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Truck Dealer Uses Social Networking to Connect With Customers

August 17, 2010

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Indianapolis-based Stoops Freightliner wanted a more creative way to connect to customers, especially owner-operators and other truckers who aren't part of a larger organization, said Mark Nelson, Stoops IT manager. And these days, more and more truckers are connecting online, with 95 percent of them carrying laptops and mobile devices, the company says. For the truck dealer, expanding its online presence and moving into social networking was key to bringing its business to truckers
The Stoops Freightliner brand centers around Owner Jeff Stoops, pictured here.
The Stoops Freightliner brand centers around Owner Jeff Stoops, pictured here.
and communicating information about the company and its offerings.

Earlier this year, the company decided to revamp its website, Stoops.com, and create Facebook and Twitter pages. Nelson said Stoops wanted to use social networking to become more of a friend to the truck driver, rather than a targeted business. Stoops also wanted to spread its company name and what it stands for.

The Benefits of Social Networking

And the effort seems to be paying off. Nelson said the company's Web traffic has increased dramatically. The company has nearly 300 friends on Facebook and over 350 followers on Twitter.

The move has provided Stoops with an avenue for networking with fleets and other vendors, Nelson said. Put simply, it has opened up the exchange of information.

It's a way for the dealer to bring products to its customers faster, as well as to give customers access to deals and specials.

Protection

The Stoops sales and marketing team knew that to realize the benefits of social media, they'd need to allow customers direct access to Stoops sales representatives through these sites and provide an online destination for the trucking community to get information, service options, and easy access to information about truck and trailer inventories.

In addition, with an enterprise network that now connects all seven of its dealer locations and its headquarters and more than 450 computer users throughout the company, Stoops had to make sure the roll out was done in a safe and controlled fashion if it wanted to open up this network.

Prior to the launch of the new network, the only way to access social media sites was from a separate machine not connected to the corporate network. Now while each user has Web access, only 10 percent of those employees have the need to use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as part of their role.

"I had two priorities - firstly filtering web content for malware, viruses and also inappropriate messaging was key - and implementing the access policies that were set by each department about who was allowed to go where, and do what was my second," said Nelson.

To get this protection, Nelson selected the Unified Security Gateway (USG) from FaceTime Communications. The USG controls social networking traffic; blocks malware and viruses; controls and filters Web access; and manages social networking applications.

With FaceTime's USG, department managers at Stoops can view their team's Internet usage through a secure "reporter" account.

"If you talk to anyone in the company, they all want access to Facebook," said Nelson. "In IT, it's not our role to be telling employees where they can and can't go from a productivity standpoint. That is clearly a management responsibility and we've implemented approval chain procedures to gain Web access. Our job is to keep that access safe."

To follow Stoops on Twitter, go to twitter.com/StoopsTrucks.

To visit the company's Facebook page, click here.


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