is echoed across the industry. In this clip, Mark Greenwood, of AgStar Financial Services shares his views in this call to action for more farmers to join the conversation on social media.


Lessons for others

Social media, in all applications, is truly about conversation and relationships. Social platforms have blurred the lines between business to business industries and business to consumer industries and given B2B organizations the opportunity to speak directly to consumers and everyone along the chain can benefit from those conversations.  In Andrew Campbell’s own words:

“People trust farmers. Why wouldn’t they? We are nice. Usually dress a little funny in our overalls. We have happy cows and lush fields of corn.

We work hard. We work often. We don’t stop until the bin is full, so their belly can be full.

It is time to take that trust and start talking. Not about our yields or our pick-ups. Even though they are all very nice.

It is time to talk about what we do. How we do it. Why we do it. Because as we know, we do it for them.

It is time to make a video, or send a tweet, or share a great story on Facebook.

It is time to head to a local food show, or wine tasting, or seniors centre, or public school.

It is time to simply talk. “

Submitted By: Tabatha Laverty

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