As a chauffeured transportation provider, you know you can’t afford not to be on social media in 2019. Perhaps you have a company page on Facebook, and maybe also a Twitter or Instagram account. But do you often wonder whether you’re getting the most from them?
Remember that it’s not just about collecting followers or likes: You need a strategy, too. So how do you make an impact with both current and potential customers to see a real return on the time, money, and effort that goes into running these accounts?
1. You don’t need to be on every platform all the time.
This is a basic tenet of social media marketing. Don’t make the mistake of equating more social media platforms and posts with more benefits to your business. Yes, you may get more exposure, but is your message finding the right audience? In the days of offline marketing, would you take out an ad in every magazine on newsstands in the country in the hopes of reaching your target customers? Of course not; you would know who your target customers are and tailor the message to them where they consume. The same goes with social media.
Juggling every platform can be expensive (especially if you’re running ads or boosting posts), time-consuming, and ultimately ineffective. Find out where your target customers are hanging out and what times of the day they are most likely to log on and see your posts, then focus on that. For example, corporate clients are best reached through platforms such as LinkedIn, but if you’re promoting wedding and bachelor/bachelorette limousine services, you’re probably better off focusing on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, where these customers are more likely to be. If you’re looking for affiliate work, other operators are most frequently using Facebook and LinkedIn. It will be different for each group of clients and each type of service you offer, so find out what these are and use that breakdown to focus your efforts.
2. Make a plan.
Don’t just randomly post for the sake of it: Always have a clear goal in mind and think about how you are going to achieve it. Consider creating a content calendar that gives you a clear picture of what you are going to do, when, and on what platforms. (You can read more about how to build a content calendar in Pat Charla’s article “Your Strategy for Content Marketing” in the August 2019 issue.) This doesn’t need to be overly complex. You can just add a few ideas into a few days of your calendar each week. And don’t be afraid to share some of the same content across several social media platforms—so long as it’s relevant and fits the medium.
This will help with your workload, too. There will be fewer surprises and last-minute scrambles for content, so you’ll be able to plan resources and timeframes for better quality posts. This doesn’t mean you can’t react to breaking news or interesting content that you see that would be of interest to your customers, but this can be fit around your existing plan without the added pressure.
When making your plan, gather some information by assessing what posts have worked well for you in the past and considering key dates for your business, such as football season or a local convention, then go from there. Post a variety of content and see what gets the best response. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but come back to your plan as necessary to ensure a methodical approach.
When it comes to choosing the type of content you want to share, video is particularly effective for promoting your business on social media. Many of your loyal customers will be happy see themselves in that content (with their permission), and it gives you personal, powerful content to share with potential clients while showcasing why you’re great at what you do.
3. What are you posting, and why?
Give some thought to the content you’re posting and your reason for posting it. How will it help your customers? Why would they be interested in it? You are trying to get them engaged with your business and the services you offer, but that connection won’t happen if you don’t provide something useful that will make them pay attention and differentiate you from your competitors. Also, if you’re just offering a sales pitch in every post, it’s the quickest way for them to tune you out. When thinking about types of content you can share, prioritize added value. What would potential customers want to read and see? What are current clients looking for? You have a wealth of expertise regarding your industry and you can share some of those valuable behind-the-curtain insights with your audience—as soon as you identify what they are.
For example, if you want to promote your airport shuttle services to corporate clients, you might think about sharing some business travel tips based on your personal experiences to boost engagement, or discuss current industry trends in corporate travel. That way there’s a direct takeaway from your post that will be helpful to them, while subtly serving as a reminder why you are their go-to source for transportation and related information. It’s fine to share secondary content occasionally, too—just don’t do it too often or it looks like you don’t have anything original to contribute. The strongest content will be compiled from your firsthand experience, which will illustrate your expertise on the subject. If you do share secondary content, be sure it’s from a reputable source—and isn’t promoting another company. When posting visual content, shy away from stock images as much as possible; instead, use a picture of one of your chauffeurs with your vehicles, or a couple using your wedding car services. This is much more powerful social proof.
4. Use hashtags.
Hashtags are a great way to improve discoverability and drive engagement with your business. Use them well, and you’ll see real results. Here are some simple rules to follow:
Do your research.
See what hashtags are trending and what kind of content potential customers are searching for to make your posts more visible. You can do this with hashtag monitoring services such as Trendsmap (which shows trending hashtags by geographic location) or Hashtagify. Don’t jump on just any trend, though: You still need to make sure your post is relevant to that particular hashtag and that it adds value for your customers, otherwise it will get lost in a swirl of tenuously related content.
You should also do your research to be sure you’re not using a hashtag that has negative connotations. Sometimes a hashtag might be trending for the wrong reasons or is part of something you don’t want your brand even remotely tied to, so do your due diligence, read the comments, and even look up a hashtag before you use it. See how people are tagging it and what they are saying in their posts to determine whether it’s OK for your social media accounts.
Don’t make them too complex.
Hashtags that are overly long or difficult to read will not get you results. Keep them short and easy to spell to avoid any confusion. You need words or phrases that customers will quickly understand and be able to easily replicate in their own posts. This encourages a conversation and engagement with a wider online community.
Don’t use them when replying to customers.
This looks pushy and salesy. Social media is all about showing the personal, approachable side of your business and customers will be put off if all they see is a hashtagged marketing spiel. For this same reason, you should also try and limit your use of hashtags to one or two per post for platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and around 10 on Instagram for optimum engagement.
If only you use them on one platform, do it on Instagram.
On Instagram, hashtags are essential to help customers find your content and make it more shareable. You still need to keep your audience in mind though, and only share the most relevant content with customer segments who are actually on Instagram. You can read more about using hashtags with Instagram on page 62.
Make sure that you monitor analytics for your social posts, and don’t just get hung up on the number of likes your post received or the amount of new followers you’re attracting.
While these can be interesting and even encouraging metrics to track, they can give a false picture of how social media is really helping you grow your business. Ask yourself far more important questions: What were your conversion rates as a result of this post? How many people clicked through to that landing page? How many people made a booking?
There are powerful tools for tracking these types of metrics such as Google Analytics as well as social media platforms themselves. Use the feedback you gather to inform how you share your content in the future. What worked well and what didn’t? Do more of what drove the best results based on the goals you set when you planned out your content calendar.
Social media can be a powerful tool, not only when it comes to reaching new customers but for building better relationships with existing clients. Keep it simple, be selective, and do your research, and you’ll quickly start to see real results for your business. [CD1019]
Gillian Doucette is the Stategic Marketing Officer for Driveprofit. she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.