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.

Maersk Line in social media – the case in brief

In less than one and a half year shipping giant Maersk Line has secured an astounding 780,000 fans on Facebook and a comprehensive presence on 11 other platforms. Including 40,000 followers on Twitter, 30,000 on LinkedIn, and 22,000 on Instagram.

At an extremely low cost the campaign has changed the face of Maersk Line – in a conservative B2B industry “where you think no one would be social”.

The background
After having been in a “listening phase” for a couple of years, Maersk Line – the world’s largest container shipping company – decided to in-source a social media specialist to its communications department to get the company started on social media.

In October 2011, after having been employed for a week, his strategy was approved by the CCO.

The strategy and the objectives
The strategy outlined “getting closer to our customers” as the key overall target while pointing to brand awareness, brand loyalty, employer branding, employee retention, customer insights and even co-creation as other positive outcomes.

The strategy also made clear that platform differentiation is the way to go: The company was advised to use different platforms for different purposes.

A story of success
From that point on it’s been one long story of success that has surprised many. Among the highlights are:

  • 780,000 fans on Facebook with record-high engagement level.
  • A purposeful presence on Twitter, incl. setting up a Twitter panel of select employees (incl. a captain, a graduate and a number of top executives).
  • A cool and elegant presence on Instagram which has started a #maersk spotting trend across the globe and has secured Maersk Line a place on Instagram’s elite list of ‘Suggested Users’.
  • The creation and maintenance of “The Shipping Circle”, a group on LinkedIn where shipping experts share their insightful thoughts and ideas with the company – valuable input that’s set to influence management decisions.
  • The company’s more than 150 country communication managers around the globe can now do local posts via the global Facebook page, thereby ensuring both simplicity, brand alignment and effective/relevant customer communication – and also ensuring that Maersk Line really do “get closer its customers”.

Better at social than the big B2C brands
In a mini-survey made in July 2012 in order to measure how good Maersk Line is at social compared to the 12 leading brands on Facebook, Maersk Line came in second with a score of 37.0.

In comparison, Lego scored 48.0, Disney 34.2, Shell 19.1, Red Bull 6.0, and Coca-Cola 2.2.

Attention from the media
The “Maersk Line in social media” story has already gotten its fair share of media attention, highlighted as setting a new standard for B2B companies in social media.

On more than one occasion top 5 social media experts have also displayed their enthusiasm, e.g. Jay Baer and Scott Stratten. And currently both M.I.T. and Harvard University are writing case studies about Maersk Line for their curriculum.

Done at almost no cost
However, the most remarkable thing about the campaign is the extremely low cost at which it has been run: Apart from occupying less than one FTE, it has only brought about around $ 100K in other external expenses, allowing Maersk Line not to look further into things such as ROI.

The next step: Unlocking the full potential
Nevertheless, Maersk Line conducted a comprehensive social media study in Q4 2012, in order to evaluate the efforts – and decide where to take social media the next 2-3 years.

The study revealed that the value creation so far has been far out of this world, with a ROI of more than 1500 %. The math actually showed a ROI of close to 5000 % – so 1500 % is a very conservative estimate.

The study was done as an open innovation process with both leading american consultants and key stakeholders within Maersk Line being interviewed in a series of Google Hangouts.

unlocking the full potential
The frontpage of Maersk Line’s comprehensive study. The Maersk star in the middle of the social ‘solar system’ refers to Maersk Line Social, a website dedicated to social media.

The outcome?
The outcome of the 75-pager was a tangible recommendation to the top management of expanding the scope of social media in Maersk Line to include both Customer Service and Sales – and to further develop the setup in the communications department. Also, internal collaboration was highlighted as the area with the most potential looking ahead.

The management approved the recommendation, and in 2013 Maersk Line is therefore focusing on implementing social media across the organisation – and on turning social engagement into direct bottom line value.