How to Use Social Media for Your Expedited Trucking Business in Turbulent Times
Social media can be a powerful tool to connect with people, increase your exposure, and build your personal brand.
But if you're not careful, what you say on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram can damage your reputation, hurt your business, and waste a ton of your time in the process.
So, if you're an expedite owner-operator, driver, or fleet owner, how can you capitalize on the opportunities that social media offers to help grow your business while avoiding the potential pitfalls?
Here are seven principles for using social media with professionalism.
1. Do no harm.
Use social media for good-to encourage and build people up, provide helpful advice, or offer entertainment and humor.
And avoid going to these platforms to publicly shame, criticize, and bring down people.
The idea here is to "do no harm" to other people-and to your personal brand.
2. Nurture my network.
We tend to think about our social media posts in terms of what we want to say at that moment.
But what if we flipped our perspective to consider our posts in light of what our audience would want.
We'd ask ourselves the question: "What could I post today that would be helpful, informative, entertaining, or interesting to my followers?"
That's what it means to "nurture my network." It's about using these powerful communication tools to bring value to your audience. And, in turn, you increase the value of your network-and, ultimately, your business.
3. Promote civility.
Do you exhibit professionalism with your public communications?
After all, that's exactly what your social media posts are-public communications. Even when your accounts are set on "private."
So, think about that when you're tempted to dive into heated political debates on Facebook, where you get sucked into posting comments with the goal of "winning" the argument while mocking the other side for thinking differently.
Instead, promote civil discourse. If you feel like you must weigh-in on a controversial topic, just do so with professionalism, where you show respect for the other side.
This way, you'll make a powerful and positive impression on folks who might want to do business with you, hire you, or drive for you.
4. Ignore the trolls.
If you've developed a social media following, you're going to encounter trolls-you know, the people who comment on your posts with personal attacks toward you or your ideas.
Everything in you will want to respond immediately. But, think first.
Perhaps the commenter said what they did in good faith but just misunderstood the intention of your post. In that case, maybe respond to clarify. If they still argue with you, don't engage any further.
In other cases, you might want to delete their comment altogether.
Remember, when you post something on your account, it's "your house, your rules." You decide who and what you will allow on your feed.
5. Serve often; sell rarely.
A common mistake I see with fleet owners, in particular, is when they only post on social media to advertise something-such as a need for drivers or a truck they want to sell.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with "selling" on social media, I find that the more savvy fleet owners tend to post mostly interesting and helpful (non-sales) content-it could be humorous, insightful, or educational-that builds trust with their audience. This way, when they do ask for help or have something to sell, their audience is going to be more receptive to them.
6. Avoid rants.
You might feel frustrated about something that happened to you recently. Perhaps a shipper or fleet owner mistreated you. Or, you had a bad experience with someone you did business with. And everything in you wants to immediately get online, throw those folks under the bus, and publicly shame them.
But do everything you can to resist this temptation. While it may feel good in the moment to get your frustration off your chest to the public, your negativity might damage your own reputation.
It's what I call the "boomerang effect."
So, be careful. This doesn't mean that you don't ever publicly call out someone or a company that has wronged you. But, if you do decide to take to social media to speak out about the issue, make it more of a last resort option after you tried to resolve the matter with that person or company offline.
And then refer to Principle #3, promote civility, by expressing your displeasure in a highly professional way.
7. Remember who I represent.
Like it or not, what you say online reflects not only on you but also on those associated with you-your family, your carrier, your fleet owner, your drivers.
So, when in doubt, get a trusted person's opinion to "sanity check" your post or Tweet before you hit publish. This will save you a ton of heartache and time.
The Bottom Line
The reality is this: If you post on social media, you're a "public figure." And what you say on those platforms can have wide-ranging impacts on your business, positive and negative. So, be measured with your words to capitalize on the vast opportunities that social media can offer to help you grow your business.