How are we doing with the strategy of applying social media and its associated technology to communicate to the market?
That decision led to the launch of www.PlaneConversations.com on October 5th. We have to date published 136 posts and I thought it might not be a bad idea to let my fellow aviators know how we are doing in this new work.
We have tried to communicate relevant ideas and thoughts on what is going on in both the General Aviation and the Airline Industries. We have voiced our opinions and a few have listened. Some days have been good and some days not.
Here are a few things we have learned so far:
- Although free, for the most part, social media takes time because, ultimately, it is about communications. As we started communicating to the market and to our peers, we had to take the time to think about what we wanted to say and we had to take the time to listen to what everyone else was saying. So, free isn’t really free.
- We have met people, built relationships and had conversations that, without the use of social media, would never have happened. We can no more assign a monetary value those relationships than we can assign one to friends and family. Instead of constantly thinking about what it will do for our business, we have learned just to focus on getting to know people and whatever happens, happens.In any case, by developing these relationships we have been enriched, we have grown and we have benefited. Hopefully those we get to know will benefit as well.
- We have learned that there are voices out there speaking passionately about general aviation and about the value proposition of flying in one’s own aircraft or in a business jet. Compared to the total population of general aviation businesses, the number of voices is small, but it is growing and new voices are heard each week.
- We have learned that it is not about accumulating Twitter followers or Facebook fans. Amassing numbers of followers does not translate into sales or some type of return on investment. It is about the quality of the relationships built and not about the quantity of “followers.”
- We have seen that our counterparts at the airlines have still chosen, for the most part, to remain disengaged from the conversation. They are still using the traditional models of big media, PR machines and for-hire voices to sell their message. I don’t see any high level airline executives talking directly to the market and engaging. Will they wake up or not? Time will tell, but so far they are still hiding under the rock.
I am not sure how many hours I have personally spent writing, researching and conversing with people but it would be hundreds of hours by now. Writing a blog while leading a business in an industry that has been in economic crisis mode for 18 months has not been easy. I gave up an extra hour or two of sleep each day to keep my writing from interfering with the day to day task of keeping our company going and succeeding. Some days it started to seem like work but most days it was more like fun and the passion to communicate has grown as I have pressed on. I believe it has made me a better communicator to those with whom I was already regularly communicating- fellow employees, customers and vendors. They may or may not agree with that. If they don’t agree, they have ample opportunity to let me know. That is what being social is all about, yes?
So, is the social media effort worth it? Yes, it is. Has it made our business better? Has it given me a better understanding of the market and those we want to reach? Yes, it has! Am I able to translate it into an ROI or quantify the results financially? Not yet, I can’t. However, time will tell; so, give it a year and we will see!