Rob Laird (aka @RobLairdADI) is a driving instructor based in Essex. After setting up his driving school in 2006 he began to use social networks like Twitter and Facebook to both promote his business and connect with potential and current customers, but he’s not the only instructor who’s been getting connected. I asked Rob about the benefits of using social media in his industry.
>>> When did you first start using social media for work purposes, and why?
I started using social media sites about two years after qualifing as an instructor. I began with Facebook then moved onto Twitter.
Facebook was initially as a way of staying in touch with current and passed pupils, then soon turned into a way of passing on news to a wider audience.
The main reason I started using Twitter was curiosity. Now, I find it a good way to connect with other instructors and keep up with changes in the industry.
>>> Do other Driving Instructors use social media?
Definitely. When I started, there were already a handful using it regularly, and now I would say that I know around 100 who use it every day. However put that in to context there are over 40,000 registered Instructors in the UK, so overall not that many.
>>> Which social media channels do you find most beneficial?
I would say for me personally, Twitter allows me to interact with other instructors (its a lonely job being self employed!). Saying that, Facebook is a great way of staying in touch with current pupils. I’ve also found that with me being on Facebook its easy for current pupils to point their friends in my direction if they are looking for lessons.
I do have a LinkedIn profile, and if I did more training for companies I might find it more useful.
>>> How do you connect to the web?
Most of the time its on my phone. The ease of checking and updating everything between lessons makes it easier than waiting until the end if the day when I get home.
Until recently it was a sideline to the website. Now I’m looking at it from the other side. If I was looking for a Driving Instructor (or plumber/solicitor/etc.) I would consider the knowledge that the person has. Blogs are a good way of showing your knowledge and enthusiasm to your potential customers.
>>> Do you know how many people find you online compared to through other advertising?
Not exactly, but as a rough guide around 60-70% comes through online channels. Either my website, blogs, Facebook or Twitter. The rest of business comes through recommendations and advertising such as people seeing the cars, or posters.