LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Although most operators now use Facebook pages and SEO-savvy websites, the challenges of social media have just begun: How can operators connect better with clients and potential ones? How does social media marketing differ from traditional marketing?
Two speakers recently detailed some answers to those questions, as social media platforms, techniques and algorithms constantly change. Michael Campbell of Grace Limousine in Manchester, N.H., and Michael Campos of Dash30Digital Marketing in Garden Grove, Calif., brought their insights to a seminar audience on Feb. 17 at the International LCT Show in Las Vegas.
The Language of Communication
The session opened with Campos explaining how social media is more of a communication forum than a marketplace. Visitors do not engage with social media with a specific intent to buy products or services, especially on Facebook and Twitter.
“This gets a little tricky with LinkedIn, Yelp, and Pinterest, where people certainly go to find ideas for making purchases,” Campos said. “But still, the viewer’s main intention on these sites is research rather than commerce.”
Categorizing social media as a place to share information among familiars, Campos said 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, and 70% of consumers trust opinions from online strangers whom they may never meet, according to Nielsen. As everyone becomes more comfortable and adept at communicating online, the more businesses will have to meet its markets through these new avenues.
Campbell’s Grace Limousine has one of the more successful social media presences in the limo industry, and although he humbly professes not to be an expert on social media, he believes he has a solid sense for how to communicate effectively with his market through social media. He says that with 63% of consumers more likely to use businesses with a social media presence (as reported by Balihoo), he knows that by interacting with his clients through Facebook and Twitter, he’s creating a bond for client retention and customer service. “It’s all about building the relationship,” he said.
Boxing And Social Media
For Campos and Campbell, the best way to focus a limo operation’s social media strategy is to follow a “jab, jab, jab, hook” mentality, which is a term coined by social media expert and New York Times Bestselling Author Gary Vaynerchuk in his latest book: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How To Tell Your Story in A Noisy Social World.
Campos showed these examples of possible leads generated through search and hashtag functions.
Essentially, the strategy is to post regular content that informs your customers and provides value to your market. For Grace Limousine, which has 7,652 likes on Facebook and 399 Twitter followers, it’s about brand building, and Campbell gave some specific examples to how his company does this.
His company often posts on Facebook various promotions and giveaway ride contests with pictures of real customers. “These are the jabs,” said Campbell, referring to the strategy from Vaynerchuk. “These are the friendly and educational posts where you can start to build relationships with your customers.”
Campos touted how Grace Limousine successfully combines content that their clients may find interesting, such as behind-the-scenes pictures of staff servicing cars in the shop, or of business travel tips and informative articles on local attractions and venues in the area. “All of these are the jabs that set up the hook,” he said. “These are the posts that can establish you as a trusted authority and become a first-selected vendor when it comes time to buy.”
Turning Relationships Into Dollars
Campbell shared these Facebook posts from his company, advertising promotions and free ride giveaways as well as pictures of actual clients. Each post earned high numbers in reach and interaction.
To better leverage social media marketing for business, limo operators have to see its value long-term as not just a lead generator, but as an extension of the brand and a line of communication with customers. The leads then generate from this relationship. Campos and Campbell also gave tips on how limo operators can better exploit marketing of their chauffeured services by finding people who are already looking.
Through Twitter, operators can do an instant lead prospect generation through a little savvy search engine use. As Campos explained, typing in key phrases like “looking for a limo” or “planning my wedding” can turn up people in your area who might be looking for the very service you offer.
But is this an opportunity to respond with rates and pricings? Not so, said Campbell and Campos. It’s rather another chance to act as an advisor and authority. Reach out to them and ask them questions about what they are looking for in the service. The message can be brief, and once they respond, it’s more than likely you’ll be able to accommodate their business. This same technique can be used across other social media sites through hashtags and search features.
Knowing Your Customers
Both speakers advised operators to remember who their customers are, and to plan social media content accordingly. Does your company do wine tours, road shows, airport transfers, pub/restaurant crawls, weddings, homecomings, and/or proms? These are all topics that can be talked about and illustrated with pictures on social media. And operators can do this in unique ways by telling their markets what they do best, and by educating their customers so they know they’re getting maximum value.
Campbell says posting pictures of staff doing maintenance on vehicles helps show clients that the business is professional and well managed. Campos also noted that photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than text only posts, according to Hubspot.
Campos advised that before operators post something to Facebook, they should ask themselves:
• Is this post too long?
• Is this post entertaining or surprising?
• Is this interesting in any way?
• And does this content ask too much of the reader?
The idea is to be engaged with your customers. This applies to real life business just as it does to the digital realm. Limo operators can better leverage social media for their businesses by building solid brand reputations through the various channels, and by staying engaged with customers by posting fresh content that is interesting and useful to their markets.
Campbell concluded: “It’s about playing the game the right way and getting attention to your business by bringing something valuable to the table.”