Some business owners, especially in industries like trucking, do not believe social media does, or could ever have any impact on them or their business. So, they never use it.
However, if you own a fleet of any size, a well-executed, business oriented, social media marketing strategy can help grow your business and ultimately increase your fleet’s valuation, when managed and executed strategically and efficiently.
Potential acquirers will scrutinize your social channels
Investors regularly review social media channels to research companies they are interested in acquiring. If your fleet lacks a professional, well-executed social media presence (that you control), you could risk jeopardizing your fleet’s valuation. A solid social media presence can show buyers:
- The competence of your team and its ability to implement and utilize social channels that are relevant to your business and industry niche.
- A positive snapshot of your corporate culture, because you ensure your personality and professionalism shines through on your social sites.
- The responsiveness of your team in addressing customer needs and replying to requests through social media.
- The strong industry reputation of key management presented online
- Compelling examples of your fleet’s success stories through posts on your social channels that link to a PR or news story, your blog or on LinkedIn.
How can social media increase a fleet’s valuation?
- By raising brand awareness. Social media is the most effective marketing tool marketers can utilize to raise brand recognition and awareness. Social media can boost brand favorability quickly. According to a study by Ogilvy & Mather and ChatThreads, social media appeared to have the strongest impact on shifting brand favorability higher. Most important, we find that acquirers are typically willing to pay a higher valuation for a fleet with a strong brand.
- By growing sales. Social media isn’t simply a way to reconnect with old friends. Savvy marketers (and business owners) know that the top social sites offer a variety of tools to help drive sales. A recent article on CIO.comcited three significant examples to reinforce this fact: $3 million in sales for Dell Outlet using Twitter; $2 million in sales for Starwood via one Facebook campaign; and a 1,600 percent ROI for VMware through hosting a Google+ Hangout.
Successful fleets that evolve and use new avenues to consistently expand sales are more desirable to acquirers than fleets with outmoded sales models that prove to be less and less effective. The more confident an acquirer is in your company’s future sales potential, the more likely they will be to pay a higher valuation.
- By enhancing your company’s industry reputation through thought leadership initiatives.LinkedIn tends to lead the pack as a marketing resource for B2B organizations, because the site makes it easy for individuals to connect with others in their industry. According to LinkedIn, 60 percent of the site’s membersare interested in garnering industry insights while engaging with the social channel.
LinkedIn can position your key management as thought leaders (through sharing industry insights; posting relevant, original content; initiating or commenting on LinkedIn group discussions, etc.), you can boost the reputation of both fleet’s leadership and the business itself. Investors seek out successful companies that are well known in an industry niche, and will be more likely to offer a higher valuation than they would to a similar but lesser known company.
- By improving customer service and satisfaction.The happier the customer, the more likely an enduring business-customer relationship will result. Today, 74 percent of Internet users utilize social networking sitesaccording to Pew Research. People (especially millennials and younger age groups) expect to communicate with businesses via social media.
Acquirers will monitor the social sites of fleets they are researching to see how customer service comments, inquiries and complaints are handled, as well as the frequency and type of inquiries, kudos and complaints received. If your fleet does not proactively engage with customers and address inquiries or complaints, an investor may question your ability to retain customers and repeat sales, which may compromise a favorable valuation.
- By touting your success stories.Social media offers a multitude of channels to share success stories and case studies that distinguish your fleet from others. You can distribute any success story from your website, YouTube channel, PR sites or in news stories through social channels to gain visibility and positive traction for your company.
When an investor is researching your business on social media sites, your success stories can provide an inside look at the fleet’s operations and personnel, while reinforcing your ingenuity and accomplishments. The stories might also illustrate potential synergies more clearly for strategic buyers, who could potentially offer a higher valuation.
Investor’s social eyes are on you, so get your social media plan in order
If you are considering selling all or a portion of your fleet, don’t neglect the importance of your social media presence. Acquirers will closely scrutinize information about your business (as well as the activities of your key management) on social sites. Be proactive about strategically managing your social profiles and shining a bright light on your accomplishments and capabilities. With an effective social media plan in place, you may be able to secure a higher valuation for your fleet than you ever would have imagined.