Clients and prospects often ask if social media should be a part of their marketing programs. This should be an easy one to answer due to the reality of social media’s rise in our constantly connected lives, but we would not be giving our best advice unless we did our research to understand if these channels are truly effective for reaching audiences in the aerospace market.For clarification, when we reference social media, we are talking about channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. There are more, but let’s start with these.
Many A&D companies are using social media as part of their marketing outreach. Both big brands like GE Aviation, Boeing, Airbus – and smaller companies are making an effort to incorporate these channels to some extent into their promotional mix. To help determine if you should use any of these channels, you should start by evaluating each one.
Here are some actions you can take to help you evaluate:
- Look at what similar companies are doing in each space (what type of posts or advertising are they leveraging and what engagement are they getting in return?)
- Educate yourself on each channels best practices, can you align your resources to support?
- Research the available audiences in each channel. Are they the users you want/need to reach?
LinkedIn Example: Let’s say you offer aerospace products and target engineers as your decision makers or influencers in the buying process. Experience tells us that aerospace engineers engage on LinkedIn, which makes sense due to the nature of its professional approach to content.
While most view LinkedIn primarily as a recruitment tool, it can also be used to find contacts that are relevant to your market and to reach these decisions makers via LinkedIn marketing solutions. One simple search of the terms “aerospace engineer” yields over 5,000 contacts within LinkedIn. A search for “aerospace engineers” in the LinkedIn Groups shows over 100 results and some groups show members that range over 1,000.
Facebook Example: Your company offers services to the General Aviation market and you are targeting pilots and/or aircraft owners as your primary decision makers. Looking at Facebook when setting up a campaign to reach this audience, we can easily see that “Pilot” alone results in over 44 million users with interest in this topic.
To further refine our results, we altered our search term to be more specific by adding “aircraft” before “pilot” resulting in 112,000+ users.
Depending on your strategy of targeting and influence, you can also look at "Fixed Wing Aircraft" and see over 16 million who have expressed an interest.
An added benefit of targeting with Facebook, if it’s appropriate for your audience, is that you can access Instagram users as well with the same ad promotion.
Now let’s look at Instagram. Instagram has not only recently announced their rise to 1 billion in worldwide monthly active users, but is also known as a great social channel for things that are visually exciting. To determine if this channel is right for you start with some keyword searches in hashtag format.
Instagram Example: A simple search on #pilot returned multiple variations of the keyword but also shows counts for the posts using that hashtag.
When we think of all of the other marketing channels (i.e., email marketing, trade shows, etc.) that are successful for our industry, combined with low resources, our first recommendation is always to choose channels that will help boost sales first and foremost. A social media presence can improve your brand awareness and create some loyalty, though this should only be selected if that’s a primary goal for the business.
If you do choose to invest in social media, BDN recommends the following tips to ensure you maximize every effort:
- Determine who is accountable for each channel and the approval process for posting content
- Develop a documented social media strategy
- Start with building out company pages in each appropriate channel
- Build some historical content so the page doesn’t look brand new when opened
- Chart out a cadence calendar for posting content
- Create relevant content, do not just publish news releases
- Select a platform to automate these efforts across your channels and put a plan in place to track metrics. Check out some great tools here.
Careful strategy mapping and planning will help to optimize your investment of time and money.
One more piece of advice: should you choose to invest your highly valuable time and resources into social media, take advantage of everything the channels have to offer. Don’t just put up a post or two every other month. Get involved with groups, post and publish article content, try some display advertising, and engage with other aerospace companies as well. This will help to get them to engage with you and build your audience and following too.
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