Social media as a growth strategy
The logistics and supply chain industries have been slow to join the social media bandwagon, many citing time and budget constraints as prohibiting factors. Small businesses, in particular, may find it difficult to allocate very limited resources to this task. The marketing team—or, the marketing person, as the case may be—is stretched enough as it is trying to stand out among the competition, particularly the larger companies with seemingly unlimited budgets.
It’s time small businesses stop trying to keep up with the large competitors, said Rhett Rowe, president of small-business lender Capital for Merchants, in a recent interview with Forbes. “Small companies don’t have that kind of money, time, or stamina,” he explains. “Instead, they should focus on expanding brand awareness, increasing website traffic, and building a community of loyal followers.” That’s where social media comes in.
Social media is an ideal marketing platform for small businesses because it can be relatively inexpensive but have a high impact on growth. With a targeted strategy in place and a little time, your company can cultivate your brand, engage with customers, and form business relationships. And because small companies can be nimble, you can continually adjust your strategy to ensure the return on investment keeps paying off.
You may know Coyote as the start-up that turned into a $2 billion company in less than a decade. It was just acquired by United Parcel Service in mid-August, but will operate as a separate subsidiary, “with careful attention given to supporting the unique characteristics that have enabled its success to date,” said a press release. Among those “unique characteristics” cited: “strong company culture.”
Social media has been integral in perpetuating—and drawing attention to—that culture, helping differentiate Coyote from the competition and forming relationships essential to its growth. Plus, it just looks like a fun place to work—which was key to attracting quality talent quickly as the company grew so rapidly.
The customer-centric ethos and commitment to transparency plays out in its social networking personality. “We’re not vanilla online because that wouldn’t be the Coyote way to do things,” said Arionne Nettles, former social media lead, in a 2013 interview. “Our company has four brand characteristics. ... Social media is the perfect conduit to put these attributes into action.”
The robust social media program now includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and YouTube. Considering Coyote’s rapid, headline-making growth, these platforms have played a major role in achieving that success.
It’s a similar story with 3PL and technology player Transplace, founded in 2000.
“Social media has become an integral part of our marketing and communications strategy and key to expanding our brand awareness and thought leadership in the logistics and transportation space,” says Kecia Gray, vice president of corporate marketing and communications.
Central to that strategy is creating original content for the company’s Logistically Speaking blog and sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. “By distributing this content across our social channels to foster sharing, conversation and engagement, we’ve continued to gain influence with our targeted audiences,” says Gray.
The company’s LinkedIn page, Facebook page, and blog were named as “favorites” in an industry survey conducted by Fronetics. And Transplace’s reputation as an industry leader is increasing outside the social space. Recently, the company received nine awards from logistics and technology publications, including third in the “Top 10 3PL” by Inbound Logistics and “Logistics Company of the Year” by Estrategia Aduanera, Mexico’s leading international trade magazine.
What’s more, as Transplace’s reputation continues to grow, so does the business. The company recently acquired M33 Integrated, a 3PL with a particular strength in the flexible packaging sector, making its sixth acquisition in the last five years. Impressive.
Social media has been critical to the growth of Coyote Logistics and Transplace. Does your small business have a social strategy in place?