We live and work in an increasingly connected world, where employees and customers alike can easily share a wealth of information. A recent survey by Media Technology Monitor found that 71% of Internet users are now active on social media, and the interest in platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter continues to grow. This is all a good thing – as long as the online conversations are managed against the backdrop of an effective social media strategy.
Any corporate strategy designed to manage such messages begins with a clear understanding of how different social media platforms are used. LinkedIn, for example, gives business professionals a place to share everything from contact details to virtual resumes and recommendations. Facebook, which according to Media Technology Monitor reaches a whopping 93% of Canada’s social media users, tends to be a stronger platform for personal and lifestyle-related posts. Twitter’s 140-character bites of information offer a quick way to share news and engage in related conversations.
Each can be used by a fleet in a different way. Sales teams may use LinkedIn to build business connections, while employees throughout the fleet can participate in designed discussion groups. Facebook gives otherwise isolated drivers a chance to share pictures and updates with co-workers, family and friends. Twitter might be used to spread safety-related messages and the positive results from a roadside inspection blitz, all helping to reinforce the company’s commitment to a professional workplace.
There is no shortage of good news to share. These platforms offer a place to welcome new customers, acknowledge drivers who reach milestones such as one million safe kilometres, or simply announce the newest members of a team. Recruiters have been known to ask drivers to share and like company posts about job openings. In fact, every positive message can be liked or shared, to help expand the audience.
Of course, the conversations are a two-way street. Not every posted comment or bit of news will be positive. But a formal policy and strategy will turn these situations into a learning experience, and even enhance the company’s image in the process.
A formal social media policy serves to remind employees that they are representing the company brand whenever they post information about a fleet – even on a personal account. It stresses an employee’s role as a business ambassador and how every post can reach a wide audience, making it important to remain factual and respectful of others.
After all, a negative post about the fleet could affect everything from recruiting efforts to sales.
Simply encouraging workers to pause and think about the broader impact before posting any details can help to avoid many common pitfalls.
Formal policies also offer a chance to reinforce that some company information is only meant for internal eyes. They can explore the kind of information people can be expected to share, and the details such as a trailer’s destination which should remain in house. And they define who is authorized to speak on behalf of the company, or use branding elements such as logos.
Those who are authorized to post information on a company account, meanwhile, can be provided with the information that will ensure posts align with corporate values.
One way to draw the line between personal and corporate opinions is to ensure company email addresses and computers are not used to establish personal social media accounts. Bloggers can be encouraged to add disclaimers to their posts to stress that opinions are theirs alone, and not that of their employer.
Like every other company policy it has a home in a driver’s file, where a signed copy will demonstrate that the information was reviewed and understood.
Fleets that take the time to monitor posts about their business also have the chance to monitor employee and customer opinions which might otherwise be hidden or be grumbled around a loading dock. Negative comments can be transformed into a learning experience.
Facing a customer who has vented about a late delivery or poor service, for example, a fleet can use the same social media platform to respond. People will often remove complaints when a company provides an apology about the negative experience, promises to correct the matter, and then offers to discuss the issue offline.
Drivers can also be approached about online posts that complain about working conditions, to ensure that the underlying challenges are actually addressed. It is all about making connections, and acting on the lessons that are learned.
This month’s experts are Danielle Pitl and Heather Blackwell. Danielle is the director, corporate communications for Northbridge Financial Corporation and has been working as a communications professional for more than eight years. Heather has seven years’ experience in trucking safety and compliance and now provides support to the Northbridge Insurance risk services team. Northbridge Insurance is a leading Canadian commercial insurer built on the strength of four companies with a longstanding history in the marketplace and has been serving the trucking industry for more than 60 years. You can visit them at www.nbins.com.