Social Media and Aviation
It is a conversation I have with my team often, mostly as they look at me with concern as I’m kicked back at my desk on my phone and a half-read article displayed on my desktop. One of them will finally speak, “Tom, are you going to do something? Or, you know, call some people?”
The short answer is yes, I will, eventually, but I’m left alone after I explain that the article, photo, or tweet I just posted is getting a response from the community and I need to engage. Or, once I show them that one of those post has reached fifty people in the past hour as compared to the, maybe, ten calls I could make in that time.
And hey, sometimes I even get a response!
The reality of it is that social media allows companies, brands, and users to reach more people in less time. While it is true that the quality of the experience on calls I don’t get hung up on is greater, but it is also more time consuming.
That may be alright for a software company, but for an established FBO, managers don’t have the time to ask their employees to research and make calls to new clients, and why would they? They have a business to run. It is a better use of company time to focus a FBO’s marketing efforts in the very place that their clients look for them, online.
The industry is heavily focused around community and reputation, and for decades FBO’s were discovered largely through word of mouth and relationships began through positive experiences on site. That may have worked in the past, but in the age of information a strong social media presence can be the difference between a new client fueling at your FBO or watching them taxi toward your competition.
Too often when I am doing my research on an FBO I see their name on Google or AirNav with only one or two reviews. In this case, even one negative comment can steer potential clients away from your FBO, but, if there are only one or two negative comments among another twenty positive experiences than they are more easily overlooked.
A key note here is to ask your clients to leave positive reviews online, and if they won’t naturally, than offer them some sort of incentive to do so, be it a small discount or comped simple service. Trust me, the positive review online is worth more than a free newspaper or bag of ice.
As a cold caller reaching out to prospective clients I see these displays as a red-flag, and think to myself one of two things, “Jeeze this FBO really needs help,” or in a more extreme case, “Are they even going to be receptive if I call?”
Now, imagine what possible customers think when they see the same information while trying to decide what FBO to give them service.
Reviews aside, it is important to pay close attention to the narrative and culture your FBO portrays online. The common trend I see with FBO’s are that they have simple one or two-page websites with limited information and layouts that are little more than walls of text with peppered breaks consisting of contact information or fuel prices and services. The layouts in these cases are altogether outdated, clustered, and unappealing.
Many of these FBO’s have no presence on any other platform such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter as well, which limits their reach.
While lacking a solid presence on social media is generally a negative thing, a strong web page is more than enough to make up for it. So make sure yours is up to date and modern!
If the only portal to communicate with an FBO is a limited web page that hasn’t been updated since the 90’s than a customer will readily find it possible that the rest of the organization has fallen behind as well.
While word of mouth is free and often the most trusted form of advertisement, and you may always strive to give a positive experience on site, if customers are bypassing you because of a poor social presence than you never have the opportunity to make a positive impression.
There are tons of free website builders offering your FBO ready-made templates that can be filled in with your information and published in minutes, so don’t limit yourself due to fear of change.
With an appealing website your FBO will stand out above the competition and appeal to the eye of the modern consumer. Information can be neatly formatted and displayed, and even a mom-and-pop organization can present themselves as an enterprise-level company with ease.
From there, it is easy to link your website to a social platform like Facebook or Twitter if you choose to explore those avenues. Not only would interacting with users and other companies in the industry boost your social influence but it also gives prospective customers a chance to see your company's culture and keep up to date with the happenings at your FBO.
Looking past the base improvements to the appearance of your online platforms, social engagement will boost the credibility of your organization to clients who have never touched down with you. It can even help change the minds of clients who had a previously negative experience with your FBO after they see shifts in how your FBO operates.
So, take this into consideration, increasing the visual appeal of your website will rank you above the competition. While that is important, what will become the lifeblood of your company will be acquiring new and maintaining existing client relationships online as a supplement to your face-to-face experience. Being able to publish higher quality content onto your site that will add credibility to your FBO as well, which is a huge plus.
It all revolves around creating a world class experience catered to the needs of your clients.
That experience often begins before the call to your FBO is even made, so ensure that your web page and social platforms are telling the public that you are the voyager-class FBO at your airport and you will be leagues above the rest.