The answer to this question is fairly straightforward: Yes, a food business can find success on LinkedIn if…

  1. You focus on creating business relationships, not selling your product to individual consumers.
  2. You don’t half-ass it.

To “succeed” on any social media platform, you need to use the tool consistently and in a social way. Not a sales-y way. It’s about building relationships with professional people you jive with.

In other words, don’t blindly send Inmails (“InMail” is the LinkedIn term for private message) to hundreds of people with your sales pitch. Don’t only publish updates promoting your brand.

Connect. Be real. Provide value. Do it routinely.

What does success on LinkedIn look like?

linkedinSuccess is a tricky word because it means different things at different times, and it’s not always quantifiable. However, here are some of the objectives a food business can strive for on LinkedIn.

  • Generate B2B leads. According to the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, LinkedIn is far more effective in generating B2B leads than any other social network, with 80% of social media B2B leads coming from LinkedIn, versus 12.73% from Twitter, and 6.73% from Facebook.
  • Check out the Pulse section to gather news and insights that will benefit your business and professional success. Learn something!
  • Share information with your colleagues in groups and on your streams (personal profile stream and business page stream). Feel good about the value you bring.
  • Do soft market research in consumer and industry groups. Remember this: Groups are worthless unless you work the group!
  • Develop relationships with your food product buyers, retailers, manufacturers, vendors, employees, and on and on. Connect with someone immediately following a meeting and stay in touch.
  • Organize your connections. Did you know you can download a list of your connections emails from LinkedIn? Sort contacts by birthday? Save contact searches? Tag contacts for easy follow-up later? This is one powerful Rolodex that makes the sales funnel a bit easier to manage.
  • Dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs) with a controlled branded message. Most social media profiles show up high in the SERPs.

Publishing Opportunities on LinkedIn

  • Create a thorough, captivating personal profile that tells your story, including your role in your food business. Try to avoid a resume feel on LinkedIn. Find ways to get visual and sound different than the rest.
  • Create a business page that highlights your food biz and showcase pages that highlight each product.
  • Participate in groups.
  • Post articles. Comment on others.
  • Publish updates to both your personal profile and business page. This will drive traffic to your website (if you include links to your site) and keep you top of mind with your connections.
  • Post your presentations to SlideShare. Show off your expertise.
  • Advertise with sponsored updates, sponsored Inmails, and content ads.

LinkedIn Publishing Best Practices

According to the report we mentioned earlier, you need 100 to 200 followers to get much engagement on LinkedIn. To garner the best engagement…

  • Use images in your posts. Links are good now and again. Never post text only.
  • Given that LinkedIn is generally about professional development, always be thinking about what will help your connections do their job better. Post more content related to professional development, tools, tricks, shortcuts, trends, and interesting data.
  • Post frequently. Hubspot says it posts about 35 times a week. That may be a bit much for your biz, but try a few things and see what works.

But There’s No Time!

We hear you. It’s only been in the last few months that we’ve focused on LinkedIn for The Condiment Marketing Co. For the longest time, we just didn’t see the results and were too dang busy!

However, after doing research for a couple of our B2B clients, we realized that LinkedIn really does have strength when it comes to driving traffic to your website and generating business leads.

That’s what inspired this blog post. So, while we totally understand that you are overwhelmed by the marketing opportunities for your food biz, don’t ignore LinkedIn. As we see it, this social media network is a powerful contender for growing food businesses.

Just look at Annie’s and KIND to see what we mean.

Sara Lancaster

About Sara Lancaster

Sara is The Condiment Marketing Co.’s founder and creative director. She oversees client relationships, strategic marketing plans, as well as a bit of copywriting and social media management.