Kennedy Alvarez never envisioned a career in the transportation industry, but an internship in college working in Melton Truck Line’s social media and communications department quickly changed all that.
By the end of the internship, Alvarez had been offered a full-time position with the company. Now, six and half years later, she serves as the carrier’s digital media manager, riding herd over advertising, online branding, SEO, social media, and other communications functions that serve the company both internally and externally.
Along the way, the 27-year-old also completed her Master of Business Administration degree and has expanded her reach from communications and marketing into branding, employee recruitment, and customer marketing efforts.
“I’d never worked in the transportation industry prior to that internship,” Alvarez said. “It’s been a really good journey for me, both educationally and professionally.”
Because she was such a “green” newcomer to trucking, Alvarez says she initially faced a steep learning curve. There was a lot of technical jargon with which to familiarize herself, along with learning the “nuts and bolts” of moving machines and freight from one place to another.
This was actually an advantage for Alvarez. What she brought to the role was a fresh and innovative mindset when it came to the way Melton shared its story with employees, prospective drivers, potential customers, and the public at large.
“Social media specifically has changed a lot just in my six years here at Melton,” she said. “We really use it to convey our culture. It’s the greatest communication vehicle that we’ve ever seen, and so it’s something that we utilize very heavily in communicating our brand online.
“When thinking about user behavior, it’s not always a Google search to your website anymore,” she continued. “It’s utilizing social media platforms as a search tool. So, it’s important for our brand to be on social media, communicating our culture just as much as our website or any other online tool. I would say we have always been a little bit of a first adopter when it comes to that.”
The communication strategy driving this social media utilization, she says, is multilayered, with messages performing multiple tasks at once. Posts that celebrate individual and corporate accomplishments send subtle messages about the positives of working for Melton — which in turn supports the carrier’s recruitment efforts.
The impact of social media is even more pronounced when the content is generated by Melton’s front-line employees, Alvarez said, pointing to the innovative influencer program created by her department.
“We were brainstorming one day, and my vice president said, ‘There’s got to be a way we can utilize social media and expand upon what has traditionally been our most successful advertising source —word-of-mouth driver referrals,’” Alvarez said.
“So, we put the two together and combined the power of social media with what was already very successful for us, and very timeless for us,” she continued. The result was the influencer program, which incentivizes the company’s drivers to make videos about their experiences at Melton.
“We take our drivers’ content — their testimonials, their videos — and we use what they’ve created themselves, and their voice exactly as they say it,” she said. “We were surprised to find that these messages were just as high-converting as our driver referrals were traditionally — and they also garnered a substantial amount of engagement for our company online.”
This process, Alvarez said, is much more effective than simply posting a traditional job listing and hoping prospective drivers have heard good things about the company.
“Our internally managed marketing programs and social media attributions to driver hiring have increased by over 30% year to date versus the same period in 2022,” she said.
“Furthermore, since the inception of my current role in May 2021, my team and I have managed to decrease our cost per hire by as much as 69% and decrease our app-to-hire ratio as much as 42%,” she noted. “This is all thanks to increasingly effective and measurable advertising strategies, amplified online brand exposure and engagement, as well as diligent collaboration with our recruiting team.”
Alvarez says Melton’s social media and communications platforms also help company leadership measure employee satisfaction, providing the kind of feedback that enables company brass to learn of issues that might need to be evaluated for improvement.
“It’s inevitable that sometimes you’re going to get content that isn’t super-positive about the company, and we take the good the bad and sometimes the ugly,” she said.
“If there’s a common message or a common thread or a common theme that emerges online, that message is something that does not just go uncommunicated,” she added. “We’re a very feedback-oriented company when it comes to drivers, and the front office and very connected to leadership here at Melton. That’s a great thing.”
Dwain Hebda is a freelance journalist, author, editor and storyteller in Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition to The Trucker, his work appears in more than 35 publications across multiple states each year. Hebda’s writing has been awarded by the Society of Professional Journalists and a Finalist in Best Of Arkansas rankings by AY Magazine. He is president of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths, which provides editorial services to publications and companies.