It’s a common misperception that social media is only beneficial to businesses that have fun, exciting or sexy products and services to promote. While the local cupcake bakery and the hot new clothing company can definitely benefit from sharing their marketing-driven content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, social media can be equally beneficial for businesses in any industry that have engaging content.
For trucking and shipping companies, opportunities abound in social media for a variety of reasons. First, the industry as a whole has not widely embraced the idea of sharing online content. This means that there is a lot of room to dominate in the space. For most companies involved in logistics, the content possibilities are almost endless. Images, articles, tips, videos, infographics and more can all be very interesting and informative to customers, prospects, employees and other audiences.
Businesses and individuals are using Facebook and other social sites for far more than looking at pretty pictures of cupcakes and reading the latest Hollywood gossip. They are perusing these 24-hour channels to learn about the brands they choose to buy from. If you’re responsible for the marketing of a trucking or shipping company, the following tips may inspire you to expand your horizons when it comes to social media.
Post Viral Content
Few would consider the trucking and shipping industry to be glamorous. Because of this, companies within the industry have historically been reluctant to share their stories for fear that few would be interested in them. Yet, perhaps these companies have sold themselves short, as there is an audience for nearly everything on the internet, including content detailing how products we use every day are transported from point A to point B.
Maersk, the world’s largest container ship operator, knew they had a story to tell and have led the industry in social media efforts by producing a wide range of content. This includes an amazing series of behind-the-scenes videos they produced with the help of the Discovery Channel that chronicled each phase of the construction of the Triple-E vessel, the biggest container ship ever built.
Shared on their YouTube channel and their website, these videos have gained tremendous interest from those within the industry, as well as plenty of others who are simply fascinated with the tremendous effort required to build a ship of this size. Beyond its immediate appeal as fascinating content, the videos have also strengthened the company’s brand and its focus on providing energy efficient shipping vessels.
Provide Customer Service
It is a new reality that customers will use social channels to provide feedback on their experiences with companies. Even if you proactively direct customers to contact your customer service agents via phone or email, they know that they can have a bigger impact on Facebook, Twitter and other sites where others are also reading the content.
Every business in every industry now potentially faces this problem, and how it is addressed can have a dramatic impact on future success. Online reputation management is simply a part of doing business, and it is not a good idea to ignore customers who complain on social channels or online review sites. Simply put, these complaints can be spread far and wide.
The logical solution is to consider your social channels as an important part of your customer service efforts. It’s a customer touch point that has to be managed just like phone calls and emails.
As the industry’s largest package delivery company, UPS delivers more than 15 million packages a day to more than 6.1 million customers. When you’re dealing with that amount of volume, there is bound to be an occasional delivery hiccup. When they happen, customers frequently complain directly on the company’s Facebook page. For this reason, UPS quickly and publicly responds to customer comments to address problems and defuse tension. While no company likes to see public complaints, UPS’ prompt efforts to provide resolution serve to strengthen their brand.
Most social media outlets offer advertising to increase reach to larger audiences. Compared to other mediums for customer acquisition, social media ad costs are typically nominal.
Many of the trucking and shipping industry leaders have already begun to add social media advertising into the multi-million dollar advertising budgets. For smaller companies, this outbound marketing strategy can also be beneficial by serving as a cost-effective way to reach new customers and to increase brand awareness. Because social media advertising typically enables companies to set their own budget and to start and stop campaigns quickly, the flexibility is particularly useful when there is a cyclical or seasonal shift in sales volumes.
Support a Cause
Aligning your company with another organization is yet another way to expand your online audience via social media. When it’s a non-profit, you also gain the benefits of helping others while strengthening your brand. In the case of Arkansas-based trucking company J.B. Hunt, a $500,000 contribution to the Walton Arts Center created a variety of opportunities to develop and share content, as well as generate traditional media exposure. Because the Center is also located in Arkansas and is important to the local community, it was an obvious choice for J.B. Hunt.
To maximize the effectiveness of a partnership with a non-profit, it’s important to choose an organization that is aligned with your corporate values and appeals to your customer base. In some cases, it may make sense to work with a local organization to generate buzz within a targeted area. A national or even an international non-profit can also be a strong choice depending on the goals of the campaign.
Create Useful Content for Industry Professionals
Truckers face a unique set of challenges every day of their working life. On the road in an ever-changing environment, they are required to process information and quickly make decisions to meet their delivery deadlines.
Along with providing content for end-users, trucking companies can also provide useful information and tips to truckers in real-time via social media to help drivers on the road, as well as customers waiting for their shipments. Creating a company-branded Twitter handle specifically for truckers can enable you to provide updates on weather, accidents, company updates, policy changes and even tips on rest stops and weigh stations. A dedicated Instagram account can be used to publish photos from truckers on the road, encouraging camaraderie and sharing between employees and contractors who rarely ever see each other in person.