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Trucking Industry is Getting Social

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I walked the floor at the recent Mid America Trucking Show to get an idea of how quickly the trucking industry is adopting social media and the latest digital technologies.

I found that some companies are very engaged, others are in the process of becoming more involved, and others are sticking their head in the sand – believing that they will lose “control” if they put themselves out there in social media.   Guys, you are already “out there.”  Web 2.0 technologies have significantly shifted the power from institutions to the people.  Get with the program!

Anecdotally speaking, I saw a lot more social media activity than at last year’s show.  The show’s Twitter hashtag was very active, companies were using social media to drive booth traffic, and it was clear that social media is playing a greater role in marketing strategies for many.

 

I liked what I saw from Michelin.  They are actively listening to their customers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and according to Michelin Marketing Communications Manager Bianca Hogan, the company has established procedures for engaging with advocates and responding to detractors (when a response is appropriate).

It was music to my ears when Ryan Fisher, account manager with Michelin agency Jackson Marketing Group, described how they conducted research at another trucking show to find out which social media platforms are most used by drivers and owner operators.  We see the opposite all too often; companies wanting to jump into Facebook, Twitter or something else before really analyzing how, where and why their target audiences are using social media.  For the record, they found Facebook to be the main platform with Twitter and YouTube also very popular.  Facebook and YouTube are a great way for these road warriors to stay in touch, personally and professionally, while Twitter is good for sharing the latest news on road delays, weather conditions, etc.

Joan O’Clair, corporate communications and social media manager for TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers, explained that the company has launched a popular iPhone app. to help customers check fuel prices, utilize the company’s emergency road service and much more.  Phase II of the app. is on its way with restaurant specials and more.

Magnus Koeck, vice president of marketing and brand development for Volvo Trucks North America, said Volvo Trucks has been involved in social media for some time in Europe.  Koeck said he has challenged his team to learn more about New Media because it is obvious that Volvo Trucks’ customers are spending more and more time online.  He said they will soon be adding a digital media specialist to the marketing staff.

It was also great to see the traditional media integrating social media into their offerings.  We had a great conversation with Deborah and Evin Lockridge about how they are using Twitter and other New Media tools at Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.

Then there was the speaker who warned the audience not to get involved in Facebook for security reasons.  Yes, you have to be aware of security issues and have a social media policy in place.  But advising not to get involved is akin to a transportation company in the early part of the 20th Century sticking with mules and wagons because you could lose control of a motorized vehicle’s steering wheel.

 

 

 

It’s A Google World!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I was in Chapel Hill, NC, the other day visiting my Tar Heel daughter and was reminded of the importance of Google rankings for tire dealers (or any retailers for that matter) – not that I needed reminding.

My daughter’s very reliable Nissan Sentra needed an oil change and state inspection.  I was in a hurry.  I Googled “best value in tires in Chapel Hill, NC” and called the dealer that ranked first in the non-paid search.  Never heard of them before.  Didn’t look at any other options.  I called them, booked a time and took the car in.  I know a thing or two about tires after 20 years in the business, but again, time was short.

If you’re a tire dealer, you need to rank high in Google, preferably on the first page.  Consumers are in a hurry.  In a low involvement category such as tires, most consumers are not going to spend a lot of time surfing, reviewing one website after another.

So how do you achieve the high ranking?  You can pay for it of course, but more and more consumers are becoming savvy to paid searches and prefer to patronize businesses that earn their Google rankings by having an SEO-rich website, by answering questions on Twitter, by recognizing their customers on Facebook, receiving testimonials on Yelp, etc.

Once you get them in the door you still need to provide good old-fashioned customer service, which by the way, will help your Google rankings because social media super-charges the power of word-of-mouth.  This dealer, by the way, provided excellent service and had a couple of Mac computers  in the waiting room ready for surfing – nice touch!  They will be at the top of my list next time I’m in Chapel Hill and need tires or auto services – that is, if they keep their Google ranking up.

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