There are more than a few skeptics about whether social media is effective in B2B marketing overall, and aviation marketing, in particular. The technology behind social media is new and it’s evolving at a breakneck pace. This is not just change, it’s explosive change, and it can be a bit scary. But it doesn’t have to be.
If you strip away the intimidating statistics and unfamiliar technology, social media is really just one more way to connect and converse with your prospects and customers. It’s efficient. It’s cost effective. Ignore it — or use it clumsily — at your own risk.
Like any marketing tactic, social media should be part of an integrated plan with clear goals and objectives (sales increase, perception change, product launch, customer feedback, lead generation, etc.) Once you decide to employ social media, begin by monitoring what is being said and written about your company, and craft your plan accordingly. This is voice of the customer at its best – in real time.
Although slow to accept social media it appears that business aviation has embraced it more readily than other segments of the aerospace and defense industry. Battered by a sluggish global economy, business aviation marketers need to use every tool at their disposal to improve relationships and results.
Since 2007 Flightglobal has been honoring the best and brightest in aviation websites and social media activities with Webbie awards. At NBAA 2010, about 80 people attended an educational session about social media. Two of the industry’s flagship magazines, Aviation Week and Flight International, are leveraging social media to deliver the news where, when, and how readers want it.
Content is King. Hint: It’s Not About You It’s not unusual for companies to keep their audiences informed about their news and activities daily and to ramp up their exposure at trade shows – but most are not getting it right because their content is company-centric. If your company is using social media to broadcast information, it’s missing the point. The real value of social media is in providing useful information, helping to solve problems and, over time, building relationships and trust — the essence of good marketing.
The successful use of social media necessitates a new way of communicating, and some companies don’t have the flexibility to support this approach. Seventy-eight percent of people say they trust the recommendations of other consumers (and it’s probably even higher for pilots) while just 14 percent of people trust ads. If marketers are going to establish credibility and expertise, they must be transparent while providing relevant, original content that benefits customers. Anything less and you will lose your audience. The aviation community can smell a fake, or a blatant sales pitch, a mile away. Alternatively, compelling and dynamic content will create brand advocates who will share your story within their niche online communities. Good relevant content rules the web.
Adding social media to your marketing mix may not be easy, and there are certainly barriers to success (internal resources, company policy, IT support). Do your homework and start small, using the tools that are the best match for your goals and objectives. Check out LinkedIn as a resource for information and networking. The niche groups are a great source of information and exchange. Consider using Twitter and start by following people or companies with messages that are meaningful to you. If you are already using Facebook in your personal life (people 35 and older are the fastest growing group of Facebook users) consider how it could work for marketing purposes.
Demonstrate how social media can influence all phases of the buying process (awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty and brand evangelism) and as success builds, internal support will, too. Work to stay abreast of new technologies, tools and opportunities, taking advantage of Internet resources and training classes. Patience is a must, because building relationships and trust takes time. It’s a long and winding road, but the results are well worth the journey. XXXX There is no time like the present to stop talking your prospects and start talking with them. What are you waiting for?
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