How Social Media Has Impacted The 3PL Industry  

Social media marketing for 3PLs

The logistics industry relies heavily on technology for everything from route planning to rate calculations and load optimization to shipment tracking. Customers also use technology, both in business and in their personal lives. Smart Insights reports that many users access their social media accounts up to 10 times a day, most days of the week.

Social media is one of the hottest technology areas in marketing, and many customers and prospects check social media before making a purchase, both to get a feel for the company and to see what existing customers have to say.

Companies in all industries use social media to connect with their customers on a frequent basis. It can be ideal for introducing new products and services, explaining parts of an offering and gaining credibility as a subject matter expert in your area. For a 3PL, having an effective and credible social media presence is the best way to show customers that your team is comfortable using technology, a critical measure of 3PL service.

Effectively using social media enables the 3PL to gain customer intimacy by monitoring customer sentiment in response to its own efforts as well as what customers say about competitors. First, however, you need to discover which social media sites your customers use most. Once you know that, the insight gleaned from this dialog can pinpoint gaps in services and areas ripe for improvement.

However, social media is an active activity. Unlike the ballfield in “Field of Dreams,” if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. You must provide a reason for them to visit or follow your social media efforts, and that requires regular commitment. Your first decision when you decide to enter the realm of social media is to establish a cadence for posting new content. Whether you choose to post daily, weekly or biweekly is less important than keeping a schedule of which your followers can rely.

Content is the means to drive traffic, but not all content is created equal. There are important steps that you must follow to keep readers interested:

  1. Don’t make your posts all about you or your services. If followers find your posts are all self-serving, they will stop following you quickly. It’s OK to make some posts about you, but most experts recommend no more than one out of every five to 10 posts be exclusively about your services.
  2. Vary topics. One post might be about upcoming legislation that affects the transportation or marking of certain goods, while the next might be an explanation of how the customer benefits from cross docking and how to get started. The important thing is that the topics are of interest to customers, and that your content provides new and interesting insight.
  3. You can also adopt a theme to drive traffic. For example, if you specialize in handling chemicals, periodically post about green efforts in the chemical industry. You might decide to post occasionally about “last mile” delivery experiments, such as drone delivery, Uber-like services or pickup depots for e-commerce purchases. Readers who are interested in the topic of your theme will come back again and again, especially as your posts gain a reputation for smart content.
  4. Avoid fluff. Fluff is any content that doesn’t include real insight, expertise, research or a strong point of view. You will not build a reputation as an expert with this type of content.
  5. Make it credible. Include research from recognized authorities such as industry trade groups or research firms to support your position.
  6. Spelling, grammar and formatting matter. Be sure content is edited and professional, otherwise this hinders credibility.

Aberdeen Research reports that industry leaders increased the number of 3PLs they worked with by 20 percent in 2014. The Aberdeen report attributes this to strategic choices to fill coverage gaps. The finding suggests that firms are looking for increased connectivity and better flow of information, so the market is clearly looking for technical expertise in its choice of a 3PL.

Social media marketing is a way to attract companies searching for new 3PL partners while at the same time demonstrating familiarity with industry issues and technology. Your competition is using social media. You should too.

Jaime McLiverty is Director of Marketing at Unyson. She joined the team in 2007, and has developed a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs of clients. McLiverty is responsible for providing internal and external communications on the customized solutions and guaranteed savings Unyson provides. She received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Human Resources from Virginia Tech.

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