Many consider the trucking industry to be one where innovation and forward-thinking is hard to come by, yet that couldn’t be further from the truth. As trucking companies embrace telematics, advanced safety and fleet management systems, they are moving – albeit cautiously – into the future. There is one area, however, where fleets could stand to do more to increase the positive impact to their brand. That area is in social media.
Social media use is more than just a fleeting fad. With a fifth of the global population now taking part in some form of social media use, the opportunities presented for increased brand awareness and reputation building within the space are plentiful. Businesses are utilizing social media platforms to enhance their customer service endeavors, showcase their brand and values, share knowledge, collaborate with others, and so much more.
Whether large or small, trucking companies should be operating within the social space. There are specific ways in which trucking companies can use social media to gain an edge over their competition. This is especially true since so many transportation companies have yet to embrace the platform in a big way. But how does a trucking company go about it?
Why Social Media is Important
In the 21st Century, it has become expected of companies – no matter the industry – to have some kind of social media presence. Whether you are talking about customers, shippers, receivers, or potential truck drivers, they are going a lot further than just looking at a company’s website. They also check the brand’s social media presence.
People getting involved with a transportation company should be able to gain valuable insight into how the brand presents itself on social media, whether that be through photos, posts, or how well the brand communicates with those interacting with it on the platform. And this is important for just about everyone in the company, whether owner, executive, HR, customer service, sales, marketing, operations or just about anyone else who plays a role representing the company.
While ensuring engagement on a company’s social media presence is important, there is an even more important reason to ensure you are present on a social media platform (or three): Your competition is there. No matter what the industry, if you don’t have a seat at the social media table, it can be guaranteed your competition does. Without a voice, are you missing out on potential opportunities?
Even more, social media is not just about having fun with people or swapping pictures. For businesses, social media represents a critical way to support vital business functions, from troubleshooting and support to sharing industry knowledge and engaging with potential new customers. Many decision-makers are on social media. Is your company?
Outsource or In-House?
Trucking companies have the option to manage their social media endeavors in-house or outsource them to a third-party company. There are lots of digital marketing companies out there who are experienced in managing social media for transportation companies, it is just a matter of finding the right one. Whatever a company does, however, it is important that whomever is managing their platforms are maximizing the value that social media can bring in for the business.
With fleets already used to outsourcing, whether it be for maintenance, inspections, accounting, or otherwise, outsourcing digital marketing efforts should not seem like that much of a stretch. One of the benefits to outsourcing, which many motor carriers are well-aware of, is the decreased cost associated with “having someone else do it.”
When you don’t have to hire an employee (or two), pay them benefits, give them an office space, and so on, it becomes a far easier economic proposition to hire an outside source to handle the efforts. Digital marketing companies can often charge a far lower rate because they are working with freelancers operating in the gig economy.
Conversely, when a company brings someone in-house to handle these efforts, they have far greater control over the outcome. Although it may be more expensive to hire someone to handle the business’ marketing efforts, it is easier to ensure messaging and creative control remain firmly in the hands of decision makers within the fleet, rather than a third party who may not understand the company voice.
So, if you decide to handle social media endeavors for your fleet, rather than hire someone else to do it, how would you go about getting the most out of your efforts?
Pick Your Platform
Not every social media platform is appropriate for every company. Whether the process is being implemented in-house or outsourced, managing it can be a time-consuming process. Furthermore, it is only effective on the platforms your business uses.
As one example, LinkedIn is a great platform for business-to-business interaction. Whether it be to connect with potential clients, read industry-related articles, or look for potential new recruits, LinkedIn is the place for professional social media users.
Twitter, on the other hand, is a great way to take the real-time temperature of what people are discussing within your industry. Whether it be to eavesdrop on conversations or use social media listening tools to see if someone is using a hash tag to describe you or your company, it is perfectly acceptable to jump in and weigh in on the conversation at hand.
Twitter provides a way for companies and individuals to keep track of breaking news, current events, or up-to-the-second information. Many companies also use Twitter to keep track of customer complaints, as this is often the platform of choice for people looking to sound off on a company. Knowing who is talking about your company on a social media platform – and what they are saying – is critical to staying at the front of either damaging information or a potential opportunity.
Facebook is used more and more for businesses to connect with potential customers. Articles are often shared on Facebook, as are images and anecdotal stories. Business pages on Facebook have a place for customer reviews, to promote your website, generate ads for your business, and much more. If you have ever purchased something on Facebook or seen or heard someone say something positive or negative about a business, then you understand the potential Facebook has to make or break a company’s reputation.
Listening to Your Audience
Consumers today are more connected and smarter than ever when it comes to choosing who to do business with. They now have an intuitive ability to tell when a brand is either trying to connect with them or sell them something. That’s why it is critical that brands are listening to the conversations that are taking place within the social media space.
Knowing what people are saying goes a long way to improving customer service, sales, market research, retention, and more. When people are on social media talking about your transportation company, it helps you isolate issues that are important to them.
Even more, as trucking companies increasingly try to find ways to attract new truck drivers amidst an employment squeeze, being active on social media platforms helps to attract and retain new truck drivers. It also helps inform companies on what potential new recruits are looking for from trucking companies. Are they looking for higher pay, better benefits packages, or more home time? The best way to find out is to be on the platforms they are using.
Additionally, there are tools out there that would let a fleet listen to relevant conversations using appropriate keyword searches on the platforms they are using. Once the topic is discovered, initiating a conversation on social media allows a company to have a two-way conversation with potential customers and/or recruits, which feels a lot less like a sales pitch and more like a normal interaction.
Define a Strategy
Beyond simply listening and responding – using social media as a communication tool – transportation companies need to create an effective social media strategy. What are the long-term goals of the organization? Does your strategy match up with those goals? Social media should help align your company with its five- or ten-year goals.
While social media should be fun – as it is designed to be – it should also be a strategic measure, used to align a company’s business with its goals. While social media is a platform for engagement, it still needs to be treated to generate revenue for the business. Social media should not be used in a vacuum by just one or two individuals within the organization.
Rather, social media should be used in a coordinated way within the company. No matter what department is involved, social media use should be aligned with business goals, key performance indicators, quality measurements, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals.
Social media represents a great way for trucking companies to engage their followers, stay relevant in the marketplace, increase their overall level of positive customer service engagements, and stay ahead of the competition. Is your trucking company taking advantage of the promises social media use provides?