Aviation Marketing: How to engineer a social marketing strategy

How to engineer a social marketing strategySocial marketing is not free – it requires time, money, and resources

Social marketing is an all-encompassing term that covers very specific strategies and tactics designed to engage customers and prospects. When considering the addition of social marketing into the marketing mix, it’s best to review current marketing strategy and determine where social marketing will have the greatest impact.

Aviation marketers that step into social marketing are really making a decision to become their own content producers. Implementing a successful social marketing program requires time, money, and dedicated resources. Without these, the effort will be shortlived and short on results.

Where to start

Social marketing strategy development starts with the answers to the following questions:

  • What are the goals for the social marketing program?
  • How will social marketing integrate the existing marketing program?
  • Who will lead the social marketing efforts?
  • What resources are available to ensure success?
  • How will social marketing ROI be measured?

The answers to the above questions will form the foundation of your social marketing strategy.

Below are a list of goals that can be used as thought starters when defining the goals for the program:

  • Increase the number of prospects on the sales funnel
  • Influence decision makers in an informational, non-selling manner
  • Add an interactive component to the website
  • Position executives and technical talent as experts in their field
  • Create product evangelists that recommend product or service offerings

How will social marketing integrate into the existing marketing program?

To have a holistic marketing program, a balance of outbound and inbound strategies and tactics need to be orchestrated. Relying solely on a blog to generate leads is not a good idea. However, integrating a blog on the website may be a good idea to feature technical talent, thought leadership, or respond to customer questions and comments.

Who will lead the social marketing efforts?

Social marketing cannot be relegated to the summer intern or administrative assistant. Having a Facebook page and Twitter account does not make one a social marketing expert.

Having a champion in the executive suite provides the focus, incentive, and resources to assure that quality content is being produced and tactical execution followed through.

What resources are available to ensure success?

Depending on the social marketing tactic, one may need writers, video producers, coders, designers, and/or digital media planners. Few aviation manufacturers have this type of talent on staff.  Selecting a firm that has access to this talent can provide the necessary resources to keep the program moving and cost in line.

How will social marketing ROI be measured?

Everything digital can be measured. It’s important to realize the role that social marketing plays in the overall marketing mix. Consider the customer touchpoints in the sales cycle and where social marketing can influence the sales process. A purchase inquiry may come through an email campaign, but where was the customer influenced that started the research process leading up to the purchasing inquiry?

Additional articles that may be of interest:

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Why aviation marketers struggle with digital marketing integration

Aviation Marketing: 3 ways social media can help build your brand

Aviation Marketing: Social marketing begins with the correct strategy

Scoal Marketing Strategy Labyrinth

Social marketing can build relationships during the extended sales cycle.

Today, a few innovative aviation marketers are using social marketing to extend the engagement with key constituents during the sales cycle. Relationship driven, people-to-people marketing is generating brand awareness, highlighting thought leadership, and humanizing the brand.

Why is the correct social marketing strategy important?

Because 90% of buyers start their search for an aviation product or service via a search engine, not a company website, it is imperative that marketers understand to whom they are selling and where they congregate.

In addition, social marketing has a lot of moving parts. Marketers are simultaneously engaging new customers, nurturing those further along in the sales cycle, and rewarding those that have purchased and are now brand advocates.

Creating relevant content that focuses on the purchaser’s corporate pain points requires multiple campaigns based on the sales cycle. Depending on whether the audience is an influencer or purchaser, content needs to be developed for each, addressing their concerns.

How to extend the engagement

The biggest mistake marketers make is not paying attention to the landing page. Simply making an offer for authoritative information and then linking to the corporate website is a sure fire way to end interest and engagement. Marketers should create specific landing pages for each offer, reinforcing the offer and asking the viewer to share a modest amount of information in return for the desired content.

In essence, the landing page becomes the face of the brand, delivering on the brand promise.

Different audiences, different addresses

Through social marketing listening, marketers can determine where their audiences spend most of their time and where they are likely to make the purchasing decision. Younger engineers may spend their time on Facebook checking out events at an upcoming trade show, while senior executives may be more inclined to peruse a pay-per-click link on LinkedIn.

Social media channels should be tested to determine which will be the most effective and return the best results.

Segment but don’t alienate

Different social media channels offer different ways to segment their audiences. LinkedIn, for example, allows companies to target demographics by location, job title, age and gender. While this is important, don’t alienate those that  see themselves as future key decision makers. Allow this group to participate by signing up for news updates or special invitations for future events.

