Social Media Come to the Trucking Industry
While social media have been around for several years, 2010 was a landmark period in their evolution. The popularity of the movie “The Social Network” and the designation of Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg as Time magazine’s man of the year propelled this emerging phenomenon to widespread attention. The news this week that Goldman Sachs plans to invest $500 million in Facebook further cements the increasing value being placed on this movement and Facebook in particular.
This caused me to reflect on the impact Social Media are having on the Freight Transportation industry. Here are some thoughts based on my own personal experiences and on the experiences of a number of people who shared their observations on a transportation discussion group in LinkedIn this week.
While I would not consider myself an expert in social media, I have been an active blogger for the past two years and have used LinkedIn for about the same amount of time. More recently I began participating on Facebook and Twitter.
Social media are all about communication, participation, relationship building and networking. These are the essential components or building blocks. To take advantage of social media to build your business requires a pragmatic and focused effort using an assortment of tools and resources. This is what I am seeing.
LinkedIn and Facebook have become essential to recruiting and are widely used by both recruiters and job seekers. LinkedIn can highlight a range of potential candidates. It can identify shared contacts that can provide feedback on the quality of the candidates. LinkedIn profiles can also contain references on some of these individuals. By joining the various special interest groups on LinkedIn, one can ask the other members for names of candidates. Trucking companies can also post profiles. Facebook can be used to review their interests, appearance, friends, hobbies, and a variety of other data. They can be quite or even too revealing.
Facebook is also being used for “quick hires” by spreading the word on the availability of positions through a company’s employees. In one specific case, a company used LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist to recruit 10 drivers. Within 24 hours they had found the number of drivers they were looking for.
A LinkedIn search can reveal the names of companies in specific industries and geographic areas. A search of your LinkedIn contacts can identify individuals in these companies. These lists can be matched against your contacts to see if there are any shared names. If so, these individuals can be contacted to arrange introductions or appointments that can ultimately lead to sales. Similarly Twitter is being used by drivers seeking loads and shippers seeking trucks.
LinkedIn and Twitter are often used to share information on specific topics. The topics can range from CSA 2010 to transportation management software. There is a broad range of discussion groups and new ones are surfacing on an ongoing basis. Social media can also be used to advertise an upcoming event or public speaking engagement. Blogs are also effective, particularly the popular ones since they tend to build a group of followers. Over time some of these folks may be more inclined to connect with a particular blogger if they feel that the individual or his company can provide services of value.
Many websites are being programmed for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This increases the website traffic from those individuals most likely to have an interest in the company’s services. By creating groups of interested website visitors or “fans,” distribution lists can be created to send information of specific interest to particular targets.
Vendors are taking advantage of social media to reach potential clientele. One trucking industry vendor that is active in social media is Find Truck Service (www.findtruckservice.com), which helps trucking companies and truck drivers locate commercial service and parts providers in the United States. The company also provides a free locator for road service, repair shops, towing, truck stops, dealers, locksmiths, pallets and heavy-duty parts. If one tweets the words "lost package" and mentions FedEx or UPS they will be contacted by the company.
Clearly social media are in their infancy but there appear to be many applications for them in the transportation industry.