Commentary | 3PL Line

Using Social Media to Your Advantage in Transportation and Logistics

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Bobby Harris is CEO, BlueGrace Logistics, 813-645-3100

With more than one billion people using social networks today, social media is forging a new era in business opportunity and engagement, creating two-way communication that enables customer feedback and response in real-time. As the transportation and logistics sector grows, it is essential to work strategically to leverage technology and media to drive efficiencies and connect with core audiences, partners, and clients.

The bridge between social media and the transportation and logistics sector is natural: both depend on mobile technology to function.

Social media is simply another form of marketing — a tool that should be used as an extension of your plan to support your goals and objectives. Logistics has always been a driver of new technology for operational excellence, and with social media, there is an opportunity to drive technology for marketing and communication excellence.

A variety of ways exist to utilize social media for increasing your marketing efforts' effectiveness, but companies should handle social media efforts thoughtfully and implement them strategically. Simply setting up a company Facebook page will achieve little to no results — it's all about the work you put into it.

When deciding which social media platforms you will use and who will be involved, you must understand how your current client and employee base is engaging on social media. Do your carriers regularly use Facebook? Are your clients on Twitter?

You also need to determine who you want to market to, why you want to market or engage with them, how you will market to each set of people, and which tools you will use to reach them. These decisions aren't made overnight; it is a complex process, as is any facet of a solid marketing plan.

Connect Via Content

Facebook and Twitter are great ways to connect, but the key to achieving results with these outlets is creating content that inspires and connects your audience to you and your brand, and engaging with your audience regularly. It is a good idea to establish a social media expert by hiring someone internally or outsourcing this position. This person ensures your social media strategy will be executed thoroughly and any issues can be addressed promptly.

The top search engine after Google is YouTube. Video is one of the best ways to connect to your customers and prospects. People in the transportation and logistics industry buy from people, and video is as close as you can get to face-to-face without physically being present. Video is a great way for potential clients to understand your services and business model, and to continually engage current clients. It's also a great way to build trust and communicate your strategy to potential carriers and partners.

Not only does social media provide a platform to engage with your core audiences, but it also provides an opportunity for employees to engage and deliver on your brand promise inside and outside of the company. In the transportation and logistics sector, your audience is on social media, and you and your employees should be, too.

Social media can be fun, open, and embedded within companies' corporate culture, with customers, service partners, and employees all connected. This noticeably improves employee morale and retention, resulting in dramatically reduced training expenses. If you decide to have an open social media policy, however, it is important to have guidelines in place to set employee expectations of the trust you instill in them while representing your brand.

Social media is not only a place to represent your brand and position yourself as an expert in transportation and logistics in front of your carriers and clients, but it is an outlet to connect with the community, further enhancing your reputation. Find a local cause to connect with, and get your team involved. This will allow you to reap the rewards of increased loyalty and brand recognition while making a difference in the community.

A realm of opportunity exists for professionals in the transportation and logistics sector to utilize social media as a key component of an existing marketing platform, but social media strategy should be taken seriously.

You have one chance to make a first impression, and you'll want to do it right by branding yourself properly on social media networks, providing insightful content, and engaging thoroughly and appropriately.

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