Trucking in the Digital Age
WINNIPEG, MB — “One of the very hardest things for me when I was driving in the Northwest Territories was to not be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone,” says long distance driver, David Henry.
Henry, who lives near Winnipeg, recently returned from a trip to Yellowknife. He’s been driving truck for over 25 years and is currently an owner-operator with Penner International.
Being up there on the ice roads brought back memories of the ol’ days of trucking, when truck stops had phones out on all the tables for professional drivers like himself, Henry says.
“I used to go into a truck stop 25 years ago and I’d pick up one of those phones and call home – it was so expensive.”
He and his wife didn’t ever talk long, he says, because of the cost. And the kids?
“I didn’t talk much to the kids because of the expense and most of the time the truck stop was noisy.”
Happily, times have changed.
His grandson, Jayden, is three and loves Henry’s big truck. “We’re always sending pictures and videos back and forth,” Henry says.
“I’ll send him a video and I’ll just tell him how my day is going and if he’s sleeping or whatever, it’s still there so my daughter will show it to him and he’ll play it over, and over, and over.”
Most of all, Jayden loves honking the truck’s horns, Henry says.
“The other day,” Henry says laughing. “My mom asked him, ‘What kinda truck does grandpa drive?’ and he says, ‘a white Frighno!’ My mom was floored. She thought he was gonna say ‘Honk Honk,’ but I’m trying to teach him all these little boy things like it’s a Freightliner Cascadia and it has a Detroit DD15 engine.”
Even up in the NWT, Henry would get Wi-Fi every couple of days and could Skype with his friends and family. And best of all, it was free.
“I just can’t imagine trying to drive without it [social media] now.”
Confessions of an Internet Junkie
I am a 20-something self-proclaimed social media addict. I have a degree in journalism and media from the University of Toronto/Centennial College and I’ve never known a world without the Internet.
Figuring out how people relate to information, whether you’re talking newspapers, books, Facebook or Tumblr, is how I make my living.
I’m the face behind many of Today’s Trucking’s tweets, Facebook posts, Wikipedia entry, LinkedIn profile, but not our Youtube channel which is manned by Dan Robinson, our in-house video producer. And like Henry, I can’t imagine living in a world without Internet..
Recently, I was flipping through a new study by Carrier Logistics Inc., (CLI), a developer of information technology systems for freight carriers. They claim social media is now widely used in the transportation industry.
“While ‘everyone is doing it’ is not exactly the case, the study makes a compelling case for business-to-business organizations in general, and transportation companies in particular, to use social media for brand awareness, customer acquisition, and lead generation,” says Gary Snyder, business development manager for CLI, who conducted the study.
Snyder found that 68 percent of the freight haulers surveyed have a social media presence. Of those, 80 percent have a Facebook page, 72 percent use LinkedIn and 64 percent used Twitter, Google+ and other platforms.
“The time has come when transportation companies can no longer afford not to be on social media,” says Ken Weinberg, vice president and co-founder of CLI.
Henry has Facebook and Twitter. He writes a blog about his trucking adventures, www.crazycanuckdave.com and of course, uses Skype.
He commented: “I wish everybody was on it. I love seeing tweets from trucking companies. The ones that stand out to me are JG Drapeau and Jacquie Meyers. I have such a positive image in my mind of those companies.”
“They’re not generic,” he explains. “People such as Jacquie who appreciate their drivers or talk about things they’ve done for the drivers, it’s a human personal touch that you don’t always get.”
Meyers responds: “I’m on Twitter to keep the Meyers name out there. My theory was to give a human face to it so if our drivers go on Twitter and follow me, we can interact as human beings not just ‘I work for Meyers Transport, the corporation.’”
Plus, she adds, “It’s a bit of marketing; it’s free and hopefully it gives a face to the company.”
But Snyder says trucking still lags behind other business-to-business companies.
It’s one thing to have a social media presence and altogether another to use it regularly, he says. He found that among the motor carriers using social media, 70 percent updated at least once a week on Twitter, 63 percent on Facebook. On LinkedIn, however, just 26 percent updated pages weekly.