It is hard to believe that a year has gone by since I sat in on a presentation on Social Media in Transportation at the 2011 SMC3 Winter Conference. This past week David Tuttle, VP, Digital Strategy at TMP Worldwide (who spoke last year) was back again and joined by Bobby Harris, President and CEO of BlueGrace Logistics. In the short space of 12 months it is clear that social media have exploded in popularity.
Here are a few statistics to reinforce this message. There are 800 million global profiles on Facebook, Twitter has 175 million users and LinkedIn has 150 million profiles. Facebook reaches 85% of logistics professionals on the internet – over 2.8 million people; Twitter reaches over 22% of logistics professionals on the internet; LinkedIn Reaches 19% of logistics professionals on the Internet.
Beyond the impressive user numbers, there appear to be two breakthroughs this year. The first is in functionality. Companies and individuals are now starting to figure out how to embed the capabilities of social media in their businesses.
David highlighted the “follow me” feature on LinkedIn. It allows people to stay up-to-date on employment opportunities and organizational changes at companies of interest. Your “career page” beside your “company page” is a powerful tool to “inform active and passive candidates” of opportunities. It can be used to “see who is following your company and send automatic updates.” Twitter can be custom branded and used both as a tool to communicate with your followers and to follow them as well.
David also noted that a Facebook page for your business, with photos that tie in to the website or other business activities, can play a key role. Targeted ads can be placed on the right side of the Facebook page and can be tailored to the specific demographics and interests of your customers. Each company pays for these ads on a CPC basis. He also spoke about the importance of scheduling your communication over a period of time to maintain the attention of your fans and followers. Take advantage of opportunities to connect directly with your fans.
The second breakthrough has to do with the relationship between social media and company culture. In his presentation, Bobby Harris called social media the “DNA of the BlueGrace culture.” One of the important points he made in his presentation is “Don’t do Social, Be Social.” He stressed the point that it is not just about creating a profile on Linkedin or Facebook; it is about making social media an integral part of your business.
At BlueGrace Logistics, employees are encouraged to use social media internally. As Bobby said, “people buy from people.” As a result, the company is very focused on the demographics of their clients. Their social media use (e.g. supporting local causes in the community, UFC sponsorship) is aligned with the demographics and interests of their client base. Bobby Harris is able to speak directly to his 100 plus employees with his regular YouTube videos. The BlueGrace strategy is not just focused on improving employee morale; it is designed to improve the company’s bottom line. By being an active social media participant, this increases the company’s brand awareness, humanizes the company’s image, provides superior customer service and produces tighter links with partners and customers.
One of the pathways to success is to establish a social media point person in each company and to actively measure results. Both gentlemen offered some unique insights on a communication tool that is growing in importance on a daily basis.