Friday, November 26, 2010

Logistics and Social Media

Whether you recognize it or not, your logistics company has, and is a brand and social media is a key marketing platform for growing and protecting that identity.

So what are the various social media platforms available out there? Here is a partial list of the most popular and likely relevant that businesses need to be aware of:

•Twitter: A micro blogging site in which short notes can be broadcast to a list of "followers" in 140 character bites. Twitter is gaining popularity and has over 170 MM registered users. An under-appreciated fact is that Twitter is a great search tool and more effective than Google in a lot of ways.

•Facebook: A social networking site with over 500 MM registered users, Facebook is the largest social media platform on the internet. Facebook users are highly engaged and active so the right presence in that space is a powerful thing.It cannot be avoided anymore - it is vital for every business to understand and actively manage the tremendous upside that social media offers for companies today. As a logistics services provider social media is every bit as crucial to your company as it is for the large international consumer brands we all see in the media every day.

•Blogging: Yes, even you should have a blog... There are countless free services for hosting a blog (Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress) and blogging gives you the chance to establish credibility in an industry, educate, and communicate with customers.

•LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a business focused social network in the way Facebook is a personal social network. LinkedIn is built to facilitate conversations and networking amongst its users.

You should be asking yourself if there really is any legitimate value to all of this to my organization. As an example, every logistics companyneeds to understand that Twitter is NOT just a way for some celebrity to tell the world what they ate for lunch today. It is a way to connect and interact with their community of fans. Think about what the person is really doing - they are actually furthering their personal brand among their core audience, and if they do it right they are attracting new followers who will get in line when their next movie comes out. These are the results any business that uses Twitter is also looking to achieve in its own way.

The opportunity and the challenge of social media for logistics services providers is to find where your core audience is online. It is certainly not worthwhile to Tweet or spend time creating a Facebook account online if there will be no one there to see it. Using social media is an investment of cost and time - the community and following does not happen quickly but the rewards can be significant if done right. Whether you are a logistics software provider or a truckload carrier, your customers are somewhere in an online community.

The key to building this following is to create interest in your presence through content or services that inspire people to engage. This can be educational content or tools that help people do their jobs better in some way, or it can just be funny or engaging activities that people develop an interest in (see Farmville on Facebook!). Marketing 101 states that engaged customers are loyal customers and getting customers to interact with you because they want to is winning the hardest part of that battle.