e - Media: A look at Web-based customer service and marketing solutions

Twitter: A free social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read ‘tweets’ (text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as ‘followers’).

• Aviation Business Consultants International Inc. (ABCI) has been in business since 2005 specializing in cost-effective marketing plans, including online and social media marketing, for the aviation industry. Specific services performed by the company include:

- Online marketing consulting and evaluation;
- Complete marketing plans (including print, radio, television, trade shows, and online);
- Marketing project management;
- Social media marketing;
- Search engine optimization;
- Email marketing campaigns and autoresponders;
- and writing articles, white papers, and e-books.

Marketing consultant Paula Williams has been with ABCI Inc. since 2007 and is charged with the management of online sales and marketing campaigns for aviation-related companies.

According to Williams, what the company does is take customers who sell to people in the aviation industry and determine where their customers are. “A lot of them are utilizing social media,” relates Williams.

“The main thing regarding social media,” she says, “is you have to have something to talk about other than the direct sell; some value to offer that facilitates the establishment of quality relationships before the product is introduced.”

Typically the advocates of social media tend not to be the high-level executive desicionmakers for a particular company, remarks Williams. In terms of getting those executives involved in a conversation about utilizing social media, she says advocates must relate the return on investment. They can do this by showcasing studies that demonstrate social media as another communication channel for reaching a target market or audience.

Embracing twitter
At a minimum, says Williams, companies should be monitoring social networking platforms to see what is said about a particular company or product. “Whether or not you choose to actively participate, most companies pay for the kind of market research that Twitter can provide for free,” relates Williams.

“I search for company and product names for each of my clients, and I provide reports and alerts. Some clients want to know about a product class like ‘helicopters,’ others would like to know if competitors are being mentioned in the network feeds.”

Adds Williams, “Publishing information about your company and products can be very effective with Twitter.”

Including a reference and a link to an article can ensure that information reaches a large audience virally, says Williams. It is common for Twitter users to pass along relevant information by ‘re-tweeting,’ or copying tweets to their own Twitter feed(s).

“If you’re going through the effort of publishing articles, news releases, blog entries, or other material, you can maximize your investment in those materials by including Twitter in your publishing and distribution campaign,” says Williams.

Twitter can also be used as an ongoing conversational resource, comments Williams. Twitter conversations occur via instant messaging. On Twitter, the conversation becomes public, “and may engage the interest of others beyond a conversation’s original participants,” says Williams.

“More participants are a marketer’s dream, but could be a legal department’s nightmare. It’s important to be sure that staff members who participate in Twitter have a good grasp on the company’s public objectives and a good set of guidelines to determine the best course of action.”

Social Media at the Aviation Industry Expo 2010
This year’s annual Aviation Industry Expo will feature the business seminar: “Hey, Let Me Try Some of That Marketing!” The seminar will be presented by ABCI Inc.’s Williams, and Gerry Whitty, projects director for AIRPORT BUSINESS sister division Cygnus Custom Marketing Group.

The seminar is scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 18, from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center; Las Vegas, NV. For more information on the 2010 Aviation Industry Expo, visit www.aviationindustryexpo.com.

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