What is the value of social media? Maersk Line’s social media study (part 3)

4 instagrams
Four of @MaerskLine’s own Instagram photos. From left to right: A bird’s-eye view of Edith Maersk; the stern of Emma Maersk; a bus being discharged from Olga Maersk in Bangkok the 1950s; and the “Wall of #maersk” in our CEO’s office.

In my previous posts about Maersk Line’s social media study I wrote about first that social media has to somehow add value to the bottom line, secondly I summarized what we’ve done in the first year and a bit. Now, it’s time (finally) to look at the actual study.

In light of our current (and future, I should add) minimal use of resources, we decided to complete the study by internal means, i.e. we wrote it ourselves. But we also decided to try involving leading international experts through a number of so-called Hangouts on Google+. This was a success.

From singular to complex value creation
The very first question we were able to answer concerned the value of our past and present value creation via the social media. This exercise was almost absurd. First of all, it is impossible to quantify added value of this kind conclusively, since it originates both directly and indirectly, both in the short and long term.

Value creation is no longer (and probably never has been) singular. It is quite all right to measure singular outcomes, but if one wants to document the total business value, simply looking at a few quantitative parameters is pointless.

Nevertheless, we were able to determine that the Return on Investment (ROI) from our Facebook page is approximately 1500%. And the results are even better on Twitter, where we have barely used any resources but have a base of followers which has a 15x greater pull.

In other words, our average Twitter follower is 15 times more influential than the average Twitter user, and when we share something on Twitter, we therefore tend to find that it ripples out into the networks of most relevance to us.

What’s next is what’s interesting
Jay Baer, the President of Convince & Convert and a leading social media strategist, played a major part in the study. He said:

“It is of little value to look at the value of what you have achieved, or of what you are achieving right now for that matter. The important thing is what you intend to do going forward.  Only then you will find out what it is worth, and that will depend on what you do now.”

“Through your explorative approach to social media, you have managed to bring the company culture with you. You have generated momentum, and that is the most valuable of all that you have achieved, because that is what you need to build on.”

Jay Baer, one of the world’s leading social media consultants  according to both Forbes and leading on magazine Mashable, talks about what we’ve done in social media in ‘year one’.
Jay Baer, one of the world’s leading social media consultants according to
both Forbes and Mashable, talks about what we’ve done in social media in ‘year one’.

Jay Baer continued: “Bringing the culture with you is by far the most difficult task. Even large companies, which are one-tenth of your size, cannot get it right. They are afraid to let go, as a result of which their social media programme dies before it has even begun.”

Detrimental not to adapt
Michael Chui, who was the driving force behind the social media study published by McKinsey last summer, made it clear that social media can no longer be ignored. It is imperative for all large companies to adopt social media as an integral part of the organisation, or, as he said to us in one of the first Hangouts:

“It will be detrimental for companies that are unable to adapt and exploit the social technologies and the associated optimisation opportunities. This may not happen this year or next year, but it will not be long. If you do not do it, your competitors will, and then, sooner or later, you will be outperformed.”

Michael Chui of McKinsey in a Hangout with us. In the Hangout, Michael Chui went through all the major findings in McKinsey’s social media study – and helped translate the findings into the world of Maersk Line.
Michael Chui of McKinsey in a Hangout with us. In the Hangout, Michael Chui went through all the major findings in McKinsey’s social media study – and helped translate the findings into the world of Maersk Line.

Next step: to get it out into the business
That was the evaluation part. We then shifted our focus to what we should do in the future. The McKinsey study outlined 10 ways in which social media or technologies can create value for large companies. Of those 10, we identified the four we considered to be the most prudent for us to focus on in the coming years.

Besides our current area, in which we communicate via the official Maersk Line channels, which is an approach rooted in our communications department, we will focus on our customer service, sales and internal use of social technologies for collaboration purposes.

Next post: How we plan to use social media in customer service.

12 thoughts on “What is the value of social media? Maersk Line’s social media study (part 3)”

  1. Re. the key point of bringing the company culture along: The value in your case is even more than bringing company culture along. What you are doing for Maersk Line on social media is leading and enabling the desired culture change. This project is an important hub for fostering the culture needed for business success. Well done…

    1. Thank you, Hanne Vibe. Means a lot to hear that. I hope you are right, and that we can keep pushing the boundaries with our social media efforts – for the better good of the company.

      Also, I should add that comments from the Maersk-alumni are often the most valuable. At least, that’s my experience. Because they are honest, objective accounts from people who know the company.

      Maybe we should do an Maersk alumni project using social media? It was actually Soren Stig’s idea 🙂

  2. This from a company who had hardly any presence outside of trade journals(that too very rare) and publications, had never done TV ads, billboards or any other conventional media. To do a quantum leap into social media and have such a high degree of engagement with your followers has to be one of the most dramatic turnarounds for any company’s marketing strategy ever.

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