You have a powerful driver recruiting and retention tool sitting at your disposal. However, it’s a tool you make not like very much – and one that can actually cause you a great deal of problems if it’s not managed properly.
It’s called social media. And Tom Robb, the Truckload Carrier Association’s associate director of education, recently hosted a webinar to tell fleets how to better use social media platforms to attract new drivers, keep the ones they have, and boost their companies' overall visibility.
Moderating the panel discussion was Jane Jazrawy, CEO of CarriersEdge, which helps produce TCA’s Annual Best Fleets to Drive For program.
Jazrawy noted that each year, CarriersEdge reviews the social media actions of nominated companies and has identified a top tier of performers in the medium. Among them are Epes Transport System, which had Vice President of Driver Recruiting Melissa Nishan as a panelist on the webinar, as well as Kenneth Moore, a former driver turned operations analyst for Maverick Transportation, and Maverick’s marketing supervisor, Callie Heathscott.
To begin with, Jazarwy noted the obvious – that not everybody is in love with social media today, particularly Facebook. “Social media is a plague,” she said. “We hear that a lot. And it’s understandable. Facebook in particular has been under fire lately for 'fake news' problems. And fake news is not just an issue with political campaigns. Companies also face problems on social media – again, Facebook in particular – with fake news issues. Trucking companies can get bad press, often for just simply existing. So at the very least, it’s worthwhile to learn how to use your social media pages to educate your employees, customers and the general public, as well as how to combat negative posts that can damage your image.”
According to Jazrawy, 76% percent of drivers use social media. The vast majority are on Facebook, far more than any other social media platform. In fact, she noted that the second most popular social media platform used by drivers is YouTube, but only 18% of drivers say they visit the site. For that reason, she advises fleets interested in boosting their social media presence to concentrate primarily on Facebook.
Around six years ago, Jazrawy began to notice that certain companies did really well on Facebook, while many others did poorly. “I started seeing small fleets with only 200 drivers – but they had thousands of followers on Facebook,” she said. “And I began to wonder how they did that.”
One quick way to determine if your social media efforts are bearing fruit is to find out how many of your drivers actually follow your company on social media. Jazrawy said several recent TCA Best Fleet honorees have outstanding programs, including Keller Trucking, which has a whopping 85% of its driver force following it on Facebook; Bennett Trucking, with 78% of its drivers following the fleet; as well as Maverick with 74% of its drivers following the company, and Nussbaum Transportation which has 70% of its drivers as Facebook “friends.”
If your social media efforts are lagging, Jazrawy said an easy place to start is using your page to tell stories. “Nothing is more powerful than a good story,” she said, citing a line from the last episode of “Game of Thrones.” “And that is true for Facebook too. Use pictures and videos as well to paint a picture of the life and culture and people at your fleet.”
Social Media is the New Phone Call
When it comes to recruiting drivers, Jazrawy said it is important to understand that social media today is the new phone call. Drivers who are interested in a fleet now go on Facebook first to get more information. And if they like what they see, they follow that up with asking questions on comment sections. “Drivers are always watching,” she added. “Maverick has between 1,600 and 1700 drivers, but over 106,000 followers on Facebook. And I know of a small fleet with only 35 drivers that has over 500 Facebook followers.”
All the more reason, she said, to pay attention and engage with people on your Facebook page and put new content out as often as is feasible.
Melissa Nishan at Epes said that when she took over the fleet’s Facebook page, the primary concern from management was about watching for and controlling negative content. “So I took ownership of it,” she said. “We all put it on our smartphones and started responding to posts in the evenings as well as during business hours.”
Today, Epes social media outreach is so big, the company had to outsource its management to a marketing agency. But the overall thrust of the company’s page remains true to Nishan’s original vision. “You have to come up with engaging content,” she stressed. “And it shouldn’t always be just about your company or trucks. Share random, humorous and interactive posts that add 'likes' and followers, and just take it from there.”
Heathscott said that 24% of Maverick’s new driver hires so far this year came from Facebook. “And the leads and data we have coming in are growing exponentially. We recently had to hire a new social media professional to help us keep the leads growing and track them through our system and hopefully into the hiring process.”
Like Nishan, Heathscott said taking ownership of social media is critical for success. “Videos and pictures get way more clicks than text,” she noted. “So feature your drivers. Take pictures of them so that someone who wants to work at your company can see them doing the things that make them happy. We recently had a driver who had a baby. The baby was born at 10 p.m., and we had pictures of the new family up on our Facebook page before midnight.”
The overall mission, however, is a constant: Create a Facebook page where your employees and potential employees can see what kind of company – in essence tell your company’s story in real time to the real world. If you have an interesting story to tell, that attracts people. And the more people who are watching what you do and how you do it, the larger your potential recruiting pool becomes.