Photo CC BY Flickr, photo credit Fdecomite

Aviation Marketing: 14 social marketing channels for content distribution

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Know where and how to connect with your audience.

58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketers published by the Content Marketing Institute is an e-book about selecting social marketing channels and identifying best practices of how brands use these channels to connect with their customers.  Aviation marketers should pay particular attention to aligning social media platforms with audience following. Below are findings from the e-book that are relevant for marketers in the aviation industry:

14 social marketing channels for aviation marketers

Social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, & LinkedIn
Video channels – YouTube & Vimeo
Photo sharing sites  – Instagram & Flickr
Online communities  – Pinterest, Foursquare, & Quora
Niche content sharing sites – Tumblr, StumbleUpon, & SlideShare

Top social marketing channels and tactics for aviation marketers

Facebook – Spend time posting well-edited photos and well-written copy. Volume certainly isn’t everything on Facebook; consistent quality is much more significant.

Who uses Facebook? 80% of B2B marketers, 90% of B2C marketers

Twitter – Present a consistent voice to tell the story of your industry and your brand. Including 1-3 relevant #hashtags with your tweet makes it simple for people to find your content.

Who uses Twitter? 80% of B2B marketers, 69% of B2C marketers

YouTube & Vimeo – Demonstrating your products or services in action is a much more effective way to create compelling videos than talking about what you do. Make sure embedding code is enabled, allowing other users to post your videos to their websites.

Who uses YouTube? 61% of B2B marketers, 65% of B2C marketers
Who uses Vimeo? 12% of B2B marketers, 12% of B2C marketers

LinkedIn – Company pages offer a platform to share diverse types of content; however many brands are absent on the professional network. Encourage people in your organization (especially execs) to connect their personal profiles to your brand.

Who uses LinkedIn? 83% of B2B marketers, 51% of B2C marketers

Google+ – Google+ gives you the ability to create a mixed page experience. Take advantage of it by posting links, text, photos, videos, and infographics for a content abundant page.

Who uses Google+? 39% of B2B marketers, 41% of B2C marketers

Pinterest – Instead of a lone product image or a posed staff picture, show your product or team in action for an image with more personality. Also, if you have a strong repertoire of video content, use Pinterest to drive traffic back to your website or YouTube channel.

Who uses Pinterest? 26% of B2B marketers, 35% of B2C marketers

StumbleUpon – Posting content on StumbleUpon is the way to gain more authority for your links. Place a Stumble button on your content. A few shares from active users could translate to new, targeted traffic for your content.

Who uses StumbleUpon? 10% of B2B marketers, 9% of B2C marketer

SlideShare – SlideShare offers simpler viewing than a PDF in Adobe Reader, doesn’t require a download, is easy to track and measure, and offers a better organic search presence that’s independent of your website.

Who uses SlideShare? 23% of B2B marketers, 7% of B2C marketers

To download the complete 58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketers published by the Content Marketing Institute, click here

photo credit: redteam via photopin cc

Aviation Marketing: 10-reasons why social marketing efforts fail

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Successful social marketing requires dedicated resources and support from Leadership

Strike up a conversation about social marketing with senior leadership and chances are they will roll their eyes and tell you a story about someone posting something to a Facebook page. The reality is that very few understand how to implement or integrate social marketing within established marketing channels.

10 reasons why social marketing efforts fail:

  1. Leadership is comprised of non-marketers. Face it, very few in the leadership suite have come from the marketing side these days. Because social marketing moves at such a fast pace, they have not kept up with new platforms and strategies for customer engagement.
  2. Mindset that social marketing does not apply to the aviation industry. This is a baby boomer perception. Generation X and Y entering the workforce today have grown up with social marketing and use it to make informed decisions.
  3. Underestimation of time and resources needed. Social marketing is about delivery of valuable content. There is no button on the keyboard that magically produces content. Authorative content is developed from research, customer insight, and the creativity of content developers.
  4. Are not staffed with the skill set. The administrative assistant or college intern is not trained to write for the web or develop engagement strategies.
  5. No clear responsibility. Social marketing is a joint effort by everyone in the organization.  If there is not a leader with access to the executive suite, then social marketing will take a back seat to other departmental priorities.
  6. No content strategy. Posting bits of news feeds, pictures of the company  picnic or articles from trade journals does not define a leadership position. Valuable content is based on industry knowledge and customer insight.
  7. No strategic plan. Jumping straight into tactical execution is a recipe for a short social marketing experiment. What are you trying to accomplish? How will you get there? How will you define success?
  8. No library of content to work with. This is probably the quickest way to short-circuit a social marketing effort. Without a library to draw from, the pressure to constantly produce content will sap energy and lead to burnout.
  9. Valuable content is buried in email archives. Adopting a different way to share and access information across the entire organization requires investment in different processes and platforms than are currently in use.
  10. No ROI data chains. Management won’t support anything for very long without a way to determine if it’s working or what resources should be allocated toward it.

