The U.S. ranks among the few countries making gains toward closing the truck driver shortage and the use of social media influencers may be playing a significant role.
A recent study conducted by the International Road Transport Union, based in Geneva, Switzerland, indicates America has reduced the workforce deficit from an estimated 80,000 to 64,000. Although only 8 percent of active U.S. CDL holders are believed to be under 25 years old, the EU trails at 5 percent. If the country is going to meet the rising need for qualified freight transportation professionals, onboarding women and younger adults appears critical.
“Social media influencers have become partners in our efforts to recruit, brand and positively impact the trucking profession. We have found that many content creators are younger generation drivers,” Kris Rzepkowski, marketing vice president at the trucking and logistics firm Bennett International Group, reportedly said. “They are sharing about their journey getting into the profession and advancing to their next step. Prospects see their own journey — and their own age — in these influencers and feel comfortable asking them questions.”
Taking to platforms such as TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram, the influencer strategy appears to be working. Fleet operators are reportedly experiencing an increase in driver applications. The number of younger truckers has also improved since the marketing strategy was implemented. According to the Bennett firm, influencers can post videos, images, and speak to the everyday experience of driving truck. Instead of trying to sell good-paying jobs to sometimes resistant demographics, influencers are able to highlight non-monetary aspects that appeal to Gen-Zers.
“An industry influencer can be a great way to showcase the lifestyle,” Bruce Outridge, host of The Lead Pedal Podcast, reportedly said.
This does not necessarily mean young adults with a large online following can earn a living by highlighting truck driving jobs. Companies are quickly learning to use AI technology to distinguish between effective and ineffective influencers. Many are using apps to customize filters and select the best influencers to promote their trucking sector brand by age, gender, location, interests, and engagement rate.
Companies like Melton Truck Lines have enjoyed significant benefits from starting influencer programs. Since initiating the marketing campaign in April 2022, Melton has reportedly seen a 56 percent increase in trucker referral applications and 45 percent hiring growth. Those are substantial gains given the persistent driver shortfall that is only expected to worsen in the next five years.