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Role of Social Media

A look into the use of social media to market an ADI.

A section of the updated ADI Code of Practice addresses the rules and regulations of using social media responsibly and professionally. With social media continuing to dominate our daily lives, it has become a key tool to market not only our business, but also ourselves.

You may think that Facebook is a place for teenagers to portray how popular they are, or Twitter is a website for a person to complain about something they’ve seen in the news. In a sense, you’re right. However, social media has become a massive platform from which businesses can reach out to customers.

​Twitter boasts an impressive 317 million users (data taken from reports released on 27 October 2016), a strong market for any business (or in this case, driving instructor) to reach. Sure, the 317 million users will be worldwide, but there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll get a decent number of people around you signed up to the website. For those of you who aren’t as socially savvy as others, Twitter is an online news and social networking service that allows users to post and read messages restricted to 280 characters, known as ‘tweets’.

The site allows users to search a specific term, which will result in the ‘top tweets’ appearing at first glance (ones that have gathered a lot of response, likes and/or retweets) and an option to read from a chronological list of tweets that have been sent recently. This has not only allowed Twitter to become a direct source of marketing due to its large user database, but it has also become a first point of call for people to research/explore daily breaking news.

Now I know what you’re thinking. As an instructor, where do I fit in? How can I use Twitter to bring in more learners? The first point of call for people aged 17-30 (and possibly ones slightly older than this) when wanting to gather any kind of information is to get their phone out and turn their attention to their internet browser.

A quick Google search, opening the Twitter app or logging on to Facebook is the first point of call. The person may be tempted to send out a ‘tweet’ asking the Twitter universe if anyone knows a good driving instructor in his/her area. If your business on Twitter, someone can link your account in response to the ‘tweet’ that’s enquiring, so it’ll be easier for them to find details about your driving school/yourself as an instructor, and contact you for future lessons.

​It is important that your Twitter username for your driving school is relevant, snappy and memorable and doesn’t differ from what your driving school name currently is to avoid any confusion should you direct the person to your website.

​The updated Code of Practice mentions that you need to ensure that client’s personal information is not compromised. This means avoiding any kind of conversation with the person or anyone else on Twitter (and all forms of social media) that consists of personal information such as bank details, pupil’s address, and any form of personal issues. Tweets should be friendly in tone, well written and related to the driving and motoring industry. ‘Tweeting’ a photo of your breakfast or how cute your cat looks should be left to your personal account, as irrelevant tweets can have a negative effect and depletes brand integrity.

​Social networks are the easiest way to connect with your target audience, answer their questions and enquires, and build brand awareness. As stated in the revised ADI Code of Conduct, you must ‘treat other users of social media including clients, colleagues and their views with respect.’ Keeping a professional approach to dealing with others via Facebook or Twitter will help support the image you want your brand to portray.

​The centre of your social media marketing is your audience. Whether you own a driving school or you’re an independent instructor, you will be looking for new students in your locality. Identifying your target audience is vital. As a driving instructor you most likely teach people of all ages, however it’s important to establish what age group are more likely to use social networks (i.e. teenagers and young adults are more likely to use social media a lot more than someone who is 50+).

Consider all platforms of social media and find out which age group will spend most time on which social media network. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram will be great starting points. Facebook and Twitter were established in 2004 and 2006 respectively, so are likely to have more users in the 25-35 range group, whereas Instagram and Snapchat were released in 2010 and 2011, so may have more users of a younger age.

Snapchat is an image messaging application that allows users to send photos to their followers that can only be seen for a maximum of 10 seconds before the image is permanently deleted. The app also has a chat function that works in the same way. When the participant has opened your message the text will disappear once it has been read. For an instructor, Snapchat can be exploited in a number of ways.

You can record a quick video to your news feed providing a quick glimpse of the car your potential students would be driving to convince them to choose you as their instructor. Snapchat is also a great place to announce a promotion you may want to offer your students. You can do this by sending a ‘snap’ to your followers with a promo code in order to get a discount on future lessons or persuade new learners to join you by offering a code for them to get their first lessons half price.

A word of mouth campaign is one that can prove to be effective. You could ask your students to send a ‘snap’ of the both of you, or of them and the car, that is supported by text stating the name of your driving school or something along the lines of, “just had great lesson with…” that their followers will see and enquire about. This would mean that the large group of followers your student will have will see the snap and conveniently live locally, giving you a great market of young drivers to direct your marketing too.

​When sharing videos across social networks it’s important to obey the revised Code of Practice that reads, “not distribute, circulate or publish footage taken of driving tests from in car cameras, without permission from the DVSA and the client.” In fact, if you aim to share any in-car footage from lessons then you’ll need to get the learners permission before you do so. To cover yourself from any future legal debates, writing a document for the pupil to sign to say they give you permission to post the video and/or photo online will be wise.

​Facebook is an amazing platform to run social media ads. The social giant lets you create an advert to appear on your target audience’s feed letting you choose the type of people you want your advert targeted at. You can choose your target audience’s age range, gender languages spoken as well as offering many other options.

Facebook also has ‘interest’ targeting which allows you to direct your advert to the relevant audience you’re aiming for. By placing terms such as ‘car’, ‘driving’ and/or ‘driving lessons’, Facebook will make sure that your ad is seen by those who are interested in what you have stated.

It is advised that you stay away from ‘push- selling’, as you run the risk of ruining your user experience if you talk too much about your business and why people should buy something. There should be the right balance between entertainment content, educational content and promotional content.

​The Code of Practice states; “ensuring when using social media for marketing purposes that what is written is compliant with privacy and data protection legislation pertaining to digital communications, the laws regarding spam, copyright and other online issues.” If this statement sends you into a state of confusion, then be assured that you’re not alone.

“The person may be tempted to send out a ‘tweet’ asking the Twitter universe if anyone knows a good driving instructor in his/her area”

​However, there are plenty of websites that offer advice on the laws of marketing online. A simple search on Gov.uk will also provide you with information on what you’re not allowed to do, and also advice on what you need to do in order to run your online marketing plan.

​Don’t be shy about using social networks to represent the success your driving school has had or you’ve had as an instructor. Social media allows you to share your success stories with the world, so don’t feel reluctant to ‘big yourself up.’

Obviously, relying too much on this method may have you run the risk of coming across slightly arrogant which may put off a few learners in need, but don’t let this put you off from sharing the success your students have had under your tutelage. You will have many students who have passed the driving test successfully, the more you share such stories, the more people get to know about your institution or you as a driving instructor. Sharing real people’s stories creates more impact on viewers, who will see it as a glowing reference and give a first impression of you having a great track record.

Social media references play an important role in the impact you have on the behaviour of online audiences, which can spread like wildfire on social media. Much like Snapchat, the moment your students refer your driving school or yourself on Facebook, and on any other social network, their peers can see the glowing reference.

Large media and internet business help company Bright Local, found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation and 58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important. This means that generating a good Facebook presence can lead to bringing in learners. If a learner views your Facebook page and sees a 5-star rating worth of reviews, images of successful test passes and updates that portray you and/ or your driving school in a positive light, it’s a great first impression.

​One other thing to remember when addressing your social media feeds is that one of the most effective ways to get the attention of your audience is to offer help. Whether its information on how to apply for your theory test or issuing driving trivia, engaging with your audience regularly on social media is a must in order to build your online presence. It will build trust with your audience and credibility on your part. Most importantly, it is another way to establish yourself as an industry thought leader and remember to pay close attention to the revised Code of Practice should you have any worries about what to do/not to do on social networks.

Read the feature Climb the social ladder

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