Inside the Numbers

Are you connecting with fleets and owner-operators?


Avery Untitled 1If someone tells you that you are missing a great business development opportunity because you aren’t “on” Twitter, ignore him.

Yes, Twitter is free. But it’s also just about meaningless in trucking.

According to a just-published Randall-Reilly Market Intelligence study, only 5 percent of fleet managers and executives and 4.6 percent of owner-operators use Twitter. The numbers are a bit higher — 7.3 percent of fleets and 7.9 percent of owner-operators — for those who are age 50 or younger.

Perhaps you are thinking that 5 percent may be small, but, hey, it’s free and easy. Maybe, but of the very few fleet managers who do use Twitter, more than a third access it no more than once a week, and only about 43 percent look at it at least daily. And half of the few owner-operators using Twitter look at it no more than once a week.

Technology use varies by job responsibility and age

If you have ever used Twitter, you know that unless you look at it frequently, you will never keep up. And don’t forget that none of it matters unless the people who follow you on Twitter operate within your market area.

The Trucking Connectivity Study, released last month and based on telephone and online research conducted this winter, suggests substantially greater use of Facebook. But with one exception, a majority of each of the other groups studied — owner-operators, fleet managers and executives, dealers and distributors — don’t use any of the major social media networks. A bare majority of company drivers use Facebook.

In all groups, Facebook is the social media network used by the most people and used most frequently. A large number of Facebook users in all groups access it at least once a day, but LinkedIn and Twitter users often go for a week or more without logging onto those networks.

Smart phones are another story.

About 58 percent of fleet managers and executives use a smart phone (at least for any purpose other than making phone calls), and about 70 percent of those 50 and younger do so. Surprisingly given the mobile nature of their work, only about 45 percent of owner-operators use a smart phone.

But as with fleets, age makes a big difference; about 60 percent of owner-operators 50 and younger use them while only about 37 percent of older owner-operators do so. Almost two-thirds of smart phone users at fleets download apps for their devices while nearly 75 percent of owner-operators using smart phones do so.

Smart phones are a far more promising platform than social media for conducting business for another reason.

Today’s smart phones are, virtually without exception, integrated with Global Positioning System locating, which allows mapping, directories and a host of other applications to work so efficiently. For companies in the business of selling parts and repairing vehicles, the ability to target by location can be invaluable.

Perhaps you are curious where you stand relative to your peers regarding use of social media and smart phones? Fewer than 43 percent of executives and managers at parts distributors and independent repair facilities use any of the social media networks. And only 47 percent use smart phones, although 64 percent of those 50 and under do so.

Among truck and trailer dealer executives and managers, social media use — or lack thereof — is comparable to distributors, but more dealer executives and managers (about 60 percent) use smartphones.

So to recap, it’s probably worth pursuing sales and customer service initiatives that take advantage of smart phones, but don’t worry much yet about social media — unless your kid needs something to do in the business and can’t be trusted with anything else.


The June 2012 Trucking Connectivity Study by Randall-Reilly Market Intelligence can be purchased at


Avery Vise is executive director, trucking research and analysis for Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information.


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