Aviation manufacturers that have implemented successful social marketing programs have had to adopt a different point-of-view about marketing in the digital age. Engagement, conversation, and content are the new currency for gaining access to customers.

Additional article that may be of interest on this topic:

https://baileyburk.com/2012/08/28/aviation-marketing-social-media-is-not-going-away/

https://baileyburk.com/2012/06/18/aviation-marketing-digital-adoption-and-content-creation/

https://baileyburk.com/2012/05/31/aviation-marketing-why-marketing-fundamentals-are-important-in-social-media-marketing/

I’m interested in hearing from my fellow aviation marketers. What have been your greatest challenges in implementing social marketing? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Aviation Marketing: 10 ways to build a following for your blog

Share your post on social networks

Aviation marketers can use social networks and key word optimization to increase their blog following.

Blogging with no followers is like the sound of one hand clapping. Building a following can be time consuming and resource intensive. Below are 10 tactics for gaining traction and building a solid community of followers.

10 tactics to increase your blog following:

    1. Be an expert in your subject: make sure your core topic has not been extensively covered elsewhere on the web.
    2. Create a professional presence: first impressions and functionality contribute to the users’ experience. If you are not familiar with landing page design, find someone who is.
    3. Have content ready to go: being under the gun to produce content leads to writer’s block and uninteresting subject matter. Have at least 30 blogs ready to publish before launching your blog site.
    4. Keyword optimization is essential: search engine optimization for keywords helps drive traffic. Invest time and resources in learning Google-friendly optimization. When in doubt, seek professional advice.
    5. Use social networks: make a point of tweeting about every post and sharing it on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and post to their discussion boards.
    6. Use your contacts: review your email list and address book for followers. Send an email to them with a link to your blog post.
    7. Add the blog link to your email signature: give more people the opportunity to find your blog site.
    8. Use social sharing: post your blog posts to Stumble Upon and Mashable to increase the reach of your postings.
    9. Comment on other people’s blogs and articles:

seek out people that are writing about similar subjects, and comment with a link back to your blog.

  1. Monitor your analytics: monitoring your analytics will tell you what’s working and what’s not resonating with your audience. Blog posts with higher analytics numbers indicate topics your readers are interested in.

I’m interested in hearing from my fellow aviation marketers. What has been your best tactic to increase blog readership? Please share your experiences and most successful tactics in the comment section below.

The changing role of Public Relations in aviation marketing

Jet Blue external communications

Public Relations should be viewed as a tool for engagement and brand building.

At the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (4As) PR conference, industry thought leaders and influencers came together to provide their views on emerging trends influencing PR in the digital age.

I want to recognize 4A’s information specialists Rebecca Samson and Christine Pelosi for pooling their impressions from the conference and drafting their original observation document. Below is my interpretation of these themes and how they could affect aviation marketers.

From Jet Blue to Google to IBM, three areas emerged that aviation marketers should consider when developing public relations and social media plans.

The power of the influencer

Thomas Gensemer, Managing Partner, Blue State Digital, focused on changing role of today’s influencers. No longer are celebrities and urban cities setting the trends. Influencers can come from anywhere, aided by accessibility and quick distribution models of social media.

Gensemer cited 3 factors involved when conducting a campaign to embrace influencers:

  1. Participation: Encourage supporters to become involved in a campaign using real-time and digital events.
  2. Integration: Integrating both traditional and digital media into the campaign allows the brand message to reach the largest possible audience.
  3. Celebration: Social media has given fans a chance to enter the conversation and have a hand in trend-setting.

Transparency builds the brand

Jet Blue communications team attributes the airline’s focus on transparency, both internally and externally, as one of the key factors responsible for building the Jet Blue brand.

