When you're trying to put your best foot forward on Facebook and other social media trying to recruit and retain drivers, negative comments on your posts can make you cringe. But don't let that keep you from having a vibrant social media presence for your fleet.
A recent webinar hosted by the Truckload Carriers Association outlined the various ways social media platforms, particularly Facebook, can be used to attract new driving talent to fleets and retain current ones. If used properly, social media is an excellent tool that fleets can use not only to communicate with drivers and potential drivers, but also leverage to boost their overall visibility in a crowded, competitive and dynamic industry, noted Tom Robb, associate director of education for TCA and the host of the webinar.
But there is a dark side to social media as well — the ability of drivers, former employees, irate customers, or online “trolls” to spread misinformation or rant about grievances to the world at large, and invite others to join in. Often, company executives fear this aspect of social media so much, that they either opt out of it entirely, or only grudgingly maintain a largely hands-off online presence.
This approach can give the illusion of insulating a company from negative online attacks. But it often means such attacks are not addressed and neutralized in a timely manner. In some cases, these attacks can go on for days before a company is even aware they have a problem on their hands.
Webinar moderator, Jane Jazrawy, CEO of CarriersEdge, who helps produce TCA’s Annual Best Fleets to Drive For program, said many people today feel that social media — Facebook in particular — is a “plague." However, she said companies still must be prepared to deal with it effectively when someone with an axe to grind starts a public rant.
“Trucking companies can get bad press, often for just simply existing,” Jazrawy said. “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.”
Oftentimes, the most effective method for dealing with online trolls and attacks is one that runs counterintuitive to the instincts of business professionals: Simply do nothing, said Melissa Nishan, vice president of driver recruiting for Epes Transportation; Kenneth Moore, a former driver turned operations analyst for Maverick Transportation; and Maverick’s marketing supervisor, Callie Heathscott.
“Initially, we took everything negative down as soon as it appeared on our Facebook page,” Nishan said. “Something would come up on our page and we’d go into full panic mode.” But, as time went by, Nishan said her team’s attitudes toward negative posts began to change.
“Sometimes we’d have a negative post come in late at night, and it would be a few hours before any of our staff saw it. But we began to see that in that time span, our drivers would often respond to the negative comments. We began to realize there was an opportunity here. Instead of us ‘corporate’ people simply taking posts down, we had an opportunity for our drivers to turn them into something positive, either by explaining something to the critic, or simply calling out bad or misleading information.
“We realized that was a much more powerful way of dealing with these attacks than the usual corporate approach,” Nishan noted.
At Maverick, Moore said the fleet looks at negative posts on a case-by-case basis to determine what the problem or grievance is before deciding on an appropriate action.
“In many cases, though,” he said, “we’ve found that this can be an opportunity to reach out to a disgruntled driver privately to discuss issues and encourage them to use Facebook in a more positive way that can help attract more drivers to our fleet.”
For the most part, Epes generally leaves negative posts up, Nishan said, in the hope that they will be organically neutralized by the company’s drivers. However, she stressed that each post is unique and most be monitored so things don’t get out of hand before it’s too late to tone things down.
“It really depends on how bad the post is,” she said. “It makes a lot of company executives nervous, but negative posts can actually be a great tool for your company if you leave them up. But, like with anything else, you have to manage the situation and be prepared to take action if necessary."