Getting started with social media: Maersk Line’s social media study (part 2)

Two of our early IGs, featuring Estelle Maersk on the left and my son Wilfred on the right, in front of the giant Emma Maersk scale model in the Maersk HQ.
Two of our early IGs, featuring Estelle Maersk on the left and my son Wilfred on the right, in front of the giant Emma Maersk scale model in Copenhagen.

So, moving on from my previous post, let’s have a look at how we got started and what we’ve done to date in Maersk Line with regards to social media.

First of all, our approach has been one of insourcing. I was basically recruited to do the job, starting 1 October 2011,  and I have been running with it ever since. This approach was chosen by management because they realized that it was the only way forward if it was to be credible as well as cost-efficient.

What has worked really well for us, and what the management fully understood, is the big amount of trust and empowerment that came my way. If you want to humanize the brand and ensure speed of posting you need to work with minimal oversight.

Where are we today?
So what’s the status after a year and a half? We currently have a presence on 12 social media sites, two of which are Chinese. We use these platforms in very different ways, with respect for the different users out there. However, a common trend spans the entire spectrum, namely that we regard it as a communication tool as opposed to a marketing exercise.

If you ask me, this approach does not make it boring, quite the contrary. Our presence is characterised as being very visual, narrative, trustworthy, based on that which is current and close to the business. Our aim is to engage and enter into dialogues. And we endeavour to humanise our somewhat hardware-driven business.

The top line (social) numbers
We have over 830,000 fans on Facebook, on which our engagement rate consistently falls between 5-10%. Also, we have 45,000 followers on Twitter, and 30,000 followers on LinkedIn.

In addition to all of this, we have 22,000 followers on Instagram. We have received considerable praise for our use of Instagram (and photos in general), even from Instagram themselves. Recently, we became one of their “suggested users”.

Here’s a short case video that summarizes what we’ve done the past year and a half (I know, I know, it’s a bit to the dramatic side):

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/59990482 w=460&h=259]

 
From mass media to corporate journalism
But what is it worth? Perhaps nothing? We don’t know for certain. But we believe we know that there is much more to social media than… social media alone.

Social media is merely a concept. It is a measure of where the media landscape and technology have brought us, specifically to the point where technology has become so sophisticated that it is capable of mirroring our behaviour and the actual structure of society right down to the individual level.

In other words: a society consists of individuals who are interconnected. The same can be said about the role of social media. Away with mass media; today, that space belongs to the users. And in that space we all become editors of our own lives. How do I wish to present myself? Who am I? How do I want to spend my time? With whom? Where? Etc.

What is interesting for companies is that they are also, or have the opportunity to be, publishers of their own stories. Companies have become news media agencies in their own right. But they will not get very far unless they are trustworthy. This is where the concept of corporate journalism comes in: the most digitally-advanced companies have started to employ people who report on what goes on in the company with journalistic integrity.

After all, if you fail to divulge your mistakes, no one can learn from them, in which case the company stagnates.

Next up in this short series: What is the value of social media for a B2B company like ours?

Unlocking the full potential of social media: Maersk Line’s social media study (part 1)

Part of the #maersk Instagram picture“What in the world is a container shipping company doing in the social media?!” We have been asked this question repeatedly since we announced our presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram almost a year and a half ago.

The short answer is: because it adds value to the bottom line. Had this not been the case, we would (almost) not have any reason to be there.

Until now, social media have primarily been the domain of our communication department, but we are currently moving into the second phase of our strategy which will involve incorporating them into the actual business.

In order to determine what role social media should play in our business in the long term, we recently completed a study. In addition to evaluating our current value creation, this study also outlines our next step.

The cover of Maersk Line's Social Media Study 2012
The cover of Maersk Line’s Social Media Study 2012 entitled “The Next Step: How to unlock the full potential of social media”.

Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to extract the key aspects of the study in a number of blog posts.

But before we get to the study itself, it makes sense to outline what we have done to date, during the first phase of the programme.

So that’s what my next post will be about.