Samuel Oliva is the founder and CEO of Beacon Funding, an equipment leasing company for the past 27 years. Simultaneously, he has also served as a managing partner for ECS Financial Services for the past 39 years.
With social media becoming a larger part of how we interact on the internet, it is important for equipment leasing companies to focus on improving their footprint in this area. Samuel N. Oliva of ECS Financial Services discusses and advises how companies can do just that.
Over the past 10 years, social media and digital marketing have become necessary tools for businesses of all types. For leasing companies in particular, building a positive and pervasive presence on social media and the internet can have a significant impact on many aspects of the business. In addition to reaching prospects, customers, new markets and business partners, it can contribute to the image your company projects to potential employees, funding sources, equity investors, bankers, merger and acquisition firms, and more.
That being said, most equipment leasing companies today are not doing enough to cultivate and leverage a positive digital presence. When someone searches for your company online, what do they see? Your website? Your social media accounts? A long list of relevant sites, but nothing specific to your firm? First impressions matter, and these results are often a key determinant in whether a viewer has a positive or negative reaction.
Our firm, which has been in the equipment leasing business for over 27 years, works hard to maintain a favorable image of who we are online and through social media. We have a dedicated employee who implements our social media strategy, making sure our site places highly in organic search results while projecting a favorable portrait of our firm.
Over the years, we have learned a few best practices about how leasing companies should approach social media and the internet. The following is a list of what we feel are some of the most important digital outreach channels for the industry, how we use them, and why we feel they are important.
Facebook: We post relevant content to Facebook several times a week, including customer testimonials, firm events, information about upcoming trade shows, industry-related articles, employee anniversaries, firm outings and more. We feel that these posts are important because they provide industry and customer-specific information that is of use to our audience while also demonstrating our firm’s culture, values, knowledge, and industry involvement. These posts give the viewer an idea of who we are and what we know, while showing our commitment to our customers, staff, and industry.
Glassdoor: Glassdoor is a site that allows current and former employees to post anonymous company reviews on a variety of topics, including corporate culture, salaries, CEO reviews and more. The review can also include a rating of the company, similar to how Yelp works, and can range from one to five stars. For instance, our company currently shows a 4.7-star rating with 57 reviews submitted by our current and former employees, of which 96% would recommend our company to a friend and 98% approve of our CEO. Keep in mind that when a prospective employee searches for your leasing company online, Glassdoor will almost certainly appear in the first page of organic results. Due to this positioning, it can be one of the first and most important sources of information used in deciding whether your company is somewhere desirable to work. In fact, during recent interviews we have received countless positive comments regarding our Glassdoor ratings in comparison to our peers. Candidates are paying attention to this information, and I can easily say that our Glassdoor ratings have influenced numerous top candidates to accept positions at our company.
Better Business Bureau: The Better Business Bureau posts online business profiles that include the number of years in business, management information, negative and positive reviews, contact information, and a composite rating that ranges from A+ to F. The Better Business Bureau itself has been around for generations, so most consumers and businesses understand its purpose and treat it as a credible source of information. Due to its size and popularity, this site will almost always show up on the first page of organic search results when you do a simple search of a company name. Needless to say, it is important to monitor your BBB online account periodically for inaccuracies and reviews. A quick look at several well-known equipment leasing companies reveals hundreds of complaints and negative reviews. If this is the case for your equipment leasing company, you may need to change your practices, solicit positive reviews from satisfied customers, provide rebuttals to these negative reviews and/or work with the BBB to adjust erroneous information. Otherwise, this negative information will be among the first things potential customers learn about your business when searching online.
YouTube: Yes, YouTube is a place to watch funny videos, but it has also established itself as an important social media platform for business purposes as well. Our firm regularly posts videos on YouTube that target our customers and niche industries, keeping our audience informed of our presence and products. As on Facebook, YouTube allows users to target videos to those industry viewers who are most likely to be interested in your video posts. The content mix can include testimonials, new technology announcements, industry-related training videos and more. Additionally, you can invite customers to “subscribe” to your channel, allowing them to receive updates every time you post something new. Users can favorite your videos and comment on them, which provides a channel for your company to positively respond and interact. Each of our videos are then included, and easily accessed, on our company website.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is not only a powerful tool for targeted talent acquisition, but also an important conduit for lead generation, brand building, and making industry connections. Our call center regularly uses LinkedIn to identify the decision makers in our niche industries so that they are not wasting time calling someone who is not in a position to make a decision on our product. This, along with the videos and articles we have posted on LinkedIn, has led to several of our most significant business deals and relationships. For leasing companies, it is important to not only maintain a presence on LinkedIn but also to actively post, comment, and interact with others in the industry. You never know where your next business lead is going to come from, but more and more of ours are coming from LinkedIn every month.
Twitter: One of the niche industries that our firm operates in is embroidery equipment, where a strong community exists that uses Twitter regularly. As a result, we use Twitter ourselves to reach the decision makers in this niche. In fact, we have found that sending personal messages to our customers and/or vendors through this channel is an ideal way to strengthen our relationships. It also allows us to remind our vendors and customers that we appreciate them and that we are still here. Twitter also allows us to view customer feedback, both positive and negative, on key competitors in our niche that can prove useful when in head-to-head competition and also when making adjustments to maintain our edge in the industry.
This is just a brief list of the most applicable social media outlets for equipment leasing companies, but depending on how far you wish to take your online presence, there are dozens of other sites that can be leveraged to achieve this goal. Other social media sites worth exploring include, but are not limited to, Instagram, Vine, Reddit, and Google+.
Whatever channels you choose, actively promoting your company though social media increases brand awareness, provides more customer feedback, generates higher quality leads, strengthens relationships, allows you to run targeted ads, provides valuable content and information to your target audience, and more. Most importantly, maintaining a social media presence can vastly improve your website traffic, organic search results and rankings, resulting in greater returns for your business.
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