Externally, Jet Blue has an excellent crisis management strategy in which it responds quickly and truthfully to issues while updating information frequently, using multiple social media platforms and networks.

Internally, Jet Blue practices open communication between management and employees. By implementing companywide email, internal Facebook pages, and having a CEO actively posting to his Twitter account, Jet Blue engages employees in day-to-day issues. Such transparency enables employees at all levels to become brand stewards.  They are trained on the Jet Blue brand story, empowering them with knowledge to serve their customers as the company serves its employees.

Telling your story through brand journalism

Ingrid Bernstein, Director of Experience at J. Walter Thompson (JWT), touched on the theme of brand journalism. Digital distribution has created a world of fast news cycles, decreased attention spans, and brands have less control over their story.

Ingrid suggested that, in response to these factors, brands practice brand journalism – an editorial approach to brand-building that uses journalistic practices and assumes non-fiction stories can be more interesting than fictional ones. The goal of brand journalism isn’t to sell products but rather the brand’s expertise.

9 rules for brand journalism:

  1. Access = success. Give people access to the story behind the scenes.
  2. Don’t be afraid to show difficulty.  Obstacles can be framed as opportunities for transformation.
  3. Drama comes from conflict. Setting up tension gives people a stake in the story, driving engagement.
  4. Transparency is powerful. Transparency is a storytelling device influencing the emotional connection with the brand.
  5. Embrace the trolls. Listening to and engaging your detractors can help develop the brand story.
  6. Identify and follow characters. You may not know who they are, but always be on the lookout for them.
  7. Show passionate customers. Integrate brand advocates into your story.
  8. Leverage good news. Connect with the news cycle and be responsive.
  9. Create an empowered approval team. Develop a rapid approval process with high-level executive involvement.

To view the research insight report, click on the following link: “Observations from the 4A’s 2012 PR Conference.”

photo credit: baratunde via photo pin cc

Aviation Marketing: Effective social media begins with the purchasing process

Its important to understand where in the purchasing process social media can deliver the greatest impact.

“Demystifying Social Media,” published by McKinnsey Quarterly, reports on how executives can harness social media to shape the customer buying decision in predictable ways.

My interpretation of the report for aviation marketers focuses on where in the considered purchase process social media may have the greatest influence on the purchasing decision for aviation products and services.

A majority of aviation marketing executives understand what social media is and its ability to amplify word-of-mouth effects. However, most struggle with how to harness the power of social media for their brand.

4 primary functions of social media:

  1. Monitor – Listening to what customers and prospects in the aviation community are saying about your brand.
  2. Respond – Ability to respond to specific conversations on a personal level to provide customer service, to sales opportunities, or for crisis communication management.
  3. Amplify – Designing marketing activities to have a “social motivator” that encourages engagement and sharing.
  4. Lead – Leading customers and purchase influencers toward long-term behavioral changes in the early stages of the purchasing decision.

Social media is transforming the purchasing funnel from a linear process of awareness, consideration, trial, and purchase to a multi-touchpoint process of:

  • Consider – Initial phase of purchasing process where referrals and recommendations can sway brand consideration.
  • Evaluate –Review postings and blogs pertaining to the product’s features, benefits, and performance.
  • Purchase – Online and offline purchasing experience, either direct or through distributors.
  • Experience – Customer perception after the sale, fostering participation in communities to discuss product functionality, installation, or potential new applications.
  • Advocate – Customer’s active endorsement of the brand to the community and peers within the industry, through “likes” and other rating protocol.
  • Bond – Customers’ recognition by the brand to receive special offers or other preferential treatment.

Identifying which touchpoint of the considered purchase provides the most benefit to the brand in terms of influencing purchase behavior is essential to develop the data chains for measuring social media’s effect as it drives purchasing behavior.

For aviation marketers, this means knowing the brand’s “conversation potential” at critical touchpoints and determining which one will yield the greatest influence on purchasing behavior.

For example, giving your customers an opportunity to comment and rate your product on your webpage may strategically yield more influence on purchasing behavior than a “like” on a Facebook page.

Taking the time to build the social media hook at the front end of concept development will help integrate social media with overall marketing strategy and bring efficiency to the marketing process.

To view the complete McKinsey Quarterly report click on the following article title: “Demystifying Social Media

photo credit: Kevin Micalizzi via photopin cc