Charles Duhigg’s best-selling book, “the Power of Habit,” explains a simple scientific equation of habit formation that is pre-programmed into our brains: cue, routine, reward.
This “habit loop” occurs so frequently and naturally that it might be easy to miss. If your phone chirps during a meeting (the cue), you glance down to read the new message (the routine) that shows a Facebook friend has commented on your status, and you enjoy a mild rush of endorphins (the reward).
Changing or otherwise improving habits is the core of any business strategy. Driver safety is all about identifying and improving driving habits. Marketing means to increase brand awareness and influence buying habits.
Social media has become an essential strategic tool for influencing a market audience’s habits. The point of using Facebook – at least for transportation companies – is to become part of the existing social habits of drivers, customers and other prospects.
Drivers are a fleet’s primary Facebook audience. More than 96 percent of company drivers have a Facebook account, according to Randall-Reilly Market Intelligence. For many carriers, Facebook has become the go-to resource for drivers looking to change careers.
“(Drivers) look there often when they are researching a company,” says John Elliott, president of Lansing, Mich.-based Load One, a 350-truck expedited hauler.
Elliott feels that Facebook is most useful to help prospective drivers understand the company’s culture. While some carriers use Facebook to promote job opportunities directly, Load One has taken a more indirect – but perhaps more effective – strategy for recruiting.
The carrier – which has more than 5,800 followers – uses Facebook to recognize all new driver hires, driver birthdays, community charitable work, company events and other aspects that showcase its culture. Load One receives several job inquiries each day through Facebook, Elliott says.
However, Facebook can be a double-edged sword: People often use corporate pages to complain or spread negative information, which Elliott says has to be addressed quickly. Also, drivers and others that ask questions expect a quick response, he says.
Celadon – a 3,000-truck diversified carrier based in Indianapolis – sees Facebook’s value as a community where drivers can network and make friends. It also uses Facebook for recruiting, but in a more indirect way: Drivers do most of the talking and sharing of company information.
“At least (drivers) will know our name if they are looking,” says Allie Whalen, marketing manager.
Lincoln, Neb.-based Crete Carrier Corp., which has nearly 4,000 trucks and more than 35,000 followers, uses distinct phone numbers and website URLs when it posts job opportunities on Facebook to monitor the page’s recruiting effectiveness, says Justin Gibson, web designer.
Facebook also can be a valuable driver retention tool – who doesn’t like to be recognized along with their friends and peers? – and can help drivers feel connected to the fleet while isolated on the road.
For Celadon, the most popular posts are those that highlight events taking place at the office, as drivers get to know the staff and feel more involved and included, Whalen says.
Each month, the company recognizes drivers who achieve the top performances in on-time delivery, idling, mileage and other categories, none of which are announced ahead of time. The winning drivers are routed through headquarters and featured in Facebook videos and short articles that explain how they earned the recognition.
Many strategies can be used to increase engagement with Facebook users and influence the audience’s “buying” habits in areas such as safety, performance, health and fitness.
One way Celadon tries to increase engagement is by asking drivers to submit scenery pictures, the best of which are included in the company’s newsletter. Celadon also is developing a new driver portal through blogs, community posts and social media feeds.
To grow its Facebook presence, Load One posts a sign at all company events to remind people to check for their photos on the company’s page.
Crete periodically runs ads directly through Facebook that can be targeted to a certain demographic such as truck drivers. It also has simple contests where community members can like a post to enter.
While social media presents many opportunities for a fleet to broaden its influence, it can be time-consuming and difficult to manage. A variety of online software applications such as Sproutsocial can be used to manage social media activities, increasing efficiency and providing useful tools and analytics to engage users in this new and fast-moving world.