By Kerry Evans-Spillman
Land Line staff
It would be easy to dismiss social networking websites as silly or useless. Someone over the age of 40 probably thinks “drivel” or “place where my teenager wastes time” when you say the words MySpace or Twitter. But if you take a closer look, you’ll discover that social media is more than games, lolcats, OMG and WTF.
Spending days, weeks or months apart from family and friends is nothing new for truckers. An unfortunate side effect of the business is losing connections with people at home. Social networking can be an effective way to remain close when you’re hundreds of miles away.
Getting started is simple and, in most cases, free. For example, if you go to Facebook.com the sign-up process requires you to enter a few basic details to establish an account.
Once you’ve done that, you can personalize your profile by adding information about yourself, maybe include a picture (also called an avatar), and look for friends to add to your network.
Avoid sharing too much personal information. If you want to list things like your address and phone number on your profile, adjust the privacy settings to control who can access that data. Never share things like your passwords or Social Security number.
Now that you’ve covered the essentials and added some friends, it’s time to get your socializing on.
Gone are the days when you totally missed your daughter’s piano recital because you were on the road. Now your family can upload a video of it, and you can almost feel as if you were there. Nothing beats actually being there, but isn’t this better than hearing about her recital over the phone the next day?
If you’re still not convinced something of importance can actually be extracted from social media, then consider what they can do for your business.
Professional sites like LinkedIn.com are specifically for business networking. Many members of the trucking industry are on LinkedIn and several trucking industry discussion groups.
Think of some social networking sites as enhanced CB. On Twitter, it’s common to see truckers sharing traffic updates and weather conditions.
If you have a smart phone, you can use apps to sync it with your favorite websites and network from your phone when you can’t get to a computer.
No one is suggesting that once you start networking online everything you do has to be updated. It’s about moderation. Share the things you find interesting, unique or potentially helpful to the people in your network. You will inevitably encounter people who overshare or post an update every time they reach a new level in their latest online game. In Facebook, for example, there are ways to filter your newsfeed so you can weed out your social garden and see only the posts you deem relevant.
Staying informed is a priority for most truckers. With clever use of social media, you can organize all of your favorite sources into one place. By becoming a “fan” of or “liking” certain pages on Facebook, you can stay up to date on almost any topic that interests you.
OOIDA, Land Line Magazine and Land Line Now all have Facebook fan pages that are updated regularly. On a single website, you can access OOIDA calls to action and association happenings, breaking news from Land Line, and photos and videos from the staff – or you can share your own comments. You’ll be connected to your Association in ways that weren’t possible before.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits: You’ll be off the chain in the eyes of your kids … or at least they’ll consider you less wack. LOL